Astra sedan coming in May

Another sharp-looking Astra will be here soon – but not sharper prices.

ONE Australian initiative with the impending Astra – adding a sedan version – will be adopted by Holden New Zealand but the other, a big price slash affecting the hatchback edition, won’t be considered.

Marnie Samphier, the Auckland-domiciled operation’s general manager of marketing, has confirmed the Astra sedan will come on sale in May, about two months after the five-door establishes here.

There is no word, yet, on the specification spread and how it will price. Samphier says that exercise is still being undertaken.

“We haven’t confirmed pricing on that … we want to get the hatch launch done and dusted first. Then we will turn our efforts to the sedan.”

On the subject of money, she says Holden New Zealand has felt no need to consider aping a surprise Holden Australia implementation for Astra – a price cut.

As much as $A1700 has come off the recommended retails across the water, apparently in hope that this will lift slower-than-expected sales for the hatch, which our neighbour has been driving since November. Industry pundits say a car that was expected to achieve 2500 sales per month in Australia has failed to fire – in December, for instance, it took just 155 registrations.

Too expensive? Perhaps so in Australia, but not here, Samphier says. New Zealand RRPs span from $30,990, which buys a base 1.4 R edition, to $38,490 (for the flagship RS-V, which can be bumped up another $1990 with an optional touring pack).

On exchange rate evaluation those stickers are higher than the original Australia market stickers and the gap will now obviously widen even more.

Even the New Zealand dollar is close to parity with Australia’s, Holden argues that the NZ market prices reflect extra costs – mainly shipping, but also to do with market size – have an unavoidable influence.

Samphier said the pricing question was given consideration on January 12 but there was thought to change.

“We are very pleased with where we have got the pricing. The feedback that we have had from dealers and the likes of the motoring media is that we have got it spot on.

“We’re fairly confident where the pricing sits.

“We reviewed the pricing and we still feel that we have got it right.”

She said the Australian determination was a surprise but it was what it was.

“We chose to delay our launch until the new year to give it the best chance to hit the market hard early in the year. We feel we have got our strategy right and we can’t wait to get the car out there now.”

Astra hatch arrives in manual form first in mid-February with automatics, all with the 1.6 engine, coming in mid March.

Most of the price reduction in Australia is focused on the automatic transmission-equipped versions of the Astra, though there will be some reduction of specification on entry level models including the removal of side skirts.