First Drive: Holden Astra Sedan

The turnaround continues for GM's Aussie brand

As part of the complete refresh of the Holden range there’s another newcomer in the showrooms – the Holden Astra Sedan, and we’ve taken it for a run around the Gold Coast and Byron Bay hinterland to see how it goes.

There’s something often strange about the look of a sedan when it’s born out of a hatch, the Mazda 2 is a great example of that – ugly.  The Mazda 3 is a better example, and from almost every angle the Holden Astra gives off the same dynamic look – the boot doesn’t look like it’s been thrown on in photoshop after the fact.

So from the outside it should be something that appeals to a wide range of people, it’s not so radical it will put you off, and it has enough Euro influence to make it quite a good looker on the road.

Inside the Astra has the same look and layout as its hatchback sibling, with the addition of a solid amount of rear seat leg room and a huge boot.

Perhaps born out of it’s hatchback sibling, then rear seats fold down too, meaning not only will you get a few sets of golf clubs in the standard boot, you could lie a bike down in there with the seats down.  For those lovers of IKEA this means a lot of flat-pack for your buck.

Holden engineers here in Australia drove around 100,000km of testing to refine the steering, suspension and gear ratios to ensure this felt the way an Aussie would want it.

This is not all about how our roads are different, though at times the crown of our roads and the amount of gravel roads might require some suspension tuning, things like steering feel and gear ratios are tuned to meet the expectations of Aussies.

We’ve had Aussie cars for so long, we expect things to be a certain way – and that’s what the Holden engineers are ensuring.

On the road it has a soft feel, but not floaty.  Around corners the linear steering feeling gives you confidence throughout, while the ride aborbs most of the bumps of a dodgy rain and pot-hole affected B-Road.

Road noise is a touch high, but nothing out of the ordinary in this class of vehicle.  We’re talking about a car which starts at $21,990 drive away.  Head up into the range you’ll be able to get close to $28,000 with ease, but that’s packed with features.

At the base level, the LS model offers rear parking sensors and rear view camera on a 7 inch touch screen, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.  That’s all included in the $21,990 drive-away price.

Consider that for a moment when you’re dealer shopping against the Toyota, Hyundai and Mazda opposition.  Don’t devalue that smartphone integration if you’ve got it – it gives you your music, your maps, your apps, and your messages all in a safe hands-free environment.  It should be standard – and for Holden (and Hyundai) it is.

Step it up with the LS+ and you’ll get the Holden Eye safety camera which enables lane keep assist functions and forward distance indicator.    These are pretty sensational safety features for a $25,000 car.

Higher up the range you’ll get embedded sat nav, 17 or 18 inch wheels and sunroof.  There’s also Auto Parking, rain sensing wipers and heated seats – you just need to decide how much you want to spend.  The top of the line LTZ Auto is $29.790 plus on roads.

 

After a day of driving, I’m impressed by what the Astra offers – both on the road, and with that standard equipment on the base model.

For the sub $25,000 buyer, the Astra Sedan offers enormous bang for your buck with a smooth and comfortable ride.  Well worth a test drive.

 

Trevor Long travelled to the Gold Coast as a guest of Holden – for our full list of commercial arrangements and disclosures click here.

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Motoring

Trev produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He hosts a nightly radio show on Talking Lifestyle, 8pm Monday to Friday in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.

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