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Melbourne show: Holden previews Euro trio

Micro-machines: Barina-based Tigra cabrio will compete with folding metal-roofed micro-convertibles like Daihatsu Copen, Peugeot 206CC and Citroen Pluriel when it goes on sale here this year.

The General confirms Tigra cabrio, Astra SRi Turbo and Astra wagon for Oz in Melbourne

4 Mar 2005

A TRIO of Euro small cars bound for Australian roads was previewed by Holden in Melbourne yesterday, marking a departure from the brand’s concept car craze at recent motor shows.

Confirmed for release here in the second half of 2005 are the Tigra cabrio, three-door Astra SRi Turbo and Astra wagon.

Most significant for driving enthusiasts is three-door hatch version (Holden calls it a coupe) of Opel’s new AH Astra five-door launched here last September.

Based on the three-door Opel GTC concept unveiled at last year’s Paris show, the AH Astra "coupe" will go on sale here in CD, CDX and SRi Turbo guises just a few months after their European release this year.

While a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder will make it the king of the AH Astra range here later this year, Astra SRi Turbo’s 147kW peak doesn’t match the 176kW/320Nm performance of the range-topping Astra OPC (Opel Performance Centre) production model revealed almost concurrently in Geneva.

Still, the Turbo’s return to the Astra range for the first time since last July, when the 147kW TS Astra Turbo hatch and convertible were discontinued, will be welcome - especially if pricing remains close to the previous model’s $36,990 pricetag.

However, that may be difficult given a standard equipment list that will include a six-speed manual transmission, 18-inch wheels, leather trim, a sports bodykit, fog lights, heated front sports seats, stability control, six-CD audio, climate control, trip computer and six airbags.

It’s unclear whether Holden will charge a premium for the other two three-door Astra variants over the current five-door line-up, which comprises the $21,990 CD, $25,490 CDX and $29,990 CDXi (manuals) - as well as the four and five-door TS Astra Classics that will become unavailable this year.

But CD and CDX Astra three-door pricing will be critical, with a new VW Golf, Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series now in showrooms, new Ford Focus and Mercedes-Benz A-Class models due on sale within months and fierce competition from Japanese small car kings like Mazda3, Toyota’s Corolla and Nissan’s soon-to-be-replaced Pulsar.

While the European Astra GTC line-up will also include 66kW/125Nm 1.4, 77kW/150Nm 1.6, 92kW/170Nm 1.8, 125kW/250Nm 2.0 turbo and three diesel engine options, the two lesser Astra three-door variants to be offered here should employ the existing five-door Astras’ 92kW 1.8.

Also due to appear in Holden dealers later this year is the AH Astra wagon which was launched in Europe last year and, like its three and five-door stablemates, is built in Antwerp, Belgium.

Further bolstering Holden’s small car range in a small segment dominated by Toyota’s sub-$30,000 Corolla wagon, Astra wagon will debut in Australia in two 92kW 1.8-litre variants: CD and CDX.

13 center imageThe latter will include 16-inch alloy wheels, ABS, twin front and side airbags, cruise control, trip computer, six-CD audio, air-conditioning, velour trim and power windows.

Finally, Holden has confirmed what GoAuto reported back in December when we drove the Tigra TwinTop in Europe, where it went on sale last year: it will sell the Barina-based two-seater coupe-convertible (badged simply as Tigra cabrio) alongside Astra here this year.

The latest in a line of Tigra models from Europe, the Australian version will feature a 1.8-litre four, 16-inch wheels, ABS, brake assist, power windows, air-conditioning and cruise control.

It will compete with folding metal-roofed micro-convertibles like Daihatsu Copen, Peugeot 206CC and Citroen Pluriel, which span the $30,000-$35,000 range.

"Holden has had a traditional strength in large cars and that strength will continue. But Tigra, Astra SRi Turbo coupe and Astra wagon represent the start of a new age in Holden’s small car line-up," said Holden chairman and managing director Denny Mooney.

"These cars will significantly boost Holden’s small car arsenal. They represent style, great value and performance, and will attract new buyers to the Holden brand," Mr Mooney said.

"We are determined to build and expand Holden’s small car range by taking the best of the best from General Motors and bringing it to market right here in Australia." Holden also used the Melbourne show to re-exhibit the Torana TT36 concept it revealed in Sydney last October, alongside its 2005 VZ-spec HRT V8 Supercar and the all-wheel drive VZ Adventra V6, One Tonner Cross 6 and Crewman Cross 6 models due on sale in April and launched in Brisbane in February.

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