Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer car review
- We like...Looks, space
- We don't...Easy-fold seats only fitted to dearest cars
The new Astra estate car offers more load space than the car it replaces. And, although entry models are better kitted out, they’re cheaper. A perfect fit for these cash-strapped times?
Maybe. But there’s more. Not only is it a new British-built car, but a design team at Vauxhall’s Luton HQ fashioned this newcomer, starting with the hatchback as a base.
But where the previous Astra estate was a no-fuss workhorse – squat, square and built to be practical. Vauxhall wanted more than that for its successor. Following the new fashion in load carriers, the new ‘un’s called a ‘Sports Tourer’
And with the name-change comes a whole bunch of new ideas. Near as darned every example of the previous estate when new sold to companies. But Vauxhall’s plan now is to win more private buyers. And to do that, it counted on the designers to add healthy doses of usefulness and style.
Where the old car had a longer cabin and load bay than the hatch the new one’s is identical. Despite this, the load bay’s capacity rises by 30 litres to 500 litres, seats up. Drop the seats and load it to the roof and it’ll take three times that much. How does that measure against key rivals? It can carry as much as a Volkswagen Golf estate and a little less than a Ford Focus.
Go for either of the dearest trim levels, SE or SRi, and there’s a little lever to either side of the tail opening that drops the seat backs automatically. On all, there’s a space beneath the boot floor that’s perfect for hiding a laptop and has a space to store the luggage cover, while there are storage bins to either side.
Inside the cabin’s just as you’d find in the Astra hatch. Stepping straight from the previous car, it’s an even bigger step up in quality and design thinking than you’d expect. It’s now one of the most inventive and good looking interiors for the size and money, although VW’s Golf’s still takes the honours for fit, quality and finish. It’s more spacious, too than the old car and legroom is good all round, although a tunnel dividing the rear footwells throws the rear centre passenger’s knees upwards.
To drive, it’s just like the hatch. And that makes it among the best. There’s enough stiffness as it moves across ground to give a pleasing directness to the steering but it’s also adept at sponging away all but severe road ripples. The cabin’s a quiet place to travel even when the rain’s lashing down as it was throughout our day with the car. Tyre noise and wind rustle is low.
Like the hatch there are four trim levels – ES, Exclusive, SE and Sri – and seven engines, from a 1.3 diesel to a 1.4 petrol turbo that produces 138bhp. The 1.7 110bhp diesel in Exclusive trim is the expected favourite.
Should you buy one? It’s far handsomer than before, nicely built, useful and well equipped. A new Ford Focus is only a few months away and the estate version of that could well set new standards. But until then the Astra’s as good as it gets.
- Engines1.7 CDTi diesel
- 0-60 mph12.2secs
- Insurance groups13E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: