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Holden Astra CDTi 5-door hatchback
New Astra talks the torque
August 2006

YOU can't help but smile when you hop into a new Holden Astra diesel.

That's because one of the first things you see is a distance-to-empty fuel range readout that shows 932km. Oh joy!

If you drive this zippy customer sensibly, you can sail along for weeks without having to stop and hand over your hard-earned cash to a service station attendant.

In this day and age, that's bliss.

From a 52-litre tank, it's possible to extract well over 900km, averaging under six litres of diesel for every 100km covered.

It's true that diesel costs about 10 per cent more at the bowser, but it can take you up to 30 per cent farther.

Enter the latest variant of the Holden Astra, Australia 's biggest-selling European-imported car.

The Belgian-made newcomer is the first Holden diesel released here since the oil-burning version of the Gemini, back in the early 1980s.

The feature-packed Astra CDTi five-door hatchback, as tested, boasts a 1.9 litre turbo-diesel unit that, as well as being remarkably frugal, offers outstanding performance.

It came with six-speed automatic transmission, a first for Holden passenger cars.

The single-cam eight-valve heart provides 88 kW of peak power at 3500rpm and 280Nm of torque at 2000rpm. An Active Select feature allows the driver to shift manually for a sharper driving feel.

Forget the chug-along diesels of old, these modern numbers and their slick transmissions keep things zinging along nicely by tapping into all the wonderful torque on offer.

You get the best of both worlds as the Astra zips through the city traffic, or cruises along the open road with consumate ease.

One of the new Holden's few hurdles will be price. For a small car, the $31,490 pricetag (CDTi auto model) may deter those looking for more of a bargain.

The petrol-engined Astra CDX is around $5500 less, but is not as well equipped, doesn't drive as well and can't come near the diesel's fuel figures.

Standard features in the CDTi include Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with traction control, ABS, driver, front passenger and front side impact airbags, full length curtain airbags, 16-inch alloy wheels (steel spare), fog lights, cruise control, air conditioning and trip computer.

Holden Chairman and Managing Director Denny Mooney said it was the first time Holden's second biggest-selling car line had offered diesel engines.

Mr Mooney said diesel vehicle sales in Australia were on the rise as they offered performance, economic and environmental benefits.

"Combining Astra's great looks with new diesel technology and a sharp price is sure to draw Australian motorists to these cars," Mr Mooney said.

It builds on what is already Australia's most comprehensive small car range.

Astra CDTi turbo diesel shares the same well-balanced proportions and striking European design of its petrol-powered five-door hatchback siblings.

It is identified externally by unique twin-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and CDTi badging at the rear.

The spacious and flexible interior features a smart charcoal fabric trim, contoured seating, comfortable cockpit layout and 60/40 rear fold flexibility.

There's adequate room for five people, although there's not a great deal of leg room for the driver.

There is a nifty leather-wrap steering wheel with remote audio controls, single CD player with MP3 function, power windows all round, remote external mirrors and six-way adjustable driver's seat.

Exterior colours include: Black Sapphire (metallic), Star Silver (metallic), Casablanca White, Ultra Blue (metallic), Pannacotta Gold (metallic), and Moonland (mid grey metallic), which is new to Astra.

All attributes considered, the diesel Astra is an exciting, safe and stylish hatch that will reward those who look beyond its initial cost and reap longer term savings at the bowser.



ENGINE: 1.9-litre turbo-diesel

POWER: 88kW at 3500rpm

TORQUE: 280Nm at 2000rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed auto, front wheel drive

ECONOMY: Average 6 litres/100km average


FEATURES: Driver and front passenger airbags, plus side and curtain airbags up-front, ABS, traction control, electronic stability system, alloy wheels, air-conditioning

PROS: Fuel economy, good performance, safety equipment

CONS: Price, driver could use more leg room, cheapish interior

BOTTOM LINE: $31,490 as tested