Holden will launch its third Astra model in May, confirming from this week's North American International Auto Show in Detroit that its new sedan will drop the Cruze name.
The South Korean-built Astra sedan replaces the Cruze four-door that was imported from 2009, then built in Holden’s Elizabeth plant in Adelaide from early 2011 until Holden ceased its production in October last year.
Holden says even though the new-generation sedan will be made in South Korea, the local General Motors subsidiary will have market-specific engineering input, with test and development work carried out at its Lang Lang proving ground in south-east Victoria.
The Astra sedan will join the European-made three-door Astra coupe (from the previous J-model generation), and the latest five-door hatchback (K-model series). The sedan will share the hatchback platform.
The new addition to Holden’s small-car range is entering a tough battleground with rivals in the sub-$40,000 sector including the Ford Focus sedan, Honda Civic, Mazda3 sedan and Volkswagen Jetta.
Our Australian designers have styled a unique Holden face with exclusive new front fascia and grille.
Australia will be the only GM market to name the new sedan Astra, forgoing the global trend to badge it Cruze, and Holden's executive director of sales Peter Keley says using the Astra nameplate simplifies the company’s small-car range.
In 2015, Holden committed to launching 24 new products by 2020, and the Astra sedan represents the brand's 13th subsequent unveiling.
The new sedan was designed in Detroit but Holden’s local design team had input in styling the grille and fascia – including incorporating the lion badge – to align it with the two other Astra models and incorporate it into the broader Holden range.
Holden design director Richard Ferlazzo says, “Sharing the same architecture as the Astra hatch, the new Astra sedan assumes a rational, sophisticated persona to expand on the appeal of the sports-styled hatch”.
“Our Australian designers have styled a unique Holden face with exclusive new front fascia and grille, closely aligning with the next-generation Commodore,” he said.
Registration figures from VFACTS for 2016 showed the Astra models accounted for only 0.2 per cent of the sub-$40,000 small-car segment, while the now ceased Cruze captured a 6.3 per cent share.
The most popular small-car model, the Toyota Corolla, had a 20.5 per cent share of the segment.
Does the Holden Astra have what it takes to compete in the ultra-competitive small-car segment? Tell us what you think in the comments below.