The Vauxhall Astra is one of the UK’s best-selling cars and has been for quite some time. The medium hatchback is available with a variety…
The Vauxhall Astra is one of the UK’s best-selling cars and has been for quite some time. The medium hatchback is available with a variety of engines and trim levels and caters for the needs of many car buyer. If you’ve never driven an Astra before, now might well be the time to change that, because the new Astra is better than it’s ever been before.
Ok, so Vauxhall isn’t a brand that people drool over or press their faces against showroom windows for, but while we don’t think anyone would do that for an Astra, you have to admit that it’s not a bad looking car. Our personal highlight is the fashionable floating C-pillar, which gives the new Astra a very modern look. Perhaps you could say it plays it a little safe styling-wise, but the actual design is well-proportioned and looks especially good in darker colour.
The interior is certainly not as enjoyable to look at; it’s a little bit plain and this is where Vauxhall really has played it safe. However, nobody is going to get offended by the design and the materials used just about pass the test. Seating comfort is a highlight, and plays to the Astra’s strength in comfort which we’ll get onto around about now…
On the road
It’s probably going to be unusual to read a Vauxhall Astra review that kicks off by explaining how much fun the Astra is to drive, but it really is. Not only is it agile and grippy in the corners, it’s also very comfortable and cosseting, and that means it strikes quite a rare balance between what you want for a long journey (the comfort) and what you lust after on a B road (sporty). Okay, it’s no Ford Focus RS, but it’s a great base for a car that isn’t meant to be all that to drive.
It’s aided by powerful and efficient new engines, of which our favourite is the 1.6-litre CDTi Bi-Turbo diesel. It produces 160PS, which is plenty enough for day to day use, and the twin-turbo system aids acceleration, so it feels like you’ve got a lot more power than you really have. It’s also very quiet, which is a good fit for that supple ride quality, and efficient, which is a good fit for your bank account. If you’re the type of buyer who doesn’t cover too many miles, you’ll be happier with a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine. With 150PS it has a good level of power for a medium hatchback like the Astra, and it’ll serve you well if you’re running under 13,000-miles or so a year.
Vauxhall was clever when developing the new Astra and recognised that some buyers might need a little more space than the hatchback offering. The result of this was the ‘Sports Tourer’, Vauxhall’s named for an estate-bodied Astra which comes with 540-litres of boot space instead of 370-litres, which is what you’d get in the hatchback. The jury’s out on whether an estate body suits the Astra, and so looks might be compromised, but you can’t deny it’s a healthy lump of additional room for those who need it – especially families.
Inside, it’s much what you’d expect from a hatchback – or estate – of this size. Four adults are fine, but not ideal for long journeys, and a fifth fully-grown human being won’t really fit in the middle seat. Children will be comfortable in the back though, as being smaller they get that little bit more head and leg room!
We really love the equipment you can get in the new Astra. The touchscreen system now comes in all Astras – it’s just the way the world’s going – and if you want a CD player you’ll have to specify it as an option. That’s mostly because music functions are mostly now done through people’s phones, or other media players which can pair with the car’s own systems. Once you’re used to it, it’s much better, believe us. Of course, being a modern car, you’ll find the usual cruise control, electric windows, Bluetooth and all the fancy safety technology, like stability control systems and air-bags, that one expects from a modern car.
The star of the equipment list is Vauxhall’s ‘OnStar’ concierge system. Odd saying concierge and Vauxhall in the same sentence, isn’t it? It’s true though, Vauxhall has a system (standard on SRi and Elite trims) that can connect you to a real human (remember them?) advisor who can put destinations into your sat-nav and assist you with other queries and issues you might have. The advisors are present every day of the year, at all hours. As part of the package, you also get Wi-Fi for up to seven devices. Wi-Fi, and assistants in a Vauxhall Astra. Isn’t the future brilliant?
Because Vauxhalls aren’t all that fashionable, they can sometimes get a bit of a harsh reputation as cars that aren’t particularly good. Nothing could be further from the truth with the new Astra. It drives well, it’s comfortable, it looks pleasant, and comes with a good array of options and equipment levels. If you’re in the market for a medium sized hatchback this is definitely a car worthy of being on your list of considerations.
- Hatchback Looks
- Engine Options
- Optional Touch Screen Kit
- Plain Interior
- Badge Image
- Estate Looks