Vauxhall Astra Review 2019

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

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4
Out of 5

Pros

  • - Sharp styling
  • - Great to drive
  • - Plenty of standard equipment

Cons

  • - Not the bargain it used to be
  • - Poor ride quality
  • - More practical rivals
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    90 - 115 g/km

Model Review

Few cars have been as popular in the UK over the years as the humble Astra has. 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 Astra’s 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.

Over the years, there’s 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

The latest Astra was unveiled in June 2015, with the model focusing on better refinement and technology. It was offered with ‘OnStar’, which was a system that brought a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, a concierge service and emergency calling. Sadly, the system is being discontinued shortly because Vauxhall is now owned by French giant PSA Group. However, the model also comes with the IntelliLink infotainment system, which is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity.

It’s also smaller than the model it replaces, with increased practicality and interior storage, and with a weight saving of up to 200kg.

The current Astra is also a much more stylish model than the version it replaced, with a sporty-looking design and a highlight being the ‘floating’ roof and C-pillar.

Since launch, the Astra has won a number of awards, while Vauxhall has also launched a range-topping Ultimate trim level featuring luxuries such as Matrix LED headlights, perforated leather seats and park assist.

 

Value for money

Vauxhall has gradually upgraded the Astra’s specifications since launch. That, along with getting rid of the least powerful engines, has meant that the starting prices of the Astra are now quite steep. The range starts at £18,900 for a Design model, which makes it more expensive than key rivals such as the Ford Focus and Kia Ceed. It does come with plenty of equipment for the price, though. This includes cruise control, LED daytime running lights and a seven-inch touchscreen. Top spec models are expensive are as well — particularly the Ultimate, which starts at £26,030. That said, Vauxhall dealers are usually quite generous with their discounts on new models.

Due to the Astra’s popularity, there’s never a shortage of used examples for sale. They make great runabouts, with plenty for sale under the £1,000 marker. However, our focus here is on the latest version. Vauxhalls have quite a poor reputation when it comes to holding value, although this means there’s plenty of cheap examples of the current car for sale.

At the time of writing we saw a new-shape 2016 model for sale at £6,500, albeit with quite a high mileage. Around £7,000 will get you an example with around 50,000 miles on the clock. Ultimately though, it’s nearly-new models which make a terrific amount of sense. We saw a year-old example for sale with 20,000 miles on the clock for £9,500 — that’s half the price of a brand new one!

Looks and image

The Astra has never been a particularly exciting model stylistically, but the latest car is the best looking yet. The chrome grille, aforementioned ‘floating roof’ and creased bonnet have transformed how the Astra’s look, with SRi and SRi VX-Line trim levels looking particularly smart thanks to their larger alloy wheels.

The interior is another vast improvement over the previous-generation car. Vauxhall has done away with the button-heavy layout of the past, and replaced it with a sharp seven-inch touchscreen. Thankfully, the Astra has remained sensible by keeping buttons for core functions such as air conditioning, rather than following the hit-and-miss trend of putting the functions on the screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is also included as standard, which is an added bonus.

The interior is not quite up to the standard you would find in the Volkswagen Golf, but it’s entirely pleasant, with plenty of soft-touch plastics.

Thanks to a significant weight loss of almost 200kg, the Astra is now better to drive. It handles sweetly, with a decent feel to the steering and very limited body lean in the corners, but it’s not as dynamic as class-leaders such as the Ford Focus. Where the Astra feels most comfortable is when it’s cruising, with excellent refinement and comfortable seats allowing it to eat up the miles with ease; the only demerit against it in the refinement stakes is the diesel engine, which can feel a bit gruff at times.

Space and practicality

Despite the new Astra being 5cm shorter than the last, clever packaging has ensured that it’s no less practical. Interior space is not class-leading, but there’s decent headroom and legroom for adults in the rear seats, and the Astra makes a lot of sense to growing families. There’s no shortage of cubby holes throughout the interior, either.

Boot space remains the same as before, with a 370-litre load bay to play with. It’s pretty average in terms of size for its class, but it’s well-shaped and doesn’t have much of a lip, which makes loading heavier items far simpler. There’s also the option of the Astra Sports Tourer — or estate, in layman’s terms — which offers 540 litres of capacity, or 1,630 litres with the rear seats folded. There are more practical estate cars out there, but it’s still an excellent size.

The Astra is a safe family car and rightfully so, it was awarded a five star safety rating by Euro NCAP. The Astra lacks the standard safety kit fitted to more recent rivals such as the Ford Focus, and it’s only the SRi models that benefit from driving aids. The SRi spec adds autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist and traffic sign recognition as part of the Driver Assistance package, while range-topping Ultimate cars gain front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot warning and a reversing camera.

Engines

Whether it’s petrol or diesel engines, the Astra offers plenty of choice to drivers.

The entry-level engine is a three-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit, which is followed by a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine, which produces either 123bhp or 148bhp dependant on spec.

The range-topping engine is a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol unit which produces 197bhp. It’s capable of a 0-60mph sprint in 7.4 seconds, and a top speed of 146mph. It’s the closest thing you can get to a hot hatch in the current Astra line-up.

The choice of diesels is also excellent, with all options being a variant of the same turbocharged 1.6-litre unit. The standard engine produces 108bhp, followed by a 134bhp version, which is our pick of the line-up. The most powerful diesel engine is the twin-turbo version, which produces 148bhp, and manages 0-60mph in 8.6 seconds and a top speed of 138mph.

All engines minus the 1.0-litre petrol engine — which comes with a five-speed manual — are paired with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. Only the 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine and 134bhp diesel engine are offered with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Running costs

There is quite a difference in terms of efficiency between the petrol and diesel engines. The 108bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine is the cleanest, returning between 52.3mpg and 58.9mpg, with CO2 emissions of 112g/km. All diesel engines will be cheap to run, while the 1.0-litre petrol engine is also a clean unit. However, it might need to be revved more to achieve decent progress.

It’s only the 1.6-litre petrol which can be quite thirsty, returning between 38.7mpg and 41.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 151g/km. This model will also cost more to tax than the other variants.

Insurance premiums should also be relatively low, with models ranging from group 10 to 24, depending on spec and engine. It’s the SRi trim levels which are the cheapest to insure, surprisingly, thanks to the extra safety kit these versions are fitted with.

Servicing costs will also be low, with Vauxhall dealerships offering fixed-price servicing on this model, should you choose to have your car serviced at a franchised dealer.

Things to look out for

The Astra hasn’t always had the best of reputations, but the latest model has proven to be reliable so far. While there have been isolated issues with individual cars, these problems don’t seem to be widespread. The only thing worth mentioning is that the 1.4-litre petrol engine — when equipped with an automatic gearbox — has been a bit problematic, with several owners reporting that the engine has cut out. If you’re looking at buying one of these versions, we recommend taking a trusted mechanic to inspect the car.

Rivals

The family hatchback is a very popular sector, and the Astra has no shortage of credible rivals. The Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf are perhaps the two closest offerings, but other cars worth considering in this sector include the Kia Ceed, Hyundai i30, Peugeot 308, Seat Leon, Honda Civic and Renault Megane.

Depreciation

Vauxhalls don’t have a strong reputation when it comes to the way its cars hold their value and the Astra is no different. With the model being such a popular choice, and not particularly premium, it means there’s always plenty to choose from on the used market, which doesn’t help values. Nearly 50 per cent discounts can be obtained on examples under a year old, which makes the Astra a truly fantastic car to buy used.

Which Astra to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

1.2 Turbo SE 5dr

Most MPG

1.2 Turbo SE 5dr

Fastest Model (0-60)

1.2 Turbo 145 SRi Nav 5dr Sports Tourer

Summary

  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

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