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Holden drops European trio

Bye for now: The fire-breathing Astra VXR is gone from Holden’s line-up, leaving the five-door Astra RS-V as the spiciest variant in the range.

Cascada, Astra GTC and VXR and Insignia VXR dropped from Holden’s line-up

2 May 2017

HOLDEN has dropped the European-sourced Cascada drop-top, Astra GTC and VXR three-door hatchbacks, and Insignia VXR performance sedan from its line-up as it clears the decks for new and incoming product in its showrooms.

The trio of Opel-sourced models were introduced in mid-2015 as part of the car-maker’s plan to launch 24 new models between 2015 and 2020 as well as serving as niche offerings to help change Holden’s brand image following its decision to quit Australian manufacturing and become a full-line importer.

A Holden spokesperson told GoAuto that the models were dropped because they were slowly being replaced by newer, more technologically advanced models.

Opel has stopped building the first-gen Insignia in Germany and has kicked off production of the second-gen version that will be sold here from early next year as the all-new front/all-wheel drive Commodore.

An OPC/VXR sports halo version of the new-gen Insignia has been spied in Germany recently wearing Holden badges, meaning a go-fast version of the new imported Commodore is coming.

The previous-generation version of the Astra was re-introduced as a three-door GTC and VXR hot hatch in May 2015, but the lack of connectivity and active safety features, such as a rearview camera and a touchscreen, means they now trail their rivals in offering this equipment.

Holden launched the critical new-generation Astra in December last year in five-door hatch guise. It is built using the lighter, more advanced D2XX platform, whereas the Delta II platform that underpins the older PJ Astra three door will be put out to pasture.

Opel – which was recently sold by GM to French giant PSA Group – has not confirmed a three-door body style for the new BK Astra, nor has it officially announced a new OPC/VXR performance halo or a replacement for the Cascada.

That leaves the 147kW/300Nm five-door Astra RS-V as the spiciest version of the European-built hatchback in Australia.

GM Holden product communications manager Mark Flintoft told GoAuto that while there is nothing in the pipeline to replace the three-door, or a sporty version of the Astra, the car-maker would consider any future offerings from Opel.

“If they do end up working on one and there is that option, then obviously we will look at it,” he said. “And if it is right then you never know, but at the moment there is not even a question to answer. If they do do it then we will take a serious look at it.

“Astra is selling pretty well now and we think sedan will do well too. Any variations to those cars then we will definitely look at, but for now there is no OPC/VXR, no three door announced, no convertible announced, so we will keep selling hatch as it is.” The Astra sedan will go on sale in Australia in June, but unlike the European-sourced Astra hatch, it will be built in South Korea and is a tweaked and rebadged version of the new-gen Chevrolet Cruze. It shares the same D2XX platform as its Astra hatch sibling.

While it is yet to be officially confirmed, GoAuto believes that the Astra wagon – revealed at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show – will also be added to Holden’s local roster down the track.

Opel is still producing the PJ Astra GTC and OPC as well as the Cascada. The convertible was only recently launched in the United States wearing Buick badges.

The $51,990 plus on-road costs Insignia VXR was the slowest seller of the three models, capturing 148 sales in its first year on sale, 2015, rising to 231 last year and dropping to just seven units in the first three months of this year.

The $42,990 Cascada convertible grabbed 523 sales in 2015, dipping slightly to 500 in 2016 and 57 in the first quarter of 2017.

Astra was the best seller with 763 sales in 2015, then 749 in 2016, but just 10 sales recorded so far this year. Prices ranged from $26,990 for the GTC manual to $39,990 for the potent 206kW/400Nm VXR.

The two Astra variants and the Insignia were previously sold in Australia with Opel badges between September 2012 and August 2013 when GM introduced the German brand to the Australian market in what turned out to be an unsuccessful experiment.

Mr Flintoft said there was limited stock of the Astra GTC and VXR, Cascada and Insignia VXR left at Holden dealers.

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