Cargiant reviews the Vauxhall Astra
As a practical, versatile hatchback, the Vauxhall Astra is a highly popular little family car. Available as a 3 and 5-door hatchback, Sport Tourer, GTC and 2-door convertible it isn’t limited to families however. The Astra has undergone a number of facelifts over time, leaving it with a sleek finish and strong, powerful engines.
It offers soft standard suspension in the hatchbacks and firmer, sharper suspension in the sportier models like the GTC. The Vauxhall Astra has excellent grip, accurate steering and a good range of competitive, fuel-efficient engines. Touch ups since the launch in 2009 have left the Astra with good refinement and quality interiors.
The Vauxhall Astra may be rivalled by the likes of the VW Golf and Ford Focus for general appearance, but it certainly gives them a run for their money with regards to space. Even in the back where the roof slopes downwards, there is plenty of headspace, which compliments the large amount of legroom and boot space.
Although the Vauxhall Astra is a nippy and safe car to drive, it is hardly exhilarating, so if it’s an exciting ride you seek you might be advised to look elsewhere. It’s also valued at a similar cost to the Ford Focus and doesn’t hold it’s value as well as you might expect, however large discounts and an unlimited mileage warranty are available.
Drive and Performance:
Built with comfort in mind, the Vauxhall Astra isn’t the most thrilling car to drive and rivals like the Volkswagon Golf and Mazda 3 offer a much more fun experience.
It’s suspension however, even in the basic models like the 5-door hatchback are enough to smooth out any bumps and dampen any road noise. The GTC and sportier cars in the series are equipped with firmer suspension, which may make the drive less fluid, but does increase the body control and make the Vauxhall Astra feel a bit more agile.
Having said that, the Vauxhall Astra is not short of grip, which allows it to enter bends at speed without losing composure. The visibility whilst driving however, is not as creditable. Large blindspots mean that junctions are more difficult and the rear windows in the GTC are also harder to see through because of their size restrictions.
Overall, the driving and performance of the Vauxhall Astra is a little underwhelming and gets more so in more testing conditions. However, there is a general consensus that it delivers a comfortable and responsive ride even if it feels a little sluggish at times.
MPG, Running Costs and Emissions:
The Vauxhall Astra can be purchased with large discounts and offers an unlimited warranty and fuel-efficient engines.
The EcoFlex 1.7-litre diesel is the best economical and efficient engine, emitting only 99g/km of CO2 emissions and reaching 76.3mpg. Coming under the magic 100g/km of emissions means that it is also tax-free and so is very cheap to run. The cheapest engine is the petrol 1.4 litre, which can achieve 51.4mpg, however being petrol means it cannot compete with Ford’s EcoBoost engine in efficiency for example.
The discounts offered with the Vauxhall Astra may also not actually be as beneficial as you might hope. Even with them, the Astra is still the same cost as the Ford Focus, which is quite expensive, and is even more than the Seat Leon or VW Golf. It doesn’t hold its value over time either, which may be problematic for you at resale later on.
The newer versions of the Vauxhall Astra have taken a big step toward from earlier models since being launched in 2009. A subtle facelift has been given to the front and rear of the series giving it a slightly sleeker finish to make it stand out that little bit more from other hatchbacks. The more recent Vauxhall Astra is also bigger than it’s predecessors but this is perhaps a negative as parking can be more difficult, especially with the lack of parking sensors.
On the flip side however, the increase in size means more space internally. The Vauxhall Astra provides plenty of head and leg space as well as adjustable seats and steering wheel, allowing both the passengers and driver a very comfortable journey. There is also a spacious boot that can be divided into 2 sections in some models and lots of cubbyholes and storage space, further emphasising the Vauxhall Astra’s suitability as a family car.
The interior of the Vauxhall Astra also has a quality feel to it without being arrogant about it. It comes with leather-trimmed seats in sportier models and a soft touch, visually appealing, high-tech looking dash that outdoes that of the VW Golf. That said, there is a large amount of small buttons on the dashboard, which may look nice but are quite hard to operate on the move. The visibility in the Astra is also not as good as it could be, with small windows making the back seem a little cramped at times.
The Vauxhall Astra comes with the sort of equipment you might expect from a hatch, including air-con, electric front windows and remote locking. In the more expensive models you can also get climate control, allows, sat-nav, Bluetooth and DAB radio. That’s one of the nice things about the Vauxhall Astra – there are no surprises and it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. It is simple a relatively attractive, practical and comfortable car that’s perfect for you and your family.
The Vauxhall Astra comes equipped with 6 airbags and stability control as standard, which is less some rivals but still provides good reliability and safety. You can also upgrade your safety package at a cost to include features such as lane departure warning, traffic sign recognitions, blindspot assist and active head restraints in certain models like the SRi.
Despite the Vauxhall Astra having less standard safety features than others, it still scored the maximum 5 star rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests, and obtained a higher score than the Ford Focus for adult occupant protection and the Audi A3, which is really quite impressive.