Holden Launches Pivotal new Astra Hatch

MY17_Astra_RSV_Dynamic_F3Q (2)

MY17_Astra_RSV_Dynamic_Side

MY17_Astra_RSV_Detail_LightMY17_Astra_RSV_Detail_Rear Light

MY17_Astra_RSV_Interior_Detail_OdometerMY17_Astra_R_Interior_Screen

MY17_Astra_RSV_Interior_Detail_ScreenMY17_Astra_R_Interior

Much depends on Holden’s new baby. Astra replaces the aging Cruze sedan/hatch/wagon as well as the recently re-introduced Astra previously seen here as the Opel.

The svelte new Astra is 140kg lighter than her flabby old sister and bristles with shiny new tech. Holden’s fleet was starting to look a bit tired an emotional ,and Astra goes a long way to assuaging the justified unflattering critique of one of Australia’s founding fathers of automotive manufacture.

Astra is designed in Germany and manufactured in Gliwice, Poland. The designers have gone out of their way to be modern and innovative while maintaining the spirit of the old car.

From the outside, the change is subtle even though the car is completely new. Kurt Beyer, Opel’s chief interior designer, spoke at length of the intricacies of both exterior and interior attributes. The lines are crisp, and the roof floats thanks to the rear pillars that disappear into an air-spoiling rear fin. You’ll only notice it when you touch it, and that’s the way Kurt likes it. We’ll turn to the cabin shortly, meanwhile there is much outside to put an eye over.

The option of the uber-sexy IntelliLux adaptive LED matrix headlamps is by far the biggest news for the handsome face of Astra. They look like a Tiffany diamond ring display during the day, and look like fireworks once the starter is pressed. The system allows fully automatic high beam function, but in an unexpected way. The forward-facing camera and radar system assesses the light in front of the car. The blue-ish light is as near to daylight as is currently possible. As tail lights, head lights, street lights and MY17 Astra RS-V IntelliLux LED matrix headlightvarious other lights are detected, the system switches individual LEDs on and off. It doesn’t sound all that amazing until you see it in action. For example, the system sees an oncoming car, and switches the high beam off, but only the bit where the oncoming car is. This means either side of it remains fully ifully bathed in daylight. You can still see far ahead so street signs and gutters are bright and clear while the oncoming driver is subtly mood-lit.

Looking at the lights coming towards you is like being at a Bieber concert minus the dreadful music. As you approach, you can see the lights going on and off as you pass through the various points of reference but at no time are you dazzled. It is so amazing that Holden’s presser featured many references to the lights. Holden’s Comms Director, Sean Poppitt, said that these lights are the new big thing, and I reckon he is on to something. Previously these lights have been seen only on posh Euro barges but that’s about it. Currently this option is part of the $3,990 Innovations Pack but is not available until early next year thanks to those buggers in the northern hemisphere sucking up all the stock. GM has hugely underestimated the uptake of these super-cool must-have accessories. Adaptive Cruise Control (radar cruise control to you and me) is also part of the pack as is, meh… a sunroof. The cruise control also has a queue function which slows you in traffic. If you stop and don’t move off again in 3 seconds, the system pauses with the brake on. When the car in front moves, all you have to do is hit “resume” on the steering wheel, or tap the accelerator. You can also get active lane departure. Your car will gently guide you back into the lane. This is particularly handy if texting your bestie is more important than not mowing down sundry OAPs. Again, this is part of a pack. I’m sensing a pattern here.

MY17_Astra_RSV_Interior

Smart entry/start on the RS get you in to your car without a key, as long as the key is secreted about your person. There is a starter button instead of a key hole for the ignition, so Bob’s-your-uncle if your hand bag is like the Tardis.

No longer will you be left in Coles a car park, wet as a shag on a rock, searching frantically for keys as rain drips down your nose.

Holden thinks the volumes will mainly favour the entry level R model. The RS, and RS-V add bits and bobs such as leather, auto climate and auto wipers. We shoved the list in down below for those who can’t be arsed going to Holden’s website.

Kurt Beyer took is on a tour of the cabin. He noted the edges of the infotainment screen he faceted so they don’t present a big ugly rectangle to the occupants. He impressed the importance of the subtle curves of the façade, and the quality of the metal trim snd other finishes. The subtle mood lighting is a little less “drag queen” than some of the opposition which is not a bad thing.

There is a small Iphone 7 sized rubber lined shelf. It is placed so that your phone and be plugged into the CarPLay system but still be seen easily. You can have both the main screen and your phone displaying data at the same time. Kurt tells me there are fuses behind the panel so the shelf also acts as a handle. They’re very thoughtful touches.

Mid and top range models have the more powerful 1.6 engine and with 147kw, has a bit more zing than the 110kw 1.4 of the R base model. The R is 80kg lighter than the RS-V at 1283kg VS 1363kg so the difference isn’t as great as you might first think.

The real test of a car comes with the drive. Astra competes against Corolla, Golf and other small/medium hatches. The competition is stiff with the VW Golf being just that bit ahead especially in the hot-hatch department. Holden was tightlipped on the subject of the high-performance models. Since there is a hot model in the old range, it’s reasonable to assume Holden will add some chili to the new one at some stage. Ironically, 147kw was once considered extremely hot.

The first part of the launch experience was at the driver education centre in Canberra. The skid pan was a perfect place to let rip in the motorcana. Sean Poppitt says Holden doesn’t hide from its cars. In other words, they’re happy to expose both the good and the bad.

Under extreme cornering, there was a quite bit of understeer. Grabbing a handful of lock mid corner used to be a recipe for disaster, but the nannies make sure the car is kept shiny side up. Later, on the road the manners were impeccable.

The ride even on harsh tarmac had a comfy sophistication thanks to McPherson Strut with Torsion bar

at the front, and Compound crank rear axle with Watts Link in the back. Rack mounted electric power steering is the preferred option for those wanting a more precise feel. Rack mounted allows finer calibration meaning the system is better able to simulate the road feel of old. Like all cars with electric steering, the feel, no matter how good, is artificial.

The drive feels competent, and above all, safe. Astra costs more than many of its competitors but has many more safety features as standard. There are even more features available as options. Some say options packs are too expensive and not worth it at any price. The alternate argument says the ability to customise a car according to budget and need is extremely important. Here’s a list, you decide:

All-new Holden Astra spec and features highlights

R highlights:

 1.4-litre turbo ECOTEC engine – all aluminum

 6-speed automatic/manual transmission

 Stop/start fuel saving (AT only)

 6 airbags

 Electronic Stability Control, ABS and Traction Control System

 Hill Start Assist

 Multi-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels (4)

 Sports styling: front and rear sports fascia,

 Electric Power Steering (EPS)

 Rear view camera

 Rear Park Assist

 ISOFIX child seat anchorage system (x2)

 Projector headlamps (halogen) with LED DRLs

 Cruise control and speed limiter

 Holden MyLink Infotainment System with 7-inch high-resolution colour touch-screen display

o Apple CarPlay® and Android® Auto phone projection

o DAB+

o Full iPod® integration including Siri Eyes Free*

 Bluetooth® audio streaming and auxiliary input jack

RS highlights over R:

 1.6-litre turbo ECOTEC engine – all aluminum

 6-speed automatic/manual transmission

 Stop/start fuel saving

 Sports 5-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels (4)

 Passive Entry and Push-button start

 Leather steering wheel

 Heated wing mirrors

 Advanced park assist (auto parallel and perpendicular reverse park)

 Front park assist

 Holden Eye forward facing camera

o Automatic Emergency Braking

o Lane Keep Assist

o Forward Distance Indicator

o Forward Collision Alert with Head-Up Warning

 Blind Spot Alert

 Rain sensing wipers

RS-V highlights over RS:

 Two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels

 LED tail lamps

 Remote start

 Adaptive Cruise control^ Optional

 Electric park brake

 Heated leather appointed sports seats

 Heated steering wheel

 Power lumbar adjustment

 Dual zone climate control

 Holden MyLink Infotainment System with 8-inch high-resolution colour touch-screen display

o Apple CarPlay® and Android® Auto phone projection

o DAB+

o Full iPod® integration including Siri Eyes Free*

 Satellite Navigation with full colour mapping with live traffic updates, traffic management control and points of interest

 Colour digital instrument display: vehicle information menu, trip information menu, fuel economy menu, warning/messages

Special Packs

Driver Assistance Pack (optional on R, available April ‘17) – $1,000

 Leather steering wheel

 Electrochromatic rear view mirror

 Rain-sensing wipers

 Holden Eye forward facing camera

o Automatic Emergency Braking

o Lane Keep Assist

o Forward Distance Indicator

o Forward Collision Alert with Head-Up Warning

Touring Pack (optional on RS-V) – $1,990

 Electric sunroof

 Adaptive Cruise Control

Innovations Pack (optional on RS-V) – $3,990

 Electric sunroof

 Adaptive Cruise Control

 IntelliLux adaptive LED matrix headlamps

ENGINE, FUEL ECONOMY AND EMISSIONS 1.4-litre turbo

(Astra R)

1.6-litre turbo

(Astra RS and RS-V)

MT

AT

MT

AT

Engine type

1.4-litre ECOTEC SIDI, 4-cylinder

1.6-litre ECOTEC SIDI, 4-cylinder

Transmission

6-speed MT

6-speed AT

6-speed MT

6-speed AT

Capacity (cc)

1399

1399

1598

1598

Compression ratio

10:1

10:1

9.5:1

9.5:1

Maximum power (kW)

110

110

147

147

Maximum torque

(Nm)

245

240

300 with overboost

300 with overboost

Bore x stroke

74 x 81.3

74 x 81.3

79 x 81.5

79 x 81.5

Fuel management system

Direct Injection

Direct Injection

Fuel requirement

91 RON

91 RON

95 RON

95 RON

Fuel tank capacity (L)

48

48

48

48

Fuel economy combined (l/100km)

5.8

5.8

6.5

6.3

Emissions (g/km)

135

133

149

146

Conclusion:

Astra has to work, it just has to. The consequences of failure are unconscionable. I like Astra very much. I like the sharp looks, the classy cabin and the great performance. Holden told me they won’t be chasing sales by discounting it, but is the price too high to start with? Cruze and Captiva were held too long in the portfolio, and Holden has some building to do if the new Insignia to be rebadged as Commodore is to be accepted by the public.

Astra was reintroduced after the disastrous Opel brand failed after only a year. Since then, Astra has not been a big seller against Corolla and i30. If Astra is to stand a ghost of a hope, the top model cannot have a “3” as the first number. Holden was flogging the top Cruze in the low 30’s but frankly the sales were dismal.

Yes, Astra is advanced and yes, it is “car of the year” in many Euro Mags, but many a good Eurocar failed here because they cost too much. If punters are going to pay over the odds, they’ll go the whole hog and by BMW. If Astra is to succeed, the proposed “packs” should be thrown in to the top model. It must represent good value as well as be a great handler..

I like Astra very much, but would I buy one? I’m torn and on this one, and I would have to wait and see. I would have to drive one back to back against Golf, i30 and possibly the aging Focus. This hotly contested segment has wafer thin profits, at least for the Australian arm of the overseas automakers. The competition is mighty fine and it would be a tough gig to knock off my current favourite, Golf. Unusually, I’m sorry not to have been more help.

PRICING

2017 Holden Astra Recommended Retail Pricing

1.4L turbo R manual $21,990

1.4L turbo R automatic $24,190

1.6L turbo RS manual $26,490

1.6L turbo RS automatic $28,690

1.6L turbo RS-V manual $30,990

1.6L turbo RS-V automatic $33,190

Holden Honours Manufacturing Legacy with Final Cruze Small Car

 

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  • Australia’s last locally-built small car rolls off the assembly line as Holden continues its transition to a full importer
  • Cruze represents proud chapter in Holden’s history
  • Final Cruzes donated to charity
  • All-new Astra hatch to replace Cruze from 1 December, 2016

Today Holden has marked a milestone in the company’s manufacturing history with the final Holden Cruze rolling off the production line at the Elizabeth assembly plant in South Australia. As Holden continues to transition from manufacturing to becoming a design, engineering and importing business for the long-term, the company is committed to honouring the contribution of its people to Australia’s automotive industry.

This morning Holden Chairman and Managing Director Mark Bernhard paid tribute to Holden’s employees in launching, designing and building Australia’s locally-made small car: “Those who were involved in the Cruze project have a strong, and deserved, sense of pride at what was achieved in terms of project development, management, engineering, design and, of course, production.

“Holden’s business is changing and we are building a bright future, but it is equally important to recognise and honour our people and our heritage. We’re incredibly proud of our manufacturing history and our legacy; I want to thank every Holden employee, and all those people in the supply chain, for their personal contribution to our industry and our company,” said Mr Bernhard.

The final Cruze – a SRI Z-series hatch – was driven off the assembly line at 8.30 this morning.

The final Cruze hatch and final sedan have been donated to Holden’s longtime charity partner, the Leukaemia Foundation, which will raffle the cars to fundraise for patient transport services and accommodation.

These cars will be handed over to the Leukaemia Foundation this afternoon, before the foundation launches a raffle at its Light the Night event in Victoria Square, Adelaide, this evening.

Leukaemia Foundation General Manager SA/NT Simon Matthias said it was an honour to receive the last two Cruze cars from the production line at Holden’s Elizabeth plant.

“More than 60,000 Australians are living with leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and related blood disorders and funds raised from the raffle of these cars will help continue critical patient transport services, support research and provide further patient support and accommodation.”

Holden Executive Director Manufacturing Richard Phillips said the current Cruze and Commodore models were the best quality cars Holden has ever built in Australia.

“The passion and dedication of the manufacturing workforce means they continually raise their quality standards and they are determined that the last cars built at Elizabeth will be the best quality ever,” Mr Phillips said.

“As with any other model ending production, we hold 10 years of spare parts, and there will be no change to warranties or service agreements.”

The end of Cruze production will see around 270 Holden employees leave the business throughout the remainder of October, and into November, all on a voluntary basis. This is fewer than forecast in July, due to ongoing domestic demand for the locally made Commodore models.

Every Holden worker has access to a suite of transition services and up to $3000 in approved training – all part of Holden’s $15 million contribution to the federal government’s Growth Fund for specific support of manufacturing employees.

Holden’s Transition Centre at Elizabeth is set up to provide a range of support services for staff including information sessions, workshops, career counselling, employment expos, resume writing, interview skills preparation and more.

Of the approximately 450 employees who have left Holden in the last two years, 78% have transitioned successfully to jobs, retirement or study with 67% going into new jobs.

Cruze production has been forecast to end in 2016 since 2014, as part of a gradual scaling down of production. Holden will continue to build the world-class Commodore at Elizabeth until late 2017.

Beyond 2017, Holden will retain a significant presence in Australia for the long-term, including its sales and marketing operations, spare parts organisation, world-class design studios and an ongoing engineering department. As a full-line importer, Holden is committed to refreshing or replacing every single model in its portfolio by the end of 2020. 

Cruze History and Details: 
Since production at Elizabeth began in early 2011, 126,255 Cruze sedan and hatch models have been built.

As the last small car and the most fuel-efficient model to be made in Australia, Cruze allowed Holden to develop new small car engineering and manufacturing skills, and to keep jobs and automotive manufacturing in South Australia in the wake of the global financial crisis.  

Planning for Cruze manufacture started in 2008, with the sedan model eventually launched by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard in February 2011. But Cruze’s Australian ties run deeper than manufacturing. The Cruze hatch – introduced into the Elizabeth plant alongside the sedan in late 2011 – was designed by Holden at its Port Melbourne International Design Centre.

Holden couldn’t have built Cruze without the help of the federal and South Australian governments. Combined with Holden’s own considerable investment, government investment allowed new, flexible vehicle architecture to be introduced to the Elizabeth plant. Cruze was produced using more environmentally-friendly technologies and practices than any other time in Holden’s history.

High-Tech, High-Style: All-New Holden Astra is Coming Soon

 

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  • First Holden Astra rolls off the production line in Europe
  • Special pre-order campaign sees Holden Astra pricing start at $21,990
  • Advanced technology includes Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Alert, IntelliLux LED Matrix headlamps, Apple CarPlay® and Android® Auto and rear view camera
  • Holden Astra on sale from December 2016

Holden has announced the high-tech, all-new Astra will soon arrive in Australia with customers able to get their hands on the 2016 European Car of the Year for as little as $21,990. Customers are urged to register their interest early by visiting Holden’s ‘Astra: Coming Soon’ webpage or by contacting their local Holden All-New Holden Astra gaycarboys (3)dealer.   

Rolling off Opel’s Gliwice production line for the first time, the all-new Holden Astra comes to Australia after receiving multiple awards and accolades in Europe… thanks to its impressive blend of premium European styling, world-class driving experience and an array of high-tech features.

Holden Executive Director of Sales, Peter Keley, said the all-new Astra will be the next vehicle to be launched in Holden’s huge new product onslaught and offered the perfect combination of leading design, performance and technology with exceptional customer value.

“It’s incredibly exciting to see the first all-new Holden Astra built and ready to ship – it’s a stunning car, packed with state-of-the-art technology, and another great example of the exciting future vehicles we will be introducing over the next couple of years. Holden has committed to replacing or refreshing every single model in our line-up as part of our plan to launch 24 new models by the end of 2020,” said Mr. Keley.

“Astra’s premium European design oozes quality and style, and with Australian input and extensive global testing, you can be sure it will deliver the performance and refinement Holden has built its reputation on.

“Standout features including Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Alert and Active Lane Keep Assist, ensure the all-new Astra brings premium tech and polish to the segment.

“Astra’s combination of state-of-the-art technology, style and performance, coupled with very attractive All-New Holden Astra gaycarboys (4)pricing, will shake-up the small-car segment and redefine what a Holden small car can be.”

ALL-NEW EUROPEAN DESIGN

Whilst the Astra name is long serving in Australia, the incoming Astra is all-new. Developed from a clean-sheet design under the watchful eye of Opel/Vauxhall’s Vice President – Design, Mark Adams, Astra exhibits the same sleek, ‘Sculptural Artistry meets German Precision’ design philosophy first introduced on the stunning Monza concept in 2013.

Focused on blending style and efficiency, Astra is built off a new vehicle architecture that facilitates up to 130kg weight reduction whilst allowing the introduction of distinct styling cues. A rear floating roof design complemented by a sports front fascia and grille that extends seamlessly into the front LED headlamp design, give Astra a strong and unmistakable road presence.

PACKED WITH STATE-OF-THE-ART TECHNOLOGY

Aside from enhancing Astra’s design, the IntelliLux LED Matrix headlamps^ lead the display of state-of-the-art technology packed into the ninth of the 24 new models Holden is committed to launching by 2020. Consisting of 16 individual LED segments – eight on each side of the vehicle – the new LED Matrix system works with the Holden Eye front camera to automatically adapt length and distribution of the light beam, All-New Holden Astra gaycarboys (2)depending on traffic situations. 

Astra’s raft of high-tech features also extends into active safety.  Rear view camera is available as standard across the range, accompanied by Holden Eye forward facing camera^ facilitating key features including Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking and Side Blind Spot Alert to reduce, and in some cases avoid, collision incidents.

Equally as impressive as Astra’s exterior design is an interior that effortlessly blends style with technology, significantly reducing the number of buttons and adding an element of simplicity when compared with its predecessor.  Centered around a colour touch screen display housing the latest Holden MyLink with Apple CarPlay® and Android® Auto** phone projection technology, Astra boasts luxury leather-appointed, heated front seat as well as a premium heated seated wheel.

ASTRA DRIVES LIKE A HOLDEN SHOULD

Astra is equipped with a new and frugal all-aluminum, 1.4-litre ECOTEC Direct Injection turbo engine capable of producing up to 110 kW of power and 240Nm of torque with a targeted combined fuel consumption of as little as 5.8L/100km. Customers that enjoy a sportier drive have the option of a more powerful 1.6-litre ECOTEC Direct Injection turbo engine, boasting up to 147kW of power and a 300Nm of torque.

Holden’s Director of Vehicle Performance, Ian Butler, said Holden and Opel identified efficiencies and similarities in customers’ expectations and vehicle usage and were able to work together to develop a common vehicle setup.

“Holden and Opel share very similar D.N.A. but we still made sure our engineers were involved in developing Astra and setting targets, right from the start of the program,” Mr. Butler said.

“We’ve engineered our own unique Australian chassis input which, when combined with the new 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine options, we’re confident will excel on the variety of road surfaces in Australia.

“Along with Spark and Colorado, Astra is another great example of how Holden is collaborating with GM engineers globally to ensure we can deliver the best vehicles to Australia and also share our expertise for the benefit of other markets.”

The high-tech all-new Astra will go sale in December with customers encouraged to register their interest with dealers early, to avoid missing out.

2017 Holden Astra Feature Highlights

Astra R

  • 1.4-litre turbo ECOTEC engine
  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • 7-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay® and Android® Auto
  • Rear View Camera with Rear Park Assist
  • Digital Radio

Astra RS (above Astra R)

  • 1.6-litre turbo ECOTEC engine
  • Passive Entry Push-button Start
  • Advanced Park Assist
  • Side Blind Spot Alert
  • Holden Eye forward facing camera with:
    • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
    • Forward Collision Alert
    • Lane Keep Assist

Astra RS-V (above Astra R)

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Leather-appointed, front heated seats
  • Heated Steering Wheel
  • 8-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay® and Android® Auto
  • Embedded satellite navigation
  • LED tail lamps
  • Dual zone climate control

2017 Holden Astra Recommended Retail Pricing

1.4L turbo R manual                                      $21,990
1.4L turbo R automatic                                    $24,190

1.6L turbo RS manual                                     $26,490
1.6L turbo RS automatic                                 $28,690

1.6L turbo RS-V manual                                 $30,990
1.6L turbo RS-V automatic                              $33,190

^ model dependent (IntelliLux LED Matrix headlamps are an optional extra on RS-V)

** MyLink infotainment system not compatible with all devices. Apple CarPlay is a registered trade mark of Apple Inc. Android is a registered trade mark of Google Inc.

Astra has received numerous awards including:

Holden Colorado facelift is More Than Skin Deep

 

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Above: Only in Australia. Photos by Deanna Avzangelis

 

Colorado Xtreme (1)

Colorado Xtreme (2)Colorado Xtreme (3)

Above: Chevy Colorado Extreme

Below: Holden Colorado

MY17 Colorado_Z71_R3Q_StaticMY17 Colorado_LTZ_F3Q_Dynamic_Mud

MY17 Colorado_LTZ_F3Q_Dynamic (2)

 

 

Launch Photo Album

 

Where else would you reveal a workhorse but on a working farm? Canny old Holden wanted to show Colorado in what should be its natural surroundings even if most of them probably won’t work terribly hard in real life.

First, the boring stuff.

The changes

The Drive

– Redesigned grille, fascia and bonnet

– All-new chassis tune

– Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber torque converter

– All-new engine and transmission mounts

– Electronic Power Steering

– Engine acoustic pack

– Wind noise package

– LED Daytime Running Lights

The Cabin

7/8-inch colour touchscreen with Apple Carplay® and Android® Auto compatibility

– Remote vehicle start and remote window down with key fob (LTZ and Z71 AT)

– Heated front seats (Z71)

– Embedded satellite navigation (LTZ and Z71)

Safety

– 7 airbags (Driver knee, dual front, side and curtain airbags)

-TCS, ABS, ESC, Hill Descent

– Rear View Camera (across pick-up range)

– Parking sensors (front and rear on LTZ, Z71)

– Lane Departure Warning

– Forward Collision Alert

– Auto headlamps with LED DRLs

– Tyre Pressure Monitoring (LTZ and Z71)

– Structural reinforcements

Now, the fun stuff:

A quaint homestead on a working farm was a perfect backdrop for the uber-nimble Colorado MKII.

First, we corralled the ute in a large pen where she could kick up her heals. And kick she did. She went sideways through slaloms having far more fun than a humble tradie’s tool has any right to. As the dust flew, I had to pinch myself so I didn’t forget I was in a pick-up capable of towing 3,500kgs.

Towing is enough of a handful for the uninitiated, let alone a hMY17 Colorado_Z71_Lightumble writer more at home in a coffee shop in Surry Hills. So, to make things interesting, Holden engineer Amelinda Watt hooked up 2,500kgs worth of digger and trailer. “No worries”, she said, “I’ll tell you what to do”. That’s like telling a surgeon how to remove a brain, over the phone.

Unlike many updates, Holden had input from the inception. There were local changes important enough to be adopted by other markets. Australia’s talent can’t be underestimated, but back to the challenge.

Undaunted, I jumped on board. Despite some dodgy directions, the digger was safely ensconced in her witch’s hat garage quicker than you can say “Clancy of the Overflow”.

In a manual base-model, we did a quick round of a yard, lined her up, then reversed into a space designed to fit a family hatch and a washing machine. Reversing a large heavy trailer is one thing, but a tall, heavy excavator makes the event all the more piquant. It is easier than you might think. Even towing such a heavy load, the Colorado felt easy to maneuver.

The auto version would have been even easier to handle.

On the bitumen, the Colorado is notably quieter than before. Although Holden’s engineers have put a lot of work into local tuning, the ute is a GM product, so is available worldwide. It’s hard to believe that this is considered mid-sized vehicle in the USA. It explains a lot about the American Psyche, and the size of their bums.

MY17 Colorado_CentreConsole

The engine sound deadening and body sound proofing has made an enormous difference to cabin noise levels. There is also less wind noise, and the engine/transmission mounts mean less vibration too. The pendulum mechanism fitted to the torque converter has minimised the unwanted quivering from the transmission making the driving experience both quieter and smoother. The occupants can speak quietly just like they would in a regular road-going sedan, and still hear the Radio National news.

Much of the day was spent on the open road in and around South East Queensland. The road surfaces varied from dreadful, to appalling, and they were the good bits. The 147kw/500Nm Duramax turbo diesel is the most powerful in class, and thanks to the subtle changes, now feels it. Holden have taken the fight right up to the Amarok which was the comfiest in the segment. Here is a quick side by side comparison of others in the class:-

clip_image002clip_image004

It would have been easy to think of the facelift as just a bit of spit and polish, but the road trip made the Colorado feel like a feel contender for a sexy-weekend active-utility accessory it always should have been. You could easily pull a boat or jet ski, with enough room for 4 mates and all the sundry gear you could possibly think of. Pick-ups are no longer solely the reserve of bare-chested tradies. Oh grow up! Get your minds out of the gutter.

During the drive, we rotated through several trim level models with differing load in the back. Holden had stowed mulch, sand, and other such bucolic accoutrements in the cargo hold. The weights varied from 200kg to 500kg in order to demonstrate how the ride was not adversely affected by load regardless of road surface. More importantly, it didn’t bounce all over the road like a demented pin-pong ball when unladen. Many a ute has suspension set to take a tonne, but rattles your kidneys loose with just the driver on board.

The loads stayed in the back as we headed off-road to get a bit dirty. I don’t quite understand why you would MY17 Colorado_Clusterwant to, but in case you do, Colorado can cope with the shoddiest of goat tracks. There is a lot of satisfaction knowing you can go from the car park at Bunnings, to a clearing on a heavily wooded mountain, and the only thing you have to remember to do is pack the tent and gingham rug. Personally, I’d rather stick blunt chopsticks in my eyes.

So, now you know. I’m no dirt aficionado but if I can handle it, you certainly can. I just need a shower and a gin and tonic afterwards.

I like the comfort with which a Colorado tackles bumping over deeply rutted terrain. On more than one occasion I asked far more of the suspension than I should have, and despite the awful commotion going on below, it was nothing Colorado wasn’t built to handle.

My co-driver fiddled with the off-road controls to slowly descend steeper sections of the track. The heavily packed pick-up stepped carefully even with a heavy load. It was impressive. Even in normal mode, the Holden knows if you’ve got a load on, and will use engine braking on the open road. You get a large friendly message on the driver’s instrument panel letting you know “stage 2 engine braking has been engaged” as you coast down a steep hill. The “truck” as Holden wants us to call it, is looking after you whether you aware of it or not. It’s strangely reassuring.

The upper models get: lane departure, satnav along, auto headlights and wipers to make you feel dead posh. All models get nifty rear cameras, and the now-ubiquitous Apple Car Play/Android Auto. There is a whole bunch of safety and comfort related technology that raise this ute to a level of awesomeness once only available in an S Class Merc.

The LTZ had a natty soft coMY17 Colorado_HeadRest_Z71ver for the tray that locks at the back. It allows you to unlock and open the tailgate without having to go through an elaborate ritual involving clips or elasticized toggles.

While on the subject of accessories, genuine accessories have been developed locally and look pretty good. The “Chevy Colorado Extreme” show vehicle showcased talents of the Australian design team. What looks like a matte orange wrap is in fact a $20,000 paint job. This vehicle was on display at our SE QLD event, complete with large, friendly, “DO NOT TOUCH “ signs peppered all over the place.

Among other bright ideas, the show car’s tubular side steps, rear “sports bar”, and integrated nudge bar have been developed for sale as genuine parts. It makes even the base model look delicious.

It’s worth mentioning that genuine accessories have been tested by Holden. What it means is the 5 star safety rating is not impaired by sidesteps, nudge bars and sports bars. If you have an incident, the airbags will deploy properly, something I had never previously considered. After market accessories may not have the same scrutiny, and you won’t find out things have gone badly wrong until it is too late. The moral of the story is: You Get What You Pay For.

Conclusion:

The first thing to say is that Holden are trying to convince us to call their pick-up, a truck. It’s some Yankee idea I shouldn’t wonder. I’m not convinced. The word “truck” would certainly turn me off buying one. No, I’ll stick with sports utility, UTE, or SUV thanks very much. Truck will never catch on, will it?

With the closure of Australian manufacturing, GM will have the chance to import more of its international range. Holden will be launching a total of 20 new models by 2020, which once sounded like a long time away but is now just around the corner.

There is a stunning range of accessories, and a cabin that feels modern and surprisingly comfortable. I like the way it drives on the road, which is where most of us will use it. It feels more sure footed than HiLux, more comfortable than Ranger. The Z71 is the range topper and looks fantastic replete with body coloured kit and inbuilt Tourneau cover. The cover a lot easier to use than Ranger’s roller-door affair which has a nasty habit of catching unsuspecting fingers. If $57,190 plus on-roads sounds steep, compare it to the 60 grand the current favourite, Ranger Wildtrack, will cost and you.

You’ll remember I bubbled on about the Wildtrack for ages. It looked like sex on wheels and made me come over all butch, saying things like “maaaaaaaaate”, and “OI” and “DUDE!”. I still like it of course, but the Z71 would give me a severe “decision headache” as I vacillated to the point of dementia. MY17 Colorado_Interior (2)

You get a lot of car for your money, and with a canopy, is far more versatile than a regular SUV. The poor old Colorado took a bashing on those tracks, and it gave me time to grill the engineer about the longevity of long exposure to these conditions. I tried hard to fault the Colorado considering how luke-warm I was previously. There isn’t anything to dislike, but it is the top model for me.

Would I buy one? Yes, if I was ever to be in the market for a large versatile SUV

*all models include lifetime capped price service

2.8L Duramax Diesel Engine

– Iron cylinder block and aluminium DOHC cylinder head

– 147kW power and 500Nm torque (auto) / 440Nm torque (manual)

Single Cab Chassis LS – 4×2 $29,490

Single Cab Chassis LS – 4×4 $37,490

Space Cab Chassis LS – 4×4 $40,990

Space Cab Pickup LTZ – 4×4 $48,990

Crew Cab Chassis LS – 4×2 $34,490

Crew Cab Chassis LS – 4×4 $43,490

Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×2 LS $35,990

Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×2 LT $38,990

Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×2 LTZ $42,490

Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×4 LS $44,990

Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×4 LT $46,990

Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×4 LTZ $50,490

Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×4 Z71 $54,990

Holden’s Captiva shows her age, but still does the job at a reasonable price.

MY16 Captiva gaycarboys (2)

MY16 Captiva gaycarboys (4)MY16 Captiva gaycarboys (1)

MY16 Captiva gaycarboys (3)

It’s been a long time since I was last in a Captiva, and no a lot had changed. The top model is on sale for $37,990 which is a full $1,000 cheaper than the model under it. That makes the LTZ excellent value. Here are the current SALE prices:

Current Drive-away sale prices:- LS man $25,990 auto $28,990/LT auto $38,913/ LTZ auto $37,990. The LTZ current offer also includes free diesel should you want it.

The top Captiva gets the rather dull 190kw/288Nm 3.0 V6from the base Commodore. The engine is made in Port Melbourne but does compensate for the lackluster performance.

7 seats are provided for those moments when freeloaders want a lift between watering holes. The spacious cabin is fairly well equipped, and has heated seats and vanity mirrors with lights, but it is the driver aids and audio system that make Captiva feel a little more 21st century. The rear camera adds cross traffic alert. Picture this: you’re reversing out of a Coles carpark, and your distracted by your hunny complaining you’ve forgotten the dishwasher powder (talk about 1st world problems!). A loud beep sounds and visual warning flashes in large friendly red letters to tell you and a P plater is bearing down on you at warp 10. We have all been completely blind when backing out of a tight space, and cross traffic alert gives you the eyes in the back of your head that you’ve always wanted. I see this as a safety issue and should be on every car.

Also standard on the LTZ is Blind Spot Monitoring, annoying at first but quickly becomes a valued friend, and the new My-Link system which includes Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Your humble smart phone then functions through the infotainment centre and becomes the brains of your car. You’ll be able to send a text, navigate and play music all while keeping your hands on the wheel. These, and other functions, use SIRI to perform Apple and Android functions. Of course SIRI needs network connection to function so drives down the coast highway will have black spots in function. You must be connected via Bluetooth so while you’re driving you’ll also be getting a top-up charge.

The layout of the cabin remains as it has for many many years. Remember Captiva first appeared 10 years ago so is getting a bit long in the tooth. Holden’s Sean Poppitt says watch this space for replacements in 12 -24 months.Captiva is 10 years old, and I remember well the auto industry’s reaction to SAAB having a 12-year-old 9-3 in its portfolio, and it wasn’t pretty.

The Holden does nothing wrong and is excellent value, but it just isn’t inspiring. The 3.0L V6 feels under powered just as it does in the Commodore, and isn’t terribly economical. The claimed 10L/100k is very much shy of the 17L/100k we got. Our test was shorter than usual but it is still an indicator of how far out manufacturer claims can be. The ADR that governs economy testing is not terribly, real world and because all auto makers follows the same rules, all fuel usage claims err on the side of the manufacturer. There is currently a push by some to make there figures “real world”. This should give the buyers a better idea of the costs of ownership.

The 6 speed auto is beautifully smooth but occasionally gets stuck in the wrong gear. The aging engine might see better fuel consumption with a more flexible 8 speed unit.

The drive is a decent experience. The LTZ has AWD and most of the time the average drive is unaware of the cleverness taking place under the bonnet. The ground clearance of 200mm is reasonably generous but will rarely if ever be called into use. Most SUV owners only leave the tarmac for a gravel drive. Although the is descent control akin to serious off-roading aspirations, most AWD SUVs are not capable of tackling the same terrain that pucker 4WDs can. Take a soft roader further than the end of the lane and you’ll be all sorts of bother. Being knee deep in schmutz is not fun in a new pair of loafers.

If all you need is a cheap, roomy high-set vehicle, then this is the one for you. If you need a proper 4WD with high/low range and locking diffs, a Colorado might suit you better.

The problem is Holden’s fleet has very few SUVs in it. Like it or not, the world is moving to a time when normal passenger vehicles will be vastly outnumbered by SUVs (sports utility vehicle) like Captiva, and LCVs (light commercial vehicle) like Colorado. Over the next little while Holden will move to importing all vehicles.

Holden is the Australian arm of General Motors, and the General has plants all over the world. They’re moving to having the same vehicles available worldwide. There might well be a case supporting speculation the Camaro might find its way here in light of the runaway success of the Mustang, who knows.

Holden is in the throes of renewal after shaking off the shackles of the fund-stripping GFC. The auto industry is slow to move on new model development when money is scarce. Holden tells me there are a lot of new models coming. Insignia, Captiva, and Astra are due for replacement. Commodore is being axed, and Cruze will either be dropped or imported from Asia.

We live in interesting times.

Would I buy one? It is certainly a great price, but no, this is not the car for me.

Understated Insignia deserves to be seen and heard

Insignia VXR performance sedan GAYCARBOYS (3)

 

Insignia VXR performance sedan GAYCARBOYS (1)Insignia VXR performance sedan GAYCARBOYS (2)

Insignia VXR performance sedan GAYCARBOYS (4)Insignia VXR performance sedan GAYCARBOYS (5)

Insignia VXR performance sedan GAYCARBOYS (6)

 

Insignia, late of Opel fame, now a Holden

You may all remember the delectable Insignia from her brief 12-month stint as part of the ill-fated Opel nameplate. The classy Euro brand is GM’s continental presence, like Holden GM’s presence in Australia. Both Holden and Opel are GM owned companies. I stress this after reading some viewer comments on reviews over the years. Our commenters appear confused as to who makes what, and what that means to Australia, so let’s dispel a few loony ferfies. All 3 Australian car makers are foreign owned. Ford and Toyota always have been, and Holden was bought by General Motors in the 30’s so enough of this sentimental nonsense. It is incredibly sad that Australia will import all cars by the end of next year, but we have been importing all but a few models for decades. That’s not a reason not to buy. Most Australian manufacturing has been lost to countries where the minimum wage is cents in our dollar, or where robots do almost all of the work. But enough about that, let’s talk about Insignia.

Holden is currently in 4th place in the sales race with 29,229 units finding homes so far this year. This represents 7.8% of the market.

The Epsilon II platform is an extended version of the Epsilon which started life in 2002. Holden’s dreary Malibu is on the same platform as spirited Insignia, and sold a miserable 98 last month and only 377 this year. That sounds bad enough, but Insignia sold just 31 last month and 117 for the year so far. To put it in perspective, Toyota’s 4cyl Camry sold 1,511 and was 1st in that segment. I can only put this down to a lack of advertising support for Insignia, because a test drive would sell the VXR on looks alone. It is streets ahead of Camry in every way measureable.

The exterior is drop-dead gorgeous. It has the same edgy elegance as the last SAAB 9-5, which was also built on the Epsilon II platform.

Insignia was sold previously as an Opel Insignia from 2012, but in 2013 Opel withdrew from the market. After 2 years GM reintroduced Insignia under Australia’s Holden brand, something they should have done in the first instance.

This model is nearing the end of its life and us due for replacement any tick of the clock. On a recent trip to Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground, we were told that the good stuff had been hidden away. Perhaps the new Insignia was tucked snuggly inside a shed? The new Insignia is rumoured to be the replacement for the Commodore after local manufacturing shuts down next year. No one knows whether or not the Commodore name plate will continue, but it has been used for 40 years after replacing the much-loved Kingswood in the late 70’s. If all this is true, one wonders why Holden would bring in Insignia so close to being the new Commodore. The smaller sister, Astra, is also at the end of its model life so watch this space.

The interior is delicious despite its age. It feels crisp, yet modern and high-end. Only the sporty VXR model is sold here so there are a couple of sexy Recaro seats up front. The driver has 2 memory slots for the power adjustments as well as a manually extendable front bolster. This gives longer legged drivers additional support and makes all the difference to a longer trip. It feels rather like the seat in business class, so the only thing missing is a glass of champers.

You get Blind Spot Alert, Lane Departure Warning and a Following Distance Indicator with Autonomous Emergency Braking, as well as a fistful of other useful gizmos. The car looks along the road in front and warns the driver of obstacles like cars and trucks. If the driver does nothing, Insignia will through out on the anchors. It may not always avoid a crash, but it should make the incident a bit less lethal. The warning bings, bongs and flashing lights are a distraction at first, but after a week or two you find yourself depending on them. These, and other driver aids, are never meant to replace vigilance in the front seats.

The buttons on the dash feel a bit random in their layout. I personally loathe touch controls that aren’t on an LCD, so the temperature controls are frustrating beyond belief. There is no feedback and they aren’t as sensitive as they could be. Many functions are in the infotainment menu system, but despite the number of buttons still on the dash, there are no direct selects for the radio stations. You can access them via the steering wheel buttons but auxiliary controls are now so complex it is easier to use the original knobs and buttons.

One thing that defies explanation is the easy access driver’s seat. It slides back to let you get out of the car easily, great, it’s brilliant. However, the second you open the door to get in, it slides forward to the preprogrammed spot. Why couldn’t it wait a minute for you to get your bum between it and the steering wheel? That is what it’s for after all.

The drive is brilliant.

The AWD system, along with a bunch of electronics, pushes power from one end to the other, applies brakes, and tweaks engine power all to keep the occupants safe. This is Holden’s first AWD sedan, if you don’t count the 12-month stint as an Opel.

The ride is sensational considering the huge 20” wheels, but it tends to being a bit soft under heavy corning. There is an adjustable ride/steering/performance setting, but even under the VXR setting, it feels more sophisticated saloon than rampant race car. Despite a little body roll, the handling is agile and stays glued to the road.

The 2.8L turbo V6 petrol engine is built in Australia so one assumes we won’t have that after next year either. It puts out a decent 239kw/435Nm to the road through an excellent 6 speed auto via the intelligent AWD system with limited slip differential. There are and Brembo brakes, and the very strangely named HiPerStrut front end designed to give the driver increased control. Although this Insignia was released in 2008 overseas, it has been updated to keep it current.

When reversing, there is a camera to stop you from mowing down errant children, and cross traffic alert to warn you when a tradie’s ute is barreling down on you at warp 5 in the Bunnings carpark.

Sinking the boot in elicits a silky Michael Bublé tone overlaying the urgency of a rocket launch. It’s not neck snapping by any means, but it is definitely quick.

Conclusion:

I like Insignia very much. It has the look and feel of a quality European brand. It handles well and sounds divine. All the mod cons are present and accounted for. Even though a new model will be along any time, it represents good buying. Features like adaptive cruise control and automatic high beam would make road trips a worry-free experience. In traffic the Cruise control will bring the vehicle to a complete stop where others will cut out under 35kph.

It’s a shame the sales don’t reflect what an excellent vehicle this is.

Would I buy one? Yes, despite the steep drive-away price of $57,083

Price drive-away: $57.083

Engine: 2.8 turbo V6 petro, 6.3 0-100, 10.9L/100km

Insignia VXR’s impressive list of safety features includes:

 Auto headlamps

 Daytime running lamps (front and rear)

 Rear Cross Traffic, Side Blind Zone and Forward Collision Alert

 Lane departure warning

 Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

 Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

 Traction Control System (TCS)

 Hydraulic Brake Fade Assist

 Cornering Brake Control

 Hill start assist

 6 airbags (dual front, side and curtain)

 Break away brake pedal

 ISOFIX in three rear seating positions (max. two simultaneous)

 Front and rear parking sensors

 Tyre pressure monitoring system

 Driver set Speed Limiter

 Trailer Sway Control

INFOTAINMENT

Insignia VXR features Holden’s Next Generation MyLink Infotainment system as standard. Features include:

 8-inch colour touch screen

 AM/FM/DAB+ radio with RDS display

 Audio and phone streaming via Bluetooth (compatible devices)

 Voice recognition

 Phone integration

 Phone book support

 Bluetooth audio streaming, USB and auxiliary input jack

 Single CD player with MP3 capability

 Universal hands free with Bluetooth

Holden’s SV6 Commodore Wagon: an SUV alternative.

 

Commodore VF II gaycarboys (2)

Commodore VF II gaycarboys (3)Commodore VF II gaycarboys (1)

Since the government killed off local manufacturing, Holden and Ford have made their final local models sparkle.

Commodore comes loaded with techy gear even in the second bottom model. In wagon guise, the SV6 is handsome, spacious and a great drive.

The aging Australian-built 3.6 Alloytech 210kw V6 also powers other GM models such as Cadillac XTS, Chevy’s Colorado and Impala, and the GMC terrain, as well as a host of previous models. A turbo 2.8 version powers Holden’s Insignia VXR and the last and best SAAB 9-5 Aero. A new Insignia will probably be the new Commodore post 2017. A recent trip to Lang Lang, Holden’s super-dooper-secret-squirrel test facility proved the new models were under evaluation. They secreted all the good stuff and taped up our cameras and phones. They also even canned photos taken just outside the fence in a fit of paranoia. So make of that what you will.

The 6 speed auto feels a cog or two short of expectation and although very smooth, can feel a bit slushy around town. The V8 models have a newer 6 speed auto.

Fuel savings came from the Zeta platform being given a once over. The VF body shell and electrics were made lighter, so it meant such goodies as the auto parking and sensors could be added cheaply. The prices had a dramatic fall from the VE model too. The VFII had a few minor updates including Apple Carplay in the MyLink 2 entertainment system.

The SV6 gets: colour head-up display, auto parking, parking sensors, reversing camera with cross traffic alert, Satnav, blind spot alert, keyless entry/start, Siri Eyes-free and much more all for $38,990 (sedan) on the current special “End Of Financial Year Offer. That’s a stunning price for a full sized 5 seat V6 saloon with a 6 speed auto. Satnav alone was once a ludicrous $4,500 option on some brands. Even the gorgeously ball-rattling SSV-Redline with 302 kw is a mere $62,018 (sedan). There is little point in going into pricing too much because of the huge savings and special offers. The SV6 Wagon costs $45,413 which is quite a bit more than the sedan, so buy the sedan if you can’t find the extra bucks.

Cosmetic changes to the grille and a sexy LED makeover for the tail lights look even more scrumptious.

The sporty types, for whom only rear wheel drives will do, will want to place an order prior to next year. If the new Commodore is the Next Insignia, you’ll find only Front wheel drive on all models except for the VXR which is AWD.

Driving the wagon is an easy low-stress experience. The big lazy V6 just does its own thing while getting about 15/L100k in town. Don’t believe any of that tosh about 9.L/100k because if you only go to the shops and back, the 9L/100k is just a dream. The only drawback is that fact that your prized chariot sounds a little like a taxi.

This is probably the best Commodore range since the nameplate began in 1978. It is certainly the most technically advanced. The exterior is classy but very conservative. The interior is elegant with a top draw feel about it.

The wagon has a soft close tailgate. Just gently push it down and a little motor does the last few millimeters so you don’t need to slam it, ever.

The drive is as elegant as ever. You could comfortably do a road trip of several thousand k’s without batting an eyelid. While on the highway you’ll get about 7L/100k so your 71 litre tank should theoretically get you to Melbourne from Sydney on a single tank, but I’d be slightly skeptical.

The cargo hold is spacious with 895L seats up, and a ball-room-like 2,000L with the rear seats down.

Somehow the humble “wagon” has fallen out of favour even though Holden glued the word “sports” to the front of it. Buyers have been courted by the lure SUVs who seem to be able to park and drive anywhere they like. Suddenly, 5’2” soccer-moms think that a car double their height is just the ticket and that wearing sunglass the size of dinner planes gives them unfettered permission to park over the lines in shopping centres, triple park on highways as long as it is in a school zone, and to use footpaths as another lane when traffic is bad. An SV6 wagon is much more attractive than most SUVs, and is cheaper to buy and cheaper to run.

Perhaps a decent diesel or torquey turbo 4 could have saved Commodore. Maybe an 8 speed auto would have made it seem more up to date, but either way this is the last update before the rear wheel drive bites the dust. No amount of review-reading replaces the feeling of a test drive. Tell the man at the car shop that you want a decent drive. Tell him you’re ready to buy but that you won’t spend 40 grand based on this 300 metres around the block nonsense. There may even be further savings to be had next month, who knows?

If I can leave you with one thought, it is this: Where else can you get a 4 – 5 seater with a powerful auto V6, that drives like a limo and has Euro-style tech? Where else can you get automated parking and keyless entry/start in a package with seats so comfy, you could drive the Pacific Coast just for the hell of it? I might sound misty, but Commodore has been an old mate for 38 years and saying goodbye is hard. Just as it comes of age, it’s gone, but not quite yet.