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Vauxhall Astra Review 2019

The Astra is one of Britain’s most popular hatchbacks, and offers lots of standard kit and great value for money

£8,726
Average Price
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4
Out of 5

Pros

  • Stylish looks
  • Affordable pricing
  • Good to drive

Cons

  • Lacks badge appeal
  • Interior starting to show its age
  • Could come with more standard safety kit
  • MPG

    54 - 64

  • CO2

    91 - 115 g/km

Model Review

Few cars have been as popular in the UK over the years as the humble Astra. The British-built Astra has been ferrying around families since it first went on sale in 1979.

Built in Ellesmere Port, Merseyside, the Astra has been a roaring success for the firm. Performance Astras have been popular throughout the car’s lifetime, with the first of these going on sale in 1983. Sporty Vauxhalls have been given names such as GTE, GSI and VXR over the years, although it’s only the latest shape of Astra that a hot version has been absent from.

There has also been Astra vans, coupes, convertibles and estates — the latter being the most important as it’s the only other variant offered alongside the five-door hatchback in the current Astra.

Throughout the model’s life, it has remained one of the best options in its class, and the same is true today.

Latest model

With the most recent generation of Astra arriving on sale in 2015, by 2019 it was about time the firm updated its popular hatchback.

Arriving in showrooms in November 2019, on first impressions, you really would be hard-pressed to spot the difference. The differences to the exterior are minimal but are all focused around improving aerodynamics – such as a revised grille and front bumper.

However, the biggest changes are under the bonnet, with Vauxhall offering a number of engines on the updated Astra - including a new 1.2-litre petrol option and a fresh 1.5-litre diesel. New CVT and nine-speed automatic gearboxes can be chosen on selected versions, too.

A number of tech improvements have also been implemented – including an upgraded front camera for the driver assistance features, as well as a new eight-inch touchscreen.

 

Value for money

The Astra has always majored on offering value for money to the masses, and the latest model continues with this. With prices starting from £19,090, it’s not really that much more expensive than some superminis in the class below, while prices undercut key rivals such as the Ford Focus and Seat Leon. The Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed are more affordable still, though. You also get plenty of standard kit with the Astra – including a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and automatic lights. It misses out on autonomous emergency braking, though, which really should be fitted to all versions.

But where the Astra makes the most sense is on the used market, where current-generation 2015 models start from as little as £5,000, though admittedly for a high-mileage example. Around £7,000 gets you a well-specced Astra with around 50,000 miles on the clock. But nearly-new examples are the models that represent the best value – a one-year old example for as little as £10,000 – meaning it’s halved in value in just 12 months. Just be aware that if you’re buying new, you’re likely to get a big discount off the list price, so never pay the full asking price that Vauxhall advertises.

Looks and image

This latest generation of Astra is arguably the best-looking of the lot, with sharp lines, neat proportions and the cool gloss black cues that help to give the illusion that the roof is floating. This facelift was perhaps a bit too light, though, as Vauxhall has undoubtedly played it very safely – the only real difference being at the front where it has a different grille and a revised front bumper. So, while it’s still a stylish-looking model, it lacks the fresh styling of more modern rivals.

The interior is also quite similar to before, though it remains a clear and fuss-free layout, with a limited number of buttons giving it a more modern look than perhaps it is. The new touchscreen interface and semi-digital dials are neat touches that improve the Astra’s cabin, though. The quality is also largely good throughout, with few cheap materials on show.

Behind the wheel the Astra is better than ever as Vauxhall has managed to shave quite a lot of weight off its predecessor – and it means it feels nimbler and more agile than before, while the new selection of engines makes a big difference. The Ford Focus continues to be the class benchmark if you’re looking for an involving driving experience, but the Astra is closer than ever.

Space and practicality

Far from being the largest car in the mid-size hatchback class, the Astra is still a roomy model that offers plenty of space for families. The 370-litre boot is closely matched to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, but the Fiat Tipo and Skoda Scala offer more room here. One advantage of the Astra, though, is that it comes with a handy ribbed floor, which helps to avoid small items rolling around in the boot.

In the back seats, passengers also get 35mm more kneeroom than before, which while not huge, makes a bit of difference in improving comfort. And despite the Astra’s sloping roofline, headroom isn’t compromised – meaning adults will be able to sit happily in the rear seats.

Engines

As part of the latest facelift, Vauxhall has completely re-jigged its engine line-up.

The new Astra line-up kicks off with a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine, which is available with outputs of 108bhp, 128bhp and 143bhp, with all coming mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Despite the variations in power, all models are quite close when it comes to performance – the 108bhp taking 10 seconds to get from 0-60mph, and the 143bhp version only doing it half a second quicker.

If you want an automatic petrol, the only option is a 1.4-litre petrol unit, which also produces 143bhp. It utilises a CVT automatic gearbox, and is the quickest Astra now available – accelerating from 0-60mph in 9.1 seconds.

If you’d rather have a diesel, there is a new 1.5-litre unit on offer, which is available with outputs of 104bhp or 120bhp. A six-speed manual gearbox comes as standard, though a nine-speed automatic is available on the more powerful version. The 104bhp version reaches 60mph in a respectable 10 seconds, and the 120bhp version manages it in 9.5 seconds.

If you’re looking at pre-facelift versions, the engine choice includes a 104bhp 1.0-litre petrol, a 1.4-litre petrol with 99bhp, 123bhp or 148bhp and a sporty 197bhp 1.6-litre – the closest thing to a hot hatch in this current Astra generation. A 1.6-litre diesel with either 108bhp or 134bhp was also offered.

Running costs

With no electrified options available on the Astra (and unlikely to appear on this current generation), it means you’re limited to purely petrol and diesel models.

Whichever engine you go for, you can expect low running costs – Vauxhall makes bold claims about the efficiency and aerodynamic gains on this new car. It’s true, even the thirstiest 1.4-litre petrol should return 50.4mpg, with CO2 emissions of 129g/km.

Diesel options will be the cheapest to run, though, with the 104bhp 1.5-litre diesel being the most efficient – returning up to 65.7mpg, with low CO2 emissions of 113g/km. Such low emissions also make it an attractive company car – benefit-in-kind (BIK) rates ranging from 25 to 29 per cent.

Things to look out for

The majority of problems reported with the pre-facelift Astra seems to concern piston failures with the turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine, while there were slight gremlins with the 1.6-litre diesel engine, too. With these engines both now being discontinued, things should perform better, though there is still a bit of uncertainty as the facelift is still such a new model.

Rivals

The family hatchback sector remains seriously competitive, with plenty of great options to consider. Perhaps the closest competitor is the Ford Focus, though other models you should consider in this class are the Skoda Scala, Kia Ceed, Peugeot 308 and Volkswagen Golf.

Depreciation

Vauxhalls are known for having heavy depreciation, and that’s certainly true with the Astra. Some less desirable trim levels can nearly halve in value in just over a year – making it a truly fantastic used buy. Just note that few buyers will pay the full list price, as Vauxhall dealers are known to offer large discounts.

Which Astra to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

1.2 Turbo SE 5dr

Most MPG

1.5 Turbo D 105 SE 5dr

Fastest Model (0-60)

1.2 Turbo 145 SRi Nav 5dr Sports Tourer

Trims Explained

Seven trim levels are available on the Astra, with equipment highlights and pricing as follows.

‘SE’

Standard equipment is generous for the price, and includes a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and DAB radio, as well as air-conditioning, cruise control and 16-inch alloy wheels. It also comes with LED daytime running lights, electric windows, automatic lights and tinted rear windows.

Priced from £19,090

‘Business Edition Nav’

This grade gets satellite navigation, a leather steering wheel and front centre armrest.

Priced from £19,790

‘SRi’

Popular SRi versions are the pick of the line-up – adding larger 17-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, LED headlights and the ‘Driver Assistance Pack’, which brings autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist.

Priced from £22,100

‘SRi Nav’

For £700 extra, this grade adds satellite navigation.

Priced from £22,800

‘SRi VX-Line Nav’

This sporty grade comes with large 18-inch alloy wheels, dark tinted rear windows and front fog lights.

Priced from £24,400

‘Elite Nav’

If you’re not so fussed on having sporty looks, you should consider the Elite Nav. It misses out on larger alloys, but comes with an eight-inch touchscreen, an eight-inch digital instrument cluster and leather upholstery. It also comes with heated front and rear seats, electric lumbar support for the front seats and dual-zone climate control.

Priced from £24,160

‘Ultimate Nav’

At the top of the range, the Ultimate Nav features a Bose sound system, 18-inch alloy wheels, a heated windscreen, perforated leather seats, wireless smartphone charging and a heated steering wheel. It also comes with a host of extra safety kit – including Matrix LED headlights, front parking sensors, park assist, traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitoring and a reversing camera.

Priced from £26,960

Summary

  1. Built in the UK
  2. Available as a hatchback and estate
  3. Stylish design
  4. Good to drive
  5. Decent rear space
  6. Average-sized boot
  7. Lots of trim and engine choice
  8. Efficient engines
  9. Facelift is lighter and more efficient
  10. The Astra remains a very credible family hatchback

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