The Herald Sun had a Turbo Astra report, and having driven an ST170 they did a comparo.
With 20kW more power, they gave the nod to the Astra, which had little to no turbo lag, usable power thru the rev range and a well behaved front end, even with traction control off. By comparison, the Focus needed it's neck stranged to get the right amount of power.
However, when it comes to corners, the Focus wins hands down. The Astra's suspension is soft, has more body roll in turns while the Focus is firm and capable to carrying more corner speed.
The Focus six-speed gearbox gets the nod over the Astra's five-speed.
Interior wise, the Astra is stated as being bland, but with more features than the Focus. Both are attributed to having '$19,990 special' radios and heater controls.
It's a handling vs power situation, not unlike the old AU XR8 vs SS Commodore comparos.
What they want is a Focus with an Astra engine and interior. So FPV, your mission is set. Give the Focus the tickling it needs, and bite Astra where it hurts.
They say, despite Holden's marketing effort, that the Turbo Astra is no WRX rival, rather aimed at ST170 and Corolla Sportivo. The ST170 is going to end up at the bottom of the comparos between the three, unless an RS-like FPV version is given the go-ahead, though we know with the turn-around for such a car, we wouldn't see it until the latter parts of 2004 anyway, if ever.
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