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Holden Astra

The Holden Astra is a compact car currently being manufactured by General Motors and sold through the Holden brand. The current Astra model is a rebadged Opel Astra.

First generation (1984–1989)

The 1984 Holden Astra LB, was a rebadged Nissan Pulsar (badged as the Nissan Cherry in Europe), built in Australia and sold only on the Australian market.

The Pulsars sold in Australia at that time were related to the Nissan Langley, while the Astra had a Pulsar-like grille designed by Australian stylist Paul Beranger housing the Holden lion badge. These versions were known as the LB and LC.

All versions were powered by a 1.5-litre engine which was a Nissan design, locally manufactured, and were offered in two trim levels, the SL/X and the SL/E. Unlike its Nissan counterpart, the Astra was only offered as a five-door hatchback, with the three-door hatchback, four-door sedan and five-door station wagon body styles omitted from the range due to fears they would overlap with Nissan's own Pulsar range. In a way this was similar to the Alfa Romeo Arna sold in Europe,which was also released in the same year.

In 1986, the Astra was now known as the Holden Astra LC and there was no major mechanical changes, the car was facelifted with no trim level change.

Second generation (1987–1989)

The Pulsar was again used as the basis for the Astra. This model was now known as the Holden Astra LD. It was sold in Australia (but not New Zealand) between 1987 and 1989.

The new Astra was launched in July 1987, and was discontinued in June 1989.

As with its predecessor, only a five-door hatchback and four-door sedan were available. A three-door hatchback version was never available, even though its Nissan Pulsar sister version had one, and there was no wagon version either (Nissan had two family car station wagons, a Pulsar wagon, and the Nissan Sunny California).

Engines available for the Astra LD included a 1.6 or 1.8 litre engine, both of which were their own in-house design, rather than Nissan. All had fuel injection, and were badged 1.6i or 1.8i. They were known as the Family II series engines when used in the Australian-built Pulsars and Astras. All Astra models had a disc/drum brake setup, whereas the equivalent Australian Pulsars had 4-wheel disc brakes as standard.

There were three versions available: SL, SL/X and SL/E. SL trim level was the entry-level variant, and it had a 1.6-litre Family II engine, badged as 1.6i. This had 5-speed manual transmission only. This came as a five-door hatchback only. SL/X trim level was slightly higher-specification than the SL variant, and was available with the 1.8i engine only. Both 5-speed manual and automatic transmissions were available. SL/E trim level was the highest specification offered, and had both 1.6i and 1.8i engines available, and both transmissions were offered. This was equivalent to Nissan's GXE specification offered on the related Pulsar.

The car was considered to be better than its 1983-1987 forebear by the Australian edition of Auto Trader.

HSV Astra SV1800

Holden Special Vehicles also offered a version of the LD Astra marketed as the HSV Astra SV1800. The SV1800 was available as a sedan or a hatchback with the majority using the sedan bodystyle. Approximately 65 total cars were sold. Upgrades from a standard Astra to the Astra SV1800 were limited to cosmetic changes. Engine specifications for the standard Astra LD and the Astra SV1800 were identical.

In 1989, all associations with Nissan were severed and a new agreement between Toyota and Holden was formed instead. This agreement (part of the Button Plan created United Australian Automobile Industries (UAAI).

Third generation (1996–1998)

After the Button Plan had ended, Holden opted to return to marketing rebadged General Motors vehicles. The third-generation Astra, which was known as the Holden Astra TR was designed by Opel, another subsidiary of General Motors located in Germany.

In 1995, Holden began selling the Astra again in the New Zealand market. This version of the Astra was named the Astra TR, and was imported from Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire, England. However, this was merely a rebadging of an existing Opel/Vauxhall product: the Opel Astra had in fact been sold there since 1993.

In 1996, Holden then began selling the car in Australia. The Astra TR was Holden's version of the Opel Astra F.

Much like the rebadged versions from the 1980s, there was little difference between the Opel Astra F and the Holden Astra TR.

Fourth generation (1998–2005)

In 1998, the Astra was replaced again with a German-sourced version. Known as the Holden TS Astra, it was equipped with either a 1.6, 1.8 or a 2.2 16V petrol engine and was offered in a City, CD, CDXi, the SXi and the SRi specifications. The SRi was three-door hatchback only, and the standard Astra was only available with a 1.8 litre 16-valve engine. The TS Astra was similar to the Chevrolet Astra of the South American market, although only the latter received the sharper facelift — the European and Australian versions retained the softer curves of the original body.

The TS Astra model change followed that of the Opel Astra G range, including the sedan, hatchback and convertible. However, the Coupé by Bertone was not offered with a Holden badge. The drivetrain was identical to other cars in in the Astra lineup, and as such, was not a bona-fide sports car. Like the Astra A, the Astra B was available as a wagon in New Zealand, but not Australia. In 2003, a 2.0 litre Turbo engine became available. The standard Astra was only available with a 1.8 litre 16-valve engine, and lived on until 2005 as the Holden Astra Classic, alongside the new model. The philosophy behind this was for Holden to remain competitive in the market until the cheaper Viva model was introduced.

In Australia, both the 1996-98 Holden Astra TR and the 1998-04 Holden Astra TS were assessed in the 2006 Used Car Safety Ratings as providing "better than average" protection for their occupants in the event of a crash.

Fifth generation (2004–present)

The fifth generation Holden AH Astra was now based on the Opel Astra H. This five-door hatchback was sold in Australia from December 2004, selling alongside the Polish-built Astra G, which carried "Astra Classic" badges. However, the Astra Classic was dropped in late 2005, and replaced by the new Holden Viva, a rebadged Daewoo Lacetti.

In August 2005, the Astra station wagon was released in Australia, with a 1.9 CDTI option added in June 2008, the diesel Astra also marked the return of the Astra Wagon to the New Zealand market after a four-year absence.

Diesel variants of the Astra were released in June 2006, which was a first for the Astra in Australia (But not New Zealand where the Astra A had previously been offered with a 1.7 litre Turbo Diesel). Two versions were offered: a six-speed manual option with a 1.9 litre CDTi engine, and a six-speed automatic model with an version of the same engine. In January 2007, Holden released the Astra SRi and Twintop. Both come with a 2.2 litre petrol engine producing , available with the six-speed manual or four-speed automatic. The 5 Door SRi has since been dropped, but remains available as a 3 Door Coupe.

The current line-up consists of: CD, CDX, CDTi, SRi and SRi Turbo and the VXR. CDXi was dropped after the arrival of the CDTi, which is similar to the CDXi physically but is higher-specced inside.

AH models come with front and side impact airbags as standard inclusions.

From mid-way through 2006, the MY06.5 revision was released which includes head-protecting curtain airbags as standard equipment for tbe CDX variants.

In mid-2007 the Astra line-up received a facelift including tweaked front grille and lights on all models, and a power upgrade with the 1.8 litre petrol engines from to , meaning a power increase of 11%. The engines available in the SRi, SRi Turbo and CDTi remain unchanged.

In 2008 the Astra received a minor update. Cosmetically, the Astra remained unchanged, however a diesel wagon was made available with the same 6-speed automatic engine available in the hatch. ESP was made standard across the entire Astra lineup, previous only available on SRi and CDTi variants. Subsequently, the 5-dr SRi was re-introduced and along with the 3-dr is now standard with the 1.8 litre petrol engine. The 2.2 litre engine previously available in SRi range, is still standard on the Twintop.

References

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