Vauxhall Astra Review
Regardless of whoever happens to own them these days, the Astra is an extremely important car for Vauxhall. With competition coming from all sides, most notably VW’s Golf and Ford’s Focus, this 7th generation Astra had to be good.
Astras have a habit of changing dramatically from one generation to the next but the bloodline from 6th to 7th is clear to see. Bucking the trend that sees cars get bigger year upon year, this Astra is actually marginally smaller than the model it replaces. More importantly, it’s 200kg lighter which is a genuinely impressive weight saving.
There’s a range of petrol and diesel engines on offer with power outputs starting at 98 bhp from the 1.4i, with the most powerful engine currently being the 197bhp 1.6i turbo.
Trim levels come in the guise of Design, Tech Line, Energy, SRi, SRi VX-Line and Elite. Prices start at £16,535 for the 1.4i Design and top out at just under £25k for an automatic 1.6CDTi Elite Nav model.
This Astra is equipped with the most economical engine on offer, Vauxhall’s ultra-frugal 1.6 diesel with stop/start technology. It returns a nigh-on unbelievable 85.6mpg and emits just 88g/km CO2; incredible figures for a family hatch that achieves 0-62mph in 10.2s.
Vauxhall are keen to emphasise that the new Astra isn’t only built in Britain (Ellesmere Port), it’s set up for British roads, too. It’s not just the excitement of our twisty country roads that influenced the suspension settings, though. The unfortunate, scarred state of a lot of Blighty’s tarmac was obviously considered as the Astra does a great job of absorbing potholes whilst also quickly responding to steering inputs.
Despite the Astra shrinking somewhere between generation 6 and 7, there’s more room inside for passengers. This is immediately obvious when a fully-grown adult sits in one of the rear seats; head and leg room are very generous. The only trade-off for this extra space seems to be a shorter boot. It has been made deeper, though, to keep capacity competitive at 370 litres.
Another improvement in the new Astra is interior refinement. This is the Tech Line model which sits second from bottom of the range and yet it all feels very grown up inside. There’s an advance in materials and design that represents a real step up for Vauxhall in this segment.
Great infotainment system
Every trim level except Design comes with Vauxhall’s excellent Navi 900 touchscreen infotainment system. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability and is linked to some of the most satisfying speakers we’ve heard, without the Bose/B&W etc price tag.
Whatever other way you spec an Astra, one item that’s absolutely essential is the £405 Onstar option. It provides not only assistance in the event of an accident or breakdown, but also a wifi network within the car that could be a lifesaver on long journeys with children. Or adults for that matter.
What is Onstar?
What’s really clever about the Onstar system, though, is the smartphone app that’s available. After a quick, easy setup process it can tell you exactly where your car is, how much fuel is left in it, what the tyre pressures are and even when the oil will need changing.
Not only this, but you can send sat-nav details from your phone to your car for the next journey and even activate the car’s horn and/or lights with the touch of your phone’s screen. Ever lost your car in a car park or field? I have, and if I’d had this clever app it would have saved me 45 minutes of frustration and embarrassment as I relocated it.
Other manufacturers offer a similar system to Onstar but it’s so polished and well thought out that it puts competitors in the shade.
Should I buy an Astra?
Despite being visually very familiar, this Astra represents a sizeable improvement over the previous model. It’s bigger (yet smaller), more economical, better to drive and more intelligent in every way. The Astra is definitely up there with the best of the family-hatch segment.
By Ben Harrington
Specifications: Vauxhall Astra Tech Line, Engine – 1.6l turbo-diesel, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Transmission – Six-speed manual, Power – 109bhp, Acceleration – 0-62mph – 10.2s, Maximum Speed – 124mph, Maximum Torque – 300Nm, Economy – 85.6mpg combined, Emissions – 88g/km CO2, Price – £19,275 OTR, £20,140 as tested
For full details, go to: www.vauxhall.co.uk