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Old and new Astras compared


But after catching up with the new AH Astra hatch
this week, we reckon the reason for retaining the old
model is obvious.

In many respects, we believe the TS Astra remains
a better car.

Astra is Holden's second biggest selling passenger
vehicle behind the perennial Commodore, so it is
understandable that the General might be a trifle
uneasy about upsetting the status quo – especially in the wake of Ford's recent successes.

Holden points to Astra's "proven Euro styling,
features and benefits" and, according to marketing
manager passenger cars, Alan Blazevic,"we believe
there will be a place for both body styles in the
Australian market".

Yes, the new Astra hatch (we will take a sedan as
soon as one becomes available) is larger and more
spacious than the car it replaces.

And, yes, there's no denying that it is a quality, well equipped product.

But style-wise the Astra looks like a lot of other
hatches and size is something of a two-edged sword,
because the larger a car is the more it weighs.

In the case of Astra, it weighs 84kg more than the
previous model and that is the same as having someone
in the passenger seat all the time.

As both cars are powered by the same 90kW 1.8-litre
DOHC four cylinder engine, it stands to reason that
being heavier, the new Astra will be slower off the
mark and will probably use more fuel – in this case 7.8L/100km compared to 7.6L/100km previously.

With a 52-litre tank, that means you will get 20km
less from a tank of fuel – not much but every bits counts.

Looking at the figures, the new hatch is 139mm
longer, 44mm wider and 35mm higher than the
previous model, with more room for front seats
occupants but fractionally less leg room for rear seat
passengers.

In comparison, the Astra Classic as it has been
renamed is smaller, lighter and more nimble – a
sporty car with a BMW feel.

At the end of the day, Holden probably doesn't care
which car you buy because the money all goes into the
same pocket.

However, both models are worth consideration and
will appeal to a different people.

Our test car was the entry level CD hatch with
standard five-speed manual box fitted.

It is priced from $21,990 compared to $19,990 for
the TS Classic.

The CD gets air conditioning, ABS, driver, front
passenger and side impact airbags, steering wheel
mounted audio controls, front power windows and
heated power exterior mirrors.

Automatic transmission is another $2000 and
optional is cruise control, rear power windows and
15in alloy wheels which are packaged together for
$990.

Metallic paint is another $300.

Astra Classic gets air, driver and passenger airbags
and $990 gets you , traction control, front and rear
power windows and 15in steel wheels.

On the road we found the new Astra hatch capable
but uninspiring.

It just doesn't quite hold the same appeal as the
previous model.

The extra weight has taken the edge off performance
and the handling softer and not as sharp as we
remember.

You need to rev the engine to get the car off the mark
quickly but once it hits its stride this is forgotten.

Grey tones dominate the interior and the firm seats
are comfortable, but the driver's seat in the CD model
lacks lumbar adjustment.

Four-channel ABS is specified as standard and brake
assist reduces the effort required in sudden stops.

Steering wheel controls for the 80-watt Blaupunkt
CD sound system are standard and the reproductions is
excellent, with MP3 capability.

The new Astra hatch is priced from $21,990.

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