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Vauxhall Astra Review

Find out more about the Vauxhall Astra in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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7
Out of 10
Average Price £8,897
History

The Vauxhall Astra first appeared on UK roads in 1979, based on the popular Opel Kadett. When arrived, the Astra was available in just three body styles, coming as a hatchback, saloon and estate. Production began in Germany, though it quickly moved to Ellesmere Port it UK.

Six generations have followed, bringing with them more customisation options, as well as new variants and cleaner, more efficient engines. It’s maintained its popularity, thanks to competitive list prices and decent amounts of standard equipment.

Fast forward to the present day, and the Astra has evolved into sculpted and modern family car. Able to offer features usually found in more premium rivals, it’s a top-notch car for a sub-£20,000 price. It’s easy to understand just why it’s so popular. You may even remember that it was used as Top Gear’s ‘Reasonably Priced Car’ at one point.

Latest model

The latest model was first introduced in 2015, making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. How did it build on the previous-generation? It now offered better safety features, as well as higher levels of technology including on board wifi – though this isn’t available as standard on all models.

The new Astra was also accompanied by a range of efficient engines, going from a 1.4-litre petrol right the way up to a 1.6-litre diesel – with many different combinations in between.

Overall, the Astra is on average 200kg lighter than the car it replaces, allowing it to offer better levels of efficiency and economy.  There’s even a 1.6-litre, 200bhp engine petrol engine on offer for those who want a little more performance to hand.

The range was expanded in January 2017, with Elite models now available with the smallest, entry-level petrol engine, while SRI VX-Line and SRI VX-Line Nav trims now coming alongside the two most powerful petrol and diesel powerplants. It’s a little update that keeps the Astra range in line with rivals, and one which allows further customisation for consumers.

The Astra has always suffered somewhat with depreciation, owing to its substantial production numbers bringing down demand – especially in the used market. However, with the new model featuring better technology and build quality, there’s a chance that this could bring these residuals up.

Value for money

With the current-generation Vauxhall Astra, there’s a high amount of standard equipment. Given that it’s just been updated, you’re going to get the latest model should you walk into a dealership with the aim of walking back out with a set of keys in your hand.

Even base cars now receive alloy wheels and a seven-inch colour touch screen, as well as automatic lighting and cruise control. This means that even for the entry price of £16,375, you’re getting a lot of car for the money.

However, previous-generation cars feature almost as much equipment, with even 2010 model year Astras featuring luxuries like air conditioning, cruise control and steering – and for a very competitive price. Good examples of these, with relatively low miles, can be had for under £7,000, which isn’t bad at all considering the amount of equipment they offer.

Go further back than that, and you’ll find a lot of car for a rather small amount of money. Those cars built in 2005 – and whose looks remain relatively modern today – can be purchased for under £3,000, with even sporty SRi models falling into this category.

These cars get a sports bodykit, as well as higher levels of equipment than those found on other specifications.

Interestingly, classic, first-generation cars are becoming quite strong in the used car market and are starting to become something of a ‘classic’ purchase. You’ll do well to find an unmolested example for under £2,500.

Looks and image

The new Astra was unveiled in 2015, so as yet there haven’t been any redesigns or updates. That means that it’s unlikely to change for a few years yet, so there’s little chance that your just-purchased car will go out of date soon after you take delivery.

It remains a rather good looking car, with sleek lines that seem to take inspiration from the previous-generation Astra GTC coupe. It’s a modern design that is certainly in-keeping with the rest of the Vauxhall range. The Astra is available in Sports Tourer layout, which gives an option to those drivers who want a little bit more space and practicality with their family car.

That previously mentioned GTC Coupe remains a pretty car, and it was available in hot-hatch VXR spec, too.

Though it was firm and uncompromising, it was certainly fast – a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine produced 280bhp, which allowed it to reach 60mph in just under six seconds. Because of this performance, used examples are holding their values well and, because there is no VXR version of the current Astra, they’re in demand too.

New-shape cars are available on the used car market, and are competitively priced too. That means that if you’re not in a position to buy a brand-new car, you can get one that has a few miles on the clock for a lower price instead.

Space and practicality

The Astra has to offer excellent levels of practicality, and thankfully it does just that. It’s able to offer 370 litres of boot space, though this can be increased to 1,210 litres with the rear seats folded flat. It’s certainly more than the Ford Focus’ 316 litres of space, though still lags behind the segment-favourite Volkswagen Golf’s, which sits at an impressive 380 litres.

However, if it’s out-and-out space that you’re looking for, then the Sports Tourer is a far more appealing option. It has a significantly larger boot than the hatch at 540 litres, while this can be raised to 1,630 litres with those rear seats folded flat. It’s certainly a usable load area, and one which will suit families who’ve got a lot to transport around.

Though smaller than the car it replaces, the new Astra is actually able to afford its occupants an impressive amount of space. There’s good levels of knee and headroom – even with three people in the back. If you’re looking for a comfortable and spacious and car, then the Astra isn’t a bad choice – and older model offer similar positives.

Engines

There’s an efficient range of engines to choose from when it comes to the Astra. The base engine in the range is a 1.4-litre petrol, which brings with it a combined consumption figure of 52.3mpg and emissions of 124g/km.

Up next is a turbocharged version of that same engine, though producing either 123bhp or 147bhp. Even in its most powerful state of tune, it’ll return around 51mpg combined, and emit 128g/km CO2 while taking just 7.8 seconds to reach 60mph.

A three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol generating 103bhp comes next, which has already seen use in the Adam and Corsa cars. It’s a very efficient engine, returning 62.8mpg on a combined cycle and emitting just 104g/km CO2.

As far as diesel engines are concerned, there’ just one – a 1.6-litre turbo. However, it’s available in three states of tune, coming with 108bhp, 134bhp and 157, with the last of the three generating its power thanks to two turbochargers. The lowest-powered version is the one to go for if you’re looking for out-and-out efficiency, as it’s able to return a claimed 85.6mpg while emitting just 88g/km CO2.

Running costs

Thanks to those efficient engines, fuel economy is pretty respectable across the board. You’ll also find the cost of replacing consumables such as tyres and brakes pretty reasonable, while servicing costs at main dealers won’t cost the earth.

The same can be said for older models, too. Because Vauxhall cars are produced in such high numbers, there’s a ready supply of parts. This also means that should you have a car park prang, it won’t be too expensive to remedy.

Things to look out for

The Vauxhall Astra has experienced recalls for rudimentary problems such as windscreen wiper issues and the ‘remote possibility of brake fluid contamination’. These were relevant to cars from the early to late ‘90s, so ensure that if you’re looking at a car of this age that this work has been carried out.

However, the biggest issue with the Astra came with the risk of fire. It was addressed in a recall issued in early 2015, as it was found that should the car’s radiator fan become blocked, it could cause a short circuit which could lead to a fire. This went on from 2015 to March 2016 – so make sure that any car you’re thinking of buying has had this rather serious issue addressed.

Rivals

It’s a hugely competitive market that the Astra sits in, and as such it’s got some hefty competition. You’ve got the ever-accomplished Ford Focus, which offers acres of space as well as one of the best driving experiences you’ll find in this area.

You’ve also got the Skoda Octavia, which incorporates the Czech firm’s legendary build quality in a car that has the space and practicality of a hatchback with the refinement and driving style more commonly found in a saloon.

Lastly is the Volkswagen Golf. Though it expensive, it does afford its drivers a slightly more premium driving experience to others here, while its build quality remains best in class. Despite it costing more to purchase than its rivals, it does hold up better in terms of depreciation.

Depreciation warning

As we’ve mentioned earlier, because of the high volume that Astras are made in, they don’t have the level of demand that may afflict other cars. As such, they have a tendency to do quite poorly where depreciation is concerned. However, special edition cars, like those with sport specifications and VXR models hold up well, and are popular among enthusiast drivers. If you’re looking to combat depreciation, it’s best going for a well-specced car, or a model in one of these aforementioned special editions.

Which Astra to Pick

Trims Explained

Thankfully, whereas other cars in the Vauxhall lineup have a vast amount of trims and specifications accompanying them, the Astra’s range is pleasingly simple.

Design

At the base of the range sits Design. This comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome-effect window trim and a rear spoiler, which help give the exterior a distinctly premium air. Inside, you get comfort front seats as well as a seven-inch colour touchscreen which houses Bluetooth phone connectivity and DAB digital radio.

LED daytime running lights help lift the exterior further and, despite it providing all of this equipment, comes in at a reasonable £16,375.

Tech Line

This builds on the Design’s already comprehensive equipment list with a leather covered steering wheel, six premium speakers and a larger eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display. It also includes full European satellite navigation, which is ideal if you’re looking to take the car abroad.

It’s priced from £17,075.

Energy

This adds 17-inch alloy wheels which help give the Astra a distinctly sportier exterior. Inside, the Energy also benefits from a heated leather steering wheel, as well as heated front seats.

This edition is perfect for those want a little more luxury with their Astra, and it is priced from £18,375.

SRi

This offers a huge amount of standard equipment, ranging from 17-inch twinspoke alloy wheels and sports-style front seats to rain sensitive wipers and automatic lighting with tunnel detection. Driving Assistance is also fitted as standard, which incorporates a forward camera system which makes parking the car a little bit easier. You’ll still find a seven-inch touchscreen system fitted as standard, as well as all of the other features found on the other models in the range.

Despite being fitted with just about everything you could want, the SRi comes in at a respectable £18,795.

Elite

This car does cost £19,695, but comes with 17-inch multispoke alloy wheels, leather seat upholstery, heated front and rear seats and six premium speakers. You also get electronically folding side mirrors, and electric parking brake and the aforementioned European satellite navigation.

Motors Choice

1.4i 16V Energy 5dr Special Eds

What to look out for

  1. Range of efficient engines means there’s a powerplant for everyone
  2. Fire recall is an important one to check with certain models
  3. Concise range of specifications means it’s easy to choose one that’s right for you
  4. European satellite navigation is only included on certain specifications
  5. Used cars suffer somewhat with depreciation
  6. Sports and VXR cars hold their price better in used car market
  7. Low running costs mean cars shouldn’t cost the earth to keep running
  8. Older cars represent excellent value for money
  9. Not as much storage space as rivals, but still plenty enough for families
  10. Diesel engine is the best choice in terms of efficiency

Review Rating

"Following on from the 2015 launch of its hatchback sibling, the spacious Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer is the estate car member of the family.... Read More"