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Holden Astra

AH Astra

1 Nov 2004

Like the ZC Vectra a year and a half earlier, the AH Astra received the bigger, better-quality treatment, as well as a higher price tag.

So Holden, aware it needs a sub-$20,000 small car entrant until the revised and rebadged Daewoo Lacetti arrives later in ’05, is bringing in the 1998-vintage TS Astra from Poland to sell alongside the AH.

Meanwhile the AH is going Mazda3-hunting, with an all-new body that’s bigger, stronger and roomier than before, a upmarket dash and cabin treatment, and higher levels of safety, refinement and dynamic prowess.

The latter comes despite General Motors eschewing the trend towards multi-link rear suspension pioneered by the arch rival Ford Focus and subsequently picked up by VW, Audi and Mazda, for regular old MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam set-up at the rear.

Oddly, the AH also makes do with the carryover 1.8-litre Ecotec four-cylinder engine (90kW/165Nm) – albeit improved for this application.

Three models are available – the base CD, CDX and CDXi – and all include dual front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes, air-con, power steering/windows/mirrors, a CD player and keyless entry.

In late 2005 a three-door hatchback as well as the first Astra wagon arrives, followed in '06 by a four-door sedan variant.

In June 2006 Holden broadened its Astra’s appeal by introducing the CDTi turbo-diesel and SRi Turbo ‘hot-hatch’ – in five-door and three-door hatchback guises respectively.

Only a single CDTi five-door hatchback model was available initially, in two distinct Euro IV emissions-compliant common-rail four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines according to which gearbox is specified.

Both are fitted with a Garret turbocharger and intercooler.

The base six-speed manual CDTi boasts a 1.9-litre twin-cam 16-valve unit delivering a class-leading 110kW of power at 4000rpm and 320Nm of torque at 2000rpm.

For a little extra, buyers can choose the CDTi automatic, utilising an Aisin-supplied six-speed transmission and fitted with a sequential shift facility.

However, the automatic uses a single overhead camshaft, eight-valve version of the 1.9-litre engine, for 88kW at 3500rpm and 280Nm at 2000rpm.

Fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions are significantly lower in the manual though, recording an ADR 81/01 figure of 6.0 litres per 100km against the automatic’s 7.4L/100km, and 157 grams per kilometre versus 192g/km respectively.

All Astra CDTi models, along with the new SRi Turbo released at the same time, introduce ESP stability control to the Astra range.

Aimed at the burgeoning sub-$40,000 hot-hatch market, the SRi Turbo uses a six-speed manual gearbox to channel the 147kW/262Nm 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder powerplant’s performance, boosted by a Borg Warner turbocharger and oil cooler.

Aiding this is a new-generation engine management system that controls the turbocharger’s boost pressure for improved flexibility and low-end torque availability.

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