Small cars are not supposed to be so smooth, quiet and refined like the Astra is
The famous rear brake squeal started within 10km of picking the car up. The rear brake dampers were fitted at the 1500km service. The fitting of the dampers has made a noticeable improvement to the brake feel of the car. Especially when stopping and starting.
There was also a noise from inside the center of the dash around the stereo. It happened to be a cable rubbing which was fixed also at the 1500km service.
Other than that it has been good.
I am quite impressed with the performance of the automatic. The initial launch of the car when moving off from a standstill is better than any small 4 cyl auto I have driven, even some larger engined cars. It is a very nippy car for around town. It still lacks the acceleration of the Mazda 323 4WD turbo I had before though!!
NVH levels are so low it even puts a lot of larger cars to shame. Holden should take a leaf out of Opel's, namely the Astra, book on NVH for the Commodore.
The seats are firm, but I find them comfortable, especially for longer trips. However I feel they need more lateral support, especially if you enjoy some enthusiastic driving around corners!! The air conditioning takes a long time to get cool (10-20 min on a 30 deg C day), however once cool, you have to turn it down before you freeze. The strange thing is that the dealer said this is normal (it tested OK they they said) during the 1500km service!! The Mazda never took that long to cool the pipes etc.
Ride and handling is very good. It has a touch of BMW in the way it drives. The suspension is relatively firm, however it still manages to soak up bumps and ruts with aplomb. The steering also has a nice feel to it. Cornering prowess is very good, enough to even put some 'sports' cars to shame.
To sum up it is a very nice car that has a very solid feel to it. The car goes much better than a 1.8L automatic with only 90kw should. I can see why it has won the best small/medium car under $25,000 in Australia's Best Cars awards for 3 years running.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 12th November, 2002