We liked the look of the new Opel Astra (right) at the launch at the Aberdeen Marina Club last Saturday of Metro Motors as the new dealer for General Motors China (GMC) marques Opel and Saab. Roomy and comfortable, the silver, left-hand-drive sample has a shiny, chrome grille, looks sleeker than the Volkswagen Golf and could be the best excuse to buy a small car since the BMW Mini Cooper. Metro Motors will sell two versions of the Astra: the two-litre turbo (with a six-speed manual box to match the new Golf Gti) for between $250,000 and $300,000, and the 1.8-litre Cosmo for about $200,000, says spokesman Karman Chan. The car is aimed at 'young executive families', he says, and the first are expected at the end of February. The Astra and the Golf have fought each other hard for sales in Europe, but we don't expect to see too much blood on the canvas in Hong Kong. You see, Metro Motors and Volkswagen rival Harmony Motors are both subsidiaries of Dah Chong Hong (DCH). GMC chief executive Phil Murtagh says he doesn't mind such inter-group rivalry. 'We went in search of a company that was an established part of the local auto industry on both the sales and the service sides,' he says. GMC regards Hong Kong as an important market in its own right and as 'a major influence in mainland China, particularly Guangdong province', Murtagh says. Metro Motors has started well. Its Saab showroom is bright and the staff friendly, and the Opel team seems thrilled with the Astra. They'll need to be. 'It's no secret that our business in Hong Kong has had its ups and downs,' Murtagh says. 'We have been a smaller competitor than we would have liked.' DCH chief executive Clement Hui says Saab has 'a sharp and unique brand image, but customers in Hong Kong have had little opportunity to get to know it'. The result, he says, has been a comparatively low recognition. Look out for more cars. Another DCH unit, Honest Motors, launched the Tiida saloon and sports hatch (right) options at the Nissan Festival at New World Plaza in Tsim Sha Tsui on Saturday. The 1.5-litre Tiida saloon looks to be a cross between a Toyota Corolla and a Renault Megane, with a sporty face, a well-appointed interior and rather dumpy flanks that make its 15-inch wheels look rather small. The Tiida hatchback looks rather ho-hum against the roomier Golf, airier Astra and sharper Mazda3. The luxury model has a four-speed automatic transmission, while the deluxe has a continuously variable transmission. Both options promise a perfectly adequate urban ride. The eight-seat Presage multi-purpose vehicle was also on show. It looks to be built for grannies, with a low, flat floor and a remote-controlled sliding door on either side. There's a deodoriser, a six-speaker, 160-watt radio and CD and an ion generator that's said to keep the cabin fresh when the aircon's on. It's powered by a 2,488cc 16-valve engine and a four-speed automatic box. The headlights, windows and body lines seem Renault-esque and we like its airy interior. A white Datsun 240Z Fairlady stole the event's limelight, however. We used to think they were cheap and nasty, until one left us standing at the lights, but we still admire its lines and invite you to compare its shape with its gold Nissan 350Z successor. New World Plaza's management might improve its signage. Huge posters draw crowds to the mall, but the place is a maze if you haven't visited it for a while. Directions to the Nissan Festival, from all entrances to the venue floor, would have saved time. Also, the mall operators might put a sign next to the old Ford Model A (below) and Chevrolets on their premises, explaining their age, ownership and history. They might also think about putting their bright yellow crowd barriers a couple of metres away from the classics - to prevent them falling onto pristine bodywork, and to let enthusiasts take photos of the displays.