Holden Astra saloon for space and comfort

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The Holden Astra Sedan. Photo: Holden

Despite reasonably high component commonality, US Chevrolet rather than European Opel genes mean the Astra saloon has the familial look, but not quite the same feel as its hatchback cousin.

By the same token, high-quality reworking of the suspension and steering by Holden, mainly on home soil, ensures the saloon we get here is superior to the  all-American version in driving finesse.

That the body shapes in our market format present as being ``together apart'' is considered a win by Holden, which sees entirely different customers queueing for  these products. 

Jeremy Tassone, Holden's group manager of vehicle performance, explains ``we wanted to make sure they were in character with each other. This whole car has been set up to take those strong dynamics Astra [hatch] has been renowned for, but we aimed to take more of a comfort side''.

That's why the hatch's R, RS and RS-V designations don't feature; the first letter of the LS, LT and LTZ nomenclatures stands for ``luxury''. Hence a more compliant ride, slower steering, and more relaxed demeanour.

The depth of difference between sedan and hatch is easily identified. When enthusiasm drives the occasion, you'll have more fun with the hatch.

Beyond pure tuning differences, the sedan's rear beam set-up is less complex than the hatchback's. You also have to wonder if the sedan might affect a more energetic attitude were it given the throttle, braking and gearshift-sharpening ``sport'' function that feature for the hatch.

All the same, Holden has again lived up to its reputation for refining  import product to suit Antipodean road and driving conditions. Lead dynamics engineer Rob  Trubiani and his team have a deft touch, not least in creating a fluidity to the spring-damper response that passengers, in particular, will find most agreeable.

The more you spend, the better the experience. The tyres at LT and LTZ level offer improved grip on soaked surfaces and better compliance than the base rubber, and also contribute more to Holden's effort to quell road-induced roar.

The Korea-sourced booted car works for those who prioritise space and comfort over sexiness and sportiness, but stops short of re-creating the premium-ness so carefully integrated into the hatch: interior trims are not quite as nice, the seats don't feel the same, the steering wheel rim is narrower and harder, and providing the boot with old-style, gooseneck hinges instead of gas struts is a cheapskate Chev consideration.

An intuitive touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, reverse-view camera, rear parking sensors and automatic on/off headlights are standard but the  hatch's safety ace card of autonomous emergency braking is absent.

Holden's faith in having the 1.4-litre turbo engine as a sole choice power plant is well placed.

This is the best four-cylinder that GM builds at the moment.

While peak power doesn't come on until 6500rpm, it isn't an engine that demands to be worked hard, as torque optimises between 2000rpm and 4000rpm, which suits the saloon's slick six-speed auto.

Holden Astra saloon for space and comfort
At a Glance

Price: $30,990, $34,490, $38,490
Engine: 1399cc four-cylinder turbo petrol, maximum power 110kW@ 5000rpm,
maximum torque 240Nm@2400rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front wheel drive
Brakes and stability systems: Front and rear disc brakes, ABS, EBD, TCS
Safety rating: Five-star Australian NCAP
Wheels and tyres: Alloy wheels, 225/45 R17 to 225/40 R18 tyres
Fuel and economy: 6.1 litres per 100km, fuel-tank capacity 52 litres
Emissions: CO2 141 g/km on combined cycle
Dimensions: Length 4665mm, width 1807mm, height 1457mm