2003 Holden Astra Turbo Coupe 2.0 turbo from Australia and New Zealand


Great fun to drive, massive bang for your bucks


One of the headlights had a leaky seal and retained water.

Various rattles from trim - all fixed under warranty.

Traction system failure light kept coming on, took several attempts to correct.

Chrome pedal cover on accelerator pedal fell off.

Coolant mysteriously vanished, required topping up only once so far.

Wheels were rusted to the hubs when the time came for the first wheel align/balance. Cost extra to remove the rust and do a full re-balancing.

General Comments:

Reading the above you might think that I am not happy with this car. Quite the contrary. It is a fantastic looking car and extremely fun to drive. All the initial glitches were corrected under warranty (except the rusted wheels).

The selling dealer gets the thumbs down. They were very rude and condescending, possibly due to the type of vehicle and the fact that I am only 21. Anyway, I didn't take the car back there for the warranty work. Instead I took it to dealership near my house, who were also rude and arrogant. Finally I moved house about 6 months ago and found a really good dealership nearby, who have been very kind and done a thorough job on the car.

The build quality is excellent. The paintwork and interior trim is flawless. The leather seats look really good and have proved to be quite resistant to wear. All the controls are well placed and easy to read. The Euro-black cabin doesn't bother me and it helps to cut down glare on bright days (that's every day in Queensland). The air-conditioning is extremely effective, even without tinted windows.

The car has really tightened up in the last 2000 km or so. The gearbox was quite notchy at first and hard to put into 2nd gear, but that has cleared up. The dealer made no protests about checking the clutch and gearbox oils for me when I asked either, so top marks there.

The engine is the best thing about this car. It is incredibly smooth and quiet at all speeds. The turbo works well, with a distinctive turbo-induced surge of power when you put your foot down. It's so responsive that it actually scared me a little when I first started driving it. During a normal takeoff, you can instantly get a massive surge of power just by flooring the accelerator.

It requires some finesse with the clutch to take off hard from a full stop without smoking the tires. The excellent traction control system will save you if you're a bit too enthusiastic with the throttle on takeoff. The stock tires are Dunlop SP Sport 8000s which retail for about $300 a wheel, so you'll want to make them last.

The handling is superb and the Astra will take almost any corner you can throw at it and leave cars twice the price behind. This does mean that the ride is very firm, and can be a little uncomfortable on second-rate roads.

Overall a fantastic car and great fun to drive. It certainly gets some looks and attention on the road, some positive, and some negative. I'd love to try out one of the Turbo convertibles.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 22nd April, 2005

2003 Holden Astra CD 1.8L from Australia and New Zealand


A cut above the rest in its price category, and above


A poor fitting insert in the boot on the right hand side, where it is cut out to make room for the boot hinge.

General Comments:

I knew this was a good car due to rave reviews from motoring magazines. Only tried one other (2003 Pulsar) but was unimpressed by the harshness of the engine at just 3000RPM.

Test driving the Astra felt like driving a different class of car altogether; quiet, refined, comfortable, well appointed and solid. I didn't bother with any other cars.

I got the CD model in sedan form, adding air conditioning, ABS and traction control (for free). So far I haven't had the traction kick in, even though I managed to get a bit of tyre squeal today around a sweeping bend.

Having owned it almost a week, I'm not disappointed. The only glitch was a poor fitting insert in the boot, which I didn't notice at the dealer.

The engine is smooth and responsive, but drones a little around 2500RPM. However, I'm still running it in, and am looking forward to seeing what this car can do.

Gearshift a little notchy, especially first to second, but is getting easier all the time.

The sound system is good, but haven't noticed much of the speed sensitive volume, which I have on full compensation. (Other people have mentioned it changes between different road surfaces, which is patently rubbish).

Seats are good, but firm. Looking forward to trying them on a long trip.

Overall, I highly rate this car and would recommend it highly.

I'll update this review in the coming weeks.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd September, 2003

12th Apr 2004, 06:04

I agree with this reveiw 100%.

I also own a new Astra 1.8 manual. and find it a great car for city or long trips.

It has a lot of grip when pushed and out preforms most others on the road.

29th May 2004, 23:57

Agree 100% with your review. The engine (or is it exhaust drone???) at 2500 I have come to live with. The 1st - 2nd notchiness is still causing mis-shifts. The dealer told me to keep "left pressure on the stick", works much better. Low beam at 100km/h on country roads a REAL bother. Thinking of fitting small driving lights to assist, only because I can't use highs all the time. Averaging 3000kms per month, fuel great... everything great!.

11th Jan 2005, 22:42

I recently bought an Astra (a couple of months ago) and whilst I'm generally happy, I do have a few minor complaints about the car. The Seats are smallish and very hard. The headlights are woeful. There is virtually no illumination on both sides of the vehicle and the forward illumination is dim and patchy. (Some newly fitted driving lights have since fixed this problem). The wiper and indicator controls being on the opposite side to normal is unbelievably annoying. If you put a soft drink can in the door cup holder you can't open the window (normally) without hitting your hand on the top of the can. Some of the less useful standard features could have been substituted for other more conventional features. I'd gladly substitute the headlight tilt adjustment, Tail-light brightness switch, Ice traction switch for a set of electric mirrors and decent head lights.

25th Feb 2011, 04:27

The 03 City Astra is terrible, an absolute lemon! I've had issues ranging from speedo sensor not working, transmission controls not communicating properly, which put the car in permanent limp home mode. Would be a great car if they had sorted out their technical issues! Otherwise, nice and easy car to drive, and the ability to see in front, to the side and rearwards is excellent, no black spots! I would not recommend to anyone though, purely for the fact that you don't know if you're onto a winner or a lemon... it really is a 50/50 chance!