THE Opel-built next-gen Holden Astra hatchback has been sprung undergoing European spring testing in Germany, showing it will take the fight up to rivals including the Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 308.
Due to make its global debut at September’s Frankfurt motor show, the Holden Astra is poised to replace the ageing Holden Cruze when production of the last-ever Aussie small car ceases in 2017.
The five-door Astra K hatch you see here will be built on the D2XX C-segment platform that, ironically, will also spawn the closely-related Holden Cruze replacement.
However, rumours suggest that the stylish three-door coupe body style may face the chop, leaving only the evergreen wagon and four-door sedan models.
GM is believed to be redirecting resources into the development of a C-segment crossover based on its global small-car architecture – a smart move considering that SUVs is where all the action is.
Besides boasting a sharper set of clothes and completely redesigned interior that’s about the same size as before, the Astra K is following in the footsteps of its Golf and 308 nemeses by focussing on significantly higher quality.
It is also reportedly shedding upwards of 100kg of weight in the interests of improved fuel efficiency and driveability.
A slew of lightweight three and four-cylinder downsized direct-injection petrol and diesel engine ranging from 1.0 to 1.6 litres are expected, all underpinned by a variation of the existing model’s Watts Link rear suspension system.
Holden fans should not confuse the all-new Astra K with the existing-gen Astra J-based GTC and VXR three-door hatch models returning to Australia next month, almost two years after their short-lived last visit wearing the Opel blitzkrieg badge. These are based on a design that dates back to 2009.
That’s not to say there won’t be high-performance offshoots to take on the GTI and co, with some reports suggesting future VXR variants will deliver more than 200kW of power.
As before, the Astra K will be built in the UK and Poland.
Concentrating only on the niche variants such as the existing coupe and related Holden Cascada convertible for the time being, Holden has yet to confirm the arrival of the more mainstream Astra hatchbacks as the eventual replacement for the Cruze, which still has about two years of fighting left despite being in long-term decline after six years on the Australian market.
However, it is clear that General Motors is in the midst of streamlining, with the next Astra stepping up as the corporation’s global small car combatant. The result will be pricing that will put the 2017 model right in the heartland of the Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and Ford Focus segment.
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