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Holden’s Astra sedan for those who aren’t sold on the Astra hatch which arrived late last year. Holden is also trying to tempt you away from extremely good rivals like the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla.
Are you a hatchback hater? Prefer a ‘grown-up’ small car with a proper boot? You’re not alone and Holden knows this. No, Holden isn’t tapping your phone or sitting outside your house in a van listening in on your dinner table conversations. Not that I know of anyway. No, the sales data shows that of all small cars sold in 2016, 69 per cent were hatches.
So for the 39 percenters out there, and you know who you are, Holden’s Astra sedan is now here for those who aren’t sold on the Astra hatch which arrived late last year. Holden is also trying to tempt you away from extremely good rivals such as the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla sedans or Hyundai's Elantra.
So is the sedan much different from the hatch – apart from the boot? The answer is a big ‘hell yes’ as we found out at its launch recently where we drove each of the grades in the Astra sedan line-up.
|Holden Astra 2017: R|
|Engine Type||1.4L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The three-tier Astra sedan line-up kicks off with the LS spec that lists for $20,490 if you opt for the manual gearbox, or $21,490 for the automatic. Standard features at this level include 16-inch alloy wheels, auto headlights, a 7.0-inch touch screen with reversing camera, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and rear parking sensors.
There’s an LS+ grade for another $1250 which adds advanced safety equipment, LED running lights and a leather steering wheel.
The $25,790 LT gets all of the LS+ features and adds 17-inch alloys, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, proximity unlocking, auto parking, sat nav and rain-sensing wipers.
At the top of the range, the $29,790 LTZ has all of the above but gets 18-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, climate control and heated leather front seats.
Depending on the grade, the hatch costs $1000 to $2000 more than the sedan.
It’s not just you. I don’t think the sedan looks anything like the hatch either. There’s a good explanation though – they’re two different cars, even if they sit on very similar platforms.
Holden has styled the front of the sedan to look more like the hatch but I don’t think that’s fooling anybody.
The sedan’s cabin is also different to the hatch’s – we’re talking completely different, from the steering wheel to the temperature controls. I’m more of a fan of the hatch’s interior styling than the sedan’s relatively basic look.
The sedan is 30cm longer than the hatch at 4665mm end-to-end, it’s shorter in height though, standing 1457mm tall, but is almost exactly the same width at 1807mm across.
The Astra hatch looks drop dead gorgeous. The same can't be said for the sedan, which looks a bit out of date and not as stylish as the Mazda3 or Elantra, and both those cars have more attractive cabins, too.
With a cargo capacity 445 litres, the sedan’s boot is 85 litres larger than the hatch’s. That’s big, and great for luggage, but ask yourself if you could move a coffee table in it? You can in a hatch if you fold the seats down because the hatch opening is larger.
The sedan’s longer wheelbase means rear legroom is better than the hatch. At 191cm, in the hatch I have about 5mm to spare when I sit behind my driving position, but in the sedan the gap between my knees and the seatback is more like 5cm.
Headroom in the back is less than the hatch - that's because the sedan isn't as tall.
Storage throughout the cabin is good with four cupholders (two in the front and two in the back), bottle holders in all the doors and a decent-sized centre console storage bin.
All Astra sedans come with the same engine – a 110kW 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that makes 245Nm with the six-speed manual and 240Nm with the six-speed automatic.
That engine in the hatch didn’t impress the socks off me, and while socks are still well and truly on, this 1.4-litre engine suits the nature of the sedan far more. I feel the hatch needed a gruntier power plant to suit its sporty styling and firmer suspension – lucky, there’s 1.6-litre that delivers a bit more mumbo.
While the 1.4-litre is competent, it's not inspiring and it would have been good if that 1.6-litre was also offered in the sedan.
The official combined fuel consumption of the manual is 5.8L/100km while the automatic transmission returns 6.1L/100km according to Holden. The trip computer in our automatic LS was reporting 8.2L/100km after a little more than 100km of country road driving.
The Astra will run happily on 91RON unleaded, and you'll need 52 litres of it to fill the tank.
The new Astra sedan has the maximum five-star ANCAP rating, but that is the new norm, and buyers should look closer at what advanced safety equipment now comes standard.
If you can afford the extra $1250 go for the LS+ with its suite of safety gear including lane keeping assistance, lane departure warning and forward distance indicator.
Something you should know is AEB is not available on the sedan at all – but it is on the hatch.
You’ll find two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether points for child seats across the back row.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Astra sedan is covered by Holden’s three-year/100,000km warranty.
Servicing is recommended every 15,000km or annually. The Astra also comes with Holden’s lifetime capped price servicing. You’ll pay $229 for each of the first four services, then $289 for the next three.
While the hatch has sporty styling and a firmer ride, the placid-looking sedan is a far more comfortable drive. Holden has tuned the suspension to make the ride comparatively supple, and I felt this almost straight away on our test drive (through mainly country and rural areas).
I had seat time in each grade. The LS with the manual was the most enjoyable to drive - shifting was easy, the gear ratios were nicely spaced and I felt I could get more out of that 1.4-litre engine.
Being tall and all arms and legs, I found that I had to drive with the middle armrest up – my elbow kept bumping into it otherwise when shifting; the clutch also has a high return position.
The auto-only LT and LTZ ride just as comfortably as the LS manual. Steering on all grades has been tuned for Australian roads, and it feels accurate, well weighted and smooth. I’ve driven far fancier cars with steering that isn't anywhere near this good.
Cabin insulation was also impressive in the sedan – the hatch on the other hand has a fair bit of noise intrusion.
And that engine? Well, you’re not going to win any drag races, but the comfortable ride and smooth steering, combined with looks that don’t promise land speed records means it’s far more suited to the sedan than the hatch.
Even with two well fed Holden employees and myself on board the sedan didn’t once feel like it was running out of puff, even on steeper hills.
The Astra sedan doesn't have the handling ability of its hatch sibling, it also has a ridiculously large turning circle of 11.9m (the Mazda3's is 10.6m), but it just skims in at seven out of 10 thanks to that well-tuned suspension, that keeps the ride comfortable and composed, plus the great steering feel.
The Astra sedan is a different car to the hatch – but then it’s really aimed at different people, perhaps more mature ones. I mean one of the sedan’s paint colours, 'Old Blue Eyes', isn't available on the hatch. This could be a hint.
Either way the sedan could be a better pick for you because of its more comfortable ride, extra rear legroom and bigger boot.
As much as I like that manual, base-spec car, I think the sweet spot of this range would have to be the LS+ with its great safety equipment at a good price.
But wait. If you’re after the sedan just because it has more cargo space, you might be interested to know that the Astra Sportwagon will arrive by the end of the year – and that one looks a lot like the hatch.
|GTC||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$16,170 – 20,680||2017 HOLDEN ASTRA 2017 GTC Pricing and Specs|
|GTC Sport||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$16,170 – 20,680||2017 HOLDEN ASTRA 2017 GTC Sport Pricing and Specs|
|R||1.4L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$14,500 – 17,990||2017 HOLDEN ASTRA 2017 R Pricing and Specs|
|R+||1.4L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$16,888 – 16,984||2017 HOLDEN ASTRA 2017 R+ Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||6|