As good as Holden’s new Astra RS-V may be it still needs to work on the price
What is it?
Holden’s Astra is no stranger, apart from a brief hiatus when marketed under the original Opel badge.
Asked to pay more for the same thing, Aussies predictably said no and the exercise failed miserably.
The Euro hatch is back again as a Holden and in its current form is easily the best Astra we’ve driven in over a decade.
But, a word of warning – because not all Astras are created alike.
The entry model with cheap plastic steering wheel feels decidedly low rent and wreaks of smelly plastic.
In contrast the top of the range RS-V looks and feels the goods, certainly like something worth a place on your shopping list.
What’s it cost?
Prices have just been slashed, now starting from $21,490 for the 1.4 litre turbo manual.
But they could do with a further cut, especially when you can get your hands on a Golf for little over $1000 more.
Our test vehicle, the top of the range RS-V, with a larger 1.6 turbo and an auto is now $31,740 before on road costs.
At this price it stacks up better, with five star safety, a punchy turbocharged engine, 6-speed auto and some advanced driver assistance stuff like auto emergency braking, forward collision alert, blind spot warning and lane keeping assist.
Satnav, always worth having, is also part of the deal and includes school zone and speed camera warnings.
What’s it go like?
The turbocharged, direct injection 1.6-litre four cylinder engine packs a punch with a healthy 147kW of power and 300Nm of torque, the latter from a lowish 1700 revs.
To put this in context, it’s about the same output as a Golf GTI from a couple of generations back which pegs it as a warm hatch rather than an outright hot one.
Having said that there’s nothing disappointing about the way the RS-V drives.
Plant your right foot and it takes off, line up a corner and it exhibits impressive levels of grip, with steering that is sharp and accurate.
The brakes aren’t bad either.
But Holden apparently didn’t feel the need to do any work on the suspension, so we get the European tune.
It’s butter smooth on blacktop, but starts to unravel a bit in the backlots, with some twitch and bounce becoming evident.
What we like
- Sits low and looks slick.
- Equally stylish interior features a big touchscreen with Holden’s MyLink infotainment setup.
- The cabin is roomy with comfortable seats for front seat occupants and adequate rear legroom.
- Good to see a digital speedo and feels responsive to drive, with a sport button to enhance the action.
- Fuel economy is excellent. Rated at 6.3 we were getting 6.7L/100k after 600km.
What we don’t
- No CD player.
- Could do with more storage in the cabin.
- The interior is a big step up but still no match for the Japanese.
- As top of the line we were surprised to find it is not equipped with gear change paddles.
- You can change manually using the shifter, which older drivers may prefer – but it’s not quite the same.
- Auto stop-start works well, but reduces the output from the air conditioning when the engine switches off which is annoying.
- Even with the system set to recirculation, fumes still seemed to penetrate the cabin.
- Service interval is a short 9 months and it still only comes with a pedestrian 3-year/100,000km warranty.
What are the alternatives?
- Toyota Corolla ZR, from $30,020
Currently the best selling hatch in Australia. Love the predatory styling but you end up paying for extras and as yet Toyota does not offer either CarPlay or Android Auto.
- Hyundai i30 SR Premium $31,250
i30 has built a reputation for reliability and low fuel consumption and remains hard to be beat with its 5-year warranty. But there’s a new one on the way this year, so keep your powder dry.
- Mazda3 SP25 Astina, $33,490
Mazda3 has at times topped the sales list and is a difficult car to fault, especially with added equipment for the same price.
JUST THE SPECS of Holden Astra RS-V
Auto Price: from $31,740
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Capped priced servicing: $916 in total for 3 years/60,000km
Service interval: 9 months/15,000km Safety: 5 stars, 6 airbags
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol, 147kW/280Nm (300Nm with overboost)
Transmission: 6-speed auto; FWD
Fuel consumption: 6.3L/100km
Dimensions: 4386mm (L), 1809mm (W), 1485mm (H), 2662mm (WB)
Weight: 1363kg Spare: Space saver