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Astra’s European crown gives Holden a fillip

Prize recruit: The new Opel Astra will arrive in Australia late this year with the European COTY trophy as an added accessory.

Holden all smiles as European Car of the Year award goes to new-gen Astra

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Holden logo2 Mar 2016

By RON HAMMERTON

ONE of the new models that will carry Holden into its import era, the Opel-developed, Vauxhall-built sixth-generation Astra, has come up trumps in the 2016 European Car of the Year award.

The victory over the likes of the Volvo XC90 and Mazda MX-5 is a shot in the arm for General Motors’ Australian unit as it prepares to close its manufacturing plants next year.

Arriving in Australian by the end of this year, the five-door hatch will be offered with a choice of a 1.4 and 1.6-litre turbocharged engines, and feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity systems.

GM Holden sales executive director Peter Keley said the award cements the credentials of a “world-beating” vehicle.

“Astra is a critical part of Holden’s plan to launch 24 new models by the end of 2020 as we refresh or replace every model in the Holden vehicle portfolio,” he said.

“With more than one-third of our future vehicles to be sourced from Europe, along with fantastic vehicles from North America and Asia, we are building the best and most comprehensive model line-up in Holden’s history.

“World-class vehicles like the Astra embody the rejuvenation of the Holden brand.”

Mr Keley said the new Astra, which went on sale in Europe and the UK late last year, was one of the most technologically advanced small cars in the world, loaded with a range of premium features usually found on high-end prestige vehicles.

“With our Holden engineers being embedded in the program from the beginning and giving Astra that special Holden touch, you can be assured Astra will be perfectly suited to Australian conditions,” he said.

Holden is expected to sell the new Astra hatchback alongside the latest generation, South Korean-built Cruze in a twin-pronged assault on the Australian small-car market.

Voting in the Euro COTY award was by 58 motoring journalists across 22 countries, based on a list of 40 newcomers to the market. The Astra got the nod by picking up 309 points, versus 294 for the Volvo XC90 and 202 for the Mazda MX-5.

The award was presented to Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann at the Geneva motor show.

The Astra also picked up Germany’s Golden Steering Wheel award, placing at the top of the class.

In Germany last month, Astra sales were up 84 per cent on the same month last year, helping to lift Opel sales by 24 per cent.

While the MX-5 missed out on the Euro trophy, it is in the running for the World COTY to be handed out at the New York motor show late this month.

The little two-seat roadster is one of three finalists, along with the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

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