VAUXHALL ASTRA, IS THIS ACTUALLY EUROPE’S MOST OWNED CAR.
CARGIANT PRICE RANGE: £4,499 - £13,799
The Astra is a fine example of German engineering and automotive creativity, but Britain will claim responsibility for the build and manufacture of 2016’s European Car of the Year. When Vauxhall announced the creation of 550 new jobs in Ellesmere and Luton in 2014, the production of the Astra itself took an unconventional backseat. It’s somewhat understandable how the performance of the Astra, alongside its smaller counterpart the Corsa can easily be overlooked, for almost 2 decades both have been regular fixtures in UK’s top-10 selling cars. Nobody ever doubted the success the next evolution of the Astra would bring to Vauxhall.
After almost one year since its release, does the Astra 2016 live up to the reputation set by some of its predecessors.
Inspired by 2013’s Monza Concept, the new car’s lean design makes Astra look more athletic than ever before thanks to work carried out by a design team led by Brit Mark Adams. Evolution of the Vauxhall design philosophy ‘sculptural artistry meets technical precision’ ensures that the 2016 Astra catches the eye as it weaves in and out of traffic.
The Astra is also smaller on the outside but larger on the inside, highlighting the brand’s focus on great efficiency. In fact you could argue the Astra is an embodying model for efficiency.
All of the design elements, like the way the grille flows seamlessly into the lamps, the dynamic divided C-pillar and stretched taught surfaces down the body side, all support the visual effect in making the new Astra look lower, longer and wider.
Engine, Performance & Drive
The first thing most people will comment on when they get behind the wheel of the Astra is that its noticeably lighter. The handling gives an unfamiliar agility that might unsettle you at first if you’re use to more grounded versions of the Astra. But don’t let this steer you into thinking the Astra is a flailing option, its new found agility actually provides a smoother driving experience. There is a seamless connection between steering, transmission and breaking. If you really want to put this to the test, a stretch of winding road will bring the best out of the Astra.
The Astra generally has a strong engine which makes it a reliable when it comes to keeping up with traffic and overtaking.
It has a smooth manual gearbox, you might however notice a slightly longer throw between gears which means you might have to be a lot more patient with your transitions on the road. The automatic Astra are definitely not as expansive as the manual though they still boast a number of powerful versions of the turbocharged 1.4 litre petrol or 1.6 diesel.
Pricing, Reliability & Safety
You don’t win European Car of the Year without being put through many paces, yet the Astra passes every test with flying colours. It’s one of the most affordable cars on the market (cheaper than the Golf) and the diesel Astra managed a 85mpg in EU fuel test, placing it second when it comes to fuel efficiency. The petrol version of the Astra are not as economical as the diesels, however you will find they still compete with petrol equivalents from similar models.
With the mid-power diesel 136bhp at 99g/km and the petrol with an impressive low of 105bhp, the Astra is also easy on tax.
Like most models with long standing competitors, the Astra will always have to compete in a stringent market. Which is a good thing for those who fancy their chances at bargaining with local retailers.
What Cargiant thinks
Because of the Astra’s relatively recent release, we haven’t been able to host a lot 2016 Astras for us to provide our fullest insight – and for obvious reasons we don’t plan to have many hanging around for some time to come yet. The Astras highly sought after reputation on the sales floor is not a surprising one, for obvious reasons we have a large number of customers who have added this vehicle to their web alert list. This is the first Astra we believe genuinely competes with the Focus and Golf, for a car that’s been known more for its durability and reliability – now more adventurous drivers are curious to see what this new responsive Astra has to offer.