Voted Europe's best, but will the new Holden Astra win here?
COME on Holden fans - quit blubbing into your commemorative V8 Commodore mugs and get ready to embrace a brave new world.
Local manufacturing may be coming to an end next year, but surely you're starting to come around to the influx of foreign-sourced gems? The Astra badge may not set your heart a-thumping, but by all accounts the all-new model, which goes on sale here late this year, looks set to be a bloody good offering.
Well, according to our esteemed automotive journalist colleagues in Europe it is, anyway. A 58-strong jury of motoring journos from 22 European countries placed the Opel/Vauxhall Astra first in the European Car of The Year 2016 awards, ahead of Volvo's new XC90 SUV and Mazda's MX-5 (this newspaper's and Wheels magazine's car of the year for 2016).
It's a strong PR win for Holden ahead of the new Astra's arrival here, where it will sport a Holden badge, not least because it beat 40 new cars, from sporty roadsters to premium limousines and SUVs, to take out the coveted award.
Holden executive director of sales Peter Keley said Astra would redefine Holden in the small car segment.
"We already knew that Astra was a world-beating vehicle, and this latest prestigious award cements those credentials," he said.
"Astra is a critical part of Holden's plan to launch 24 new models by the end of 2020 as we refresh or replace every model in the Holden vehicle portfolio."
For the sake of journalistic balance, it's impossible not to look back through the years and evaluate, with the benefit of hindsight, some of the previous European Car of the Year victors as voted for by the motoring press.
Recent years' results all look a bit boring and predictable, the gongs going to electric cars and lots of Volkswagens. There's a joke in there somewhere about zero emissions versus cheat emissions, but I'll leave it.
Fiat managed to bag three wins in six years between 1967 and 1972 for the 124, 128 and 127 models - new car rust obviously glossed over by the motoring press of the day.
Rather comically, the Simca 1307/Chrysler Alpine (another rusty treat) beat the BMW 3 Series in 1976 - no prizes for guessing which model has proved the most enduring. Then in 1990, Citroen's XM somehow scored almost double the points of the runner-up (Merc's SL), despite being underdeveloped at launch, leading to reliability problems, and being, well, bloody ugly.
But this shouldn't take anything away from the incoming prize-winning Astra soon to be sporting a Holden badge. Despite small car sales dwindling here, The Euro Astra seems like one to look forward to.
Previous European Car of The Year Winners
2015 Volkswagen Passat
2014 Peugeot 308
2013 Volkswagen Golf
2012 Chevrolet Volt
2011 Nissan Leaf
2010 Volkswagen Polo
2009 Opel Insignia
2008 Fiat 500
2007 Ford S-Max
2006 Renault Clio