The latest Vauxhall Astra is well equipped, affordable to run, and more agile than expected. It even comes as a dog friendly sports tourer as well as being a practical family five-door hatchback.
The Astra has been a firm favourite our roads since launch in the late 1970’s. Whether it has been in hatchback, saloon, estate, coupe, cabriolet or van guise, there is no getting away from the fact but it is quite possibly one of Vauxhalls bestselling vehicles in the UK.
Having owned a fifth generation Astra Estate for a few years, around a decade ago, I can assure you that it surpassed all expectations. Especially during the winter months when I used to head up farm lanes fully laden with men, working dogs and associated sporting goods for a day on the moss-land.
Onto its seventh generation now, the Vauxhall Astra is better than ever, meaning it is likely to stay as a family, sales rep and constabulary preference for quite some time, helped in part thanks to a few punchy turbocharged engines. Not only that, but this new Astra is considerably lighter than its previous model, aiding economy and agility.
The hatchback range starts from £18,890 or £269.93/m (T&C pending), while the estate range commands around £2,000 more. Having been trusted with the hatchback version for a week, it is in this guise that I will talk about throughout this article and, depending on trim, there is an option of 6 colours, 6 engines and 3 gearboxes.
Standard features which can be found on the ‘SE’ trim include 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control with speed limiter, air conditioning, multifunction steering wheel, ISOFIX child seat mounting points on outer rear seats, 60/40 split-folding rear seat back, automatic lighting control, and a 7-inch colour touchscreen featuring AM/FM/DAB radio with Bluetooth audio streaming and mobile phone portal, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as USB audio connectivity.
Priced from £19,740 is a ‘Business Edition Nav’ which adds a multimedia navigation infotainment system, leather steering wheel and front central armrest, LED headlights, rain sensitive windscreen wipers and interior ambient lighting.
Next is an ‘SRi’ priced from £18,295 which features 17-inch alloy wheels, sports-style front seats, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, lane departure warning with lane assist, electronic parking brake and front fog lights.
Next is an ‘SRi Nav’ which adds, as you would imagine, multimedia navigation infotainment system with a premium speaker upgrade and is priced from £18,795.
A top of the range ‘Elite Nav Premium’ is priced from £22,950 and features a larger 8-in colour touchscreen as the hub for its infotainment, a colour digital instrument display, dual zone electronic climate control, humidity sensor, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera, keyless entry and start, leather upholstery with heated front and outer rear seating and a heated windscreen.
The six engines mentioned previously are actually only three, all of which are three-cylinder, turbocharged units. The range starts with a 1.2-litre petrol which is available with 110PS, 130PS or 145PS, all of which are paired with a 6-speed manual transmission.
There is also a 1.4-litre petrol engine available, as tested, which is paired to a CVT ‘stepless’ automatic transmission and produces 145PS. You can expect a return of around 47mpg from the smaller petrol engine, with a return of 42mpg to from the 1.4-litre version.
The sole 1.5-litre diesel engine is available with 105PS or 122PS, both of which come as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox with the higher powered engine also being available with a 9-speed automatic transmission.
A return of 60mpg can be expected from the smaller output engine, with the larger output engine returning around 57mpg. The 9-speed auto takes its toll on economy with a return of around 50mpg.
The model tested and pictured was effortless to drive and it didn’t take too long to get used to the mannerisms of the stepless automatic transmission featured on this model. I would even go as far as saying that is it was quite an enjoyable experience when on a spirited back road drive.
Inside, the Vauxhall Astra is reasonably spacious for front seat passengers, although things may get a little tight with four tall adults travelling on a long journey. I found the driver’s seat to be very comfortable and supportive, and a nice driving position was easily achieved with all controls at arm’s length.
The heated seats and steering wheel on the model tested were most welcome in autumn when I drove this car and while a lot of the materials used around the cabin might not be great to look at, they will be hard wearing and I am sure, will stand the test of time with busy family life.
Servicing for all engines is advised every 20,000 miles or annually, whichever occurs sooner and Vauxhall offer a 3-year, 60,000 mile warranty.
Fact File for model tested
Make : Vauxhall
Model : Astra
Trim : SRi Nav
Engine : 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol
Gearbox : CVT stepless auto
Cost : Circa £23,000
Words & Photos: GRAHAM BAALHAM-CURRY
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