• Good value compared to other cars
    • Spacious cabin and boot
    • Punchy turbo engine
    • Steering lacks feel
    • Ride can be a touch too firm
    • lacks features on the base spec that some might expect

    About the HOLDEN ASTRA

    J B purchased this HOLDEN ASTRA used for $14,990 (including all on-road costs) in 2021. J B wouldn’t buy this car again because: “While I love my car, and compared to competitors on the used market it was definitely good value for what you get. However after having now experienced other cars in the segment, it’s not as polished in some areas that matter to me especially with the driving experience and given Holden no longer exists, I wouldn’t take the gamble a second time.”

    How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

    About a year after I purchased the car from a used car dealer, the water pump for the windscreen washers failed and they were going to charge $480 to replace it because apparently it wasn’t covered under the three-year used car warranty.

    Then about six months after that, I was approaching a roundabout and was just coming to a stop when the engine stalled and shut off.

    It wouldn’t start and so I put it back in park and tried again, and it started fine. Got a mechanic to look at it and he couldn’t find anything wrong with the car and now year and a half since, I haven’t had any issues with it happening again (touch wood). Other than that the car hasn’t had any other issues.

    What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

    I bought my Astra as my first car when I was 16, three and a half years ago. I wanted a compact sedan and was looking at the Mazda 3, Kia Cerato and Hyundai Elantra but given COVID had inflated prices, they were all more than what I wanted to spend with much higher mileage and were older.

    Cue the Astra. It popped up at a local dealer, was only three and a half years old, and was a more modern car than what I had been looking at and because of Holden’s departure was going for a good price for what it was especially with the insane used car prices at the time.

    I always liked the look of the Astra sedan. It was good looking but not offensive in any way, though a base model in rental spec white wouldn’t have been my first choice.

    As it was from a used car section at a new car dealer, the buying experience was all very professional and it came with a three-year used car warranty, which now has finished and the only thing I needed it for it didn’t cover.

    As with most car warranties, they aren’t really worth the paper they’re written on. Given at the time, I was still learning to drive, I was unable to take it for a test drive before I bought it.

    Owning it has been pretty stress free. It does the job and nothing more. I get it serviced regularly with the dealer I purchased it from and they have been pretty good. I know that resale will be an issue and I knew that going into it, but figured if I keep it for a long time, it can only depreciate so much before it starts to become in line with other similar cars.

    Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

    Given, I was looking at older cars, the technology in this is pretty great. It has some nice to have features like auto headlights, a digital speedo and apple car play which is nice and definitely not something I thought I would get with my first car.

    It’s only the entry level LS, so misses out on any of the safety technology and driver aids of other models but to be honest, I’m kind of glad I don’t have them given how intrusive and irritating they can be on modern cars.

    It has a roomy backseat that my friends have commended, though headroom can be limited for tall people like me. The boot is large and perfect for me when I go on camping trips, though as with all sedans is limited height wise for taller items. To sum it up, it has everything I need and nothing I don’t.

    What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

    The performance is fantastic from a basic sedan that you would usually see in a Hertz carpark.

    The little turbo has plenty of punch when overtaking but never has too much power that makes it a handful when driving in the wet.

    More than adequate for my needs as a young driver is how I would put it. I am also pretty happy with the fuel usage that I get with it. I usually average 6.3L/100km in an even mix of highway driving and typical suburban traffic but have seen as low as 5.0L on highway trips.

    I am not much of a lead foot (shocking for a P plater, I know) so would probably be higher for some drivers who are.

    What do you think of the technology in your car?

    The Astra has quite a few handy features but given it’s the entry level, it misses out on most of it. It has a digital speedo which is super handy and Apple CarPlay is also a welcome addition even though I don’t think its allowed on your P’s in NSW.

    The parking sensors and reversing camera have definitely come in handy when parking especially because rear visibility isn’t the best because of its high rear belt line. I do wish it had inbuilt sat-nav like the higher grade models though.

    What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

    The ride is composed and handles our roads pretty well; if a little on the firmer side. I did swap the 16-inch wheels from the car to the 17-inch ones from the higher LT grade, but didn’t notice any difference with the ride quality.

    It handles pretty well especially given I do quite a bit of country road and dirt driving every now and then, however my biggest gripe with the handling would have to be the steering. It’s far too light for my liking and overall lacks the feel of competitors that I have stepped in since my purchase.

    It has a very disconnected feel just off centre before it tightens up a bit, but still not enough to feel as sporty to drive as others. The torque converter transmission is also not the best.

    Prior to driving this car, I had only ever driven cars with a manual transmission because that is what I learnt on and cars with CVTs, so this was my first true automatic experience. It can be slow to shift and is quite lurchy at times, especially going from 1st to 2nd or 2nd to 1st.

    When slowing at a roundabout but not fully coming to a complete stop, it can shift down to 1st and then rev out before finally changing to second where it then jolts you back in the seat when doing so.

    I didn’t notice how unrefined it was until I finally stepped into my sister’s automatic 2016 Mazda 3, and my friend’s 2021 Kia Cerato, which both shift much quicker and smoother. It was driving those and then a rental Corolla while my car was getting fixed after I got rear ended, where I noticed how much better the steering is in all of them compared to mine.

    It also can sometimes be in a gear too high particularly when climbing hills, as I have noticed it likes to pick the highest possible gear to save fuel.

    Do you have any additional comments about your car?

    I said I wouldn’t buy the car again for certain reasons, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great car.

    Especially for those looking for a cheap, good looking, modern first car or cheap runabout that drives pretty well and has the technology and safety one would want.

    It doesn’t do anything exceptionally but also doesn’t do anything terrible either. It’s just a good overall car that would probably suit someone who juts wants a car to get them from A to B with some modern conveniences.