Road test: Vauxhall Astra

Posted on November 20th, 2015 by James Luckhurst

The new Vauxhall Astra is one of the best in class.

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Road test: Vauxhall Astra

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What is it?

Vauxhall’s riposte to the updated Ford Focus and Kia Cee’d, as well as the ever popular Volkswagen Golf. The new Vauxhall Astra is sleeker and packed with high tech.

How safe is it?

More expensive Astras have automated emergency braking in addition to six airbags and stability control. There’s also the option of OnStar that automatically contacts emergency services after a collision.

Who should buy one?

Anyone looking for a thoroughly up to date small hatch that’s fun to drive, superbly refined and well equipped in most models. The Astra is UK-built for added Brit appeal.

Road test by Al Suttie published 21 November 2015

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Road test: Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall is very proud that its latest Astra has seen many development miles in the UK. This has led to a specific set-up for the UK that means the Astra is ideally adapted to our uniquely poor road surfaces.

The first sign of how well suited the Astra is to UK roads is how refined it is. Where some rivals start off with engine and tyre rumble and add in engine noise as speed increases, the Astra is supremely quiet at all speeds. The benefits of this cannot be overstated when it comes to covering large distances with minimal fatigue.

Vauxhall has achieved this excellent refinement by honing every component rather than stuffing the car full of sound deadening. The upside to this is the new Astra is up to 200kg lighter than its predecessor, which helps deliver impressive fuel economy and emissions figures and also makes the new Vauxhall much more engaging to drive on corner-festooned roads. It’s not quite as fleet of foot as a Ford Focus, but the Astra is agile, assured and fun while offering ride comfort to put its rivals in the shade.

There’s an expectedly large engine selection, with power outputs ranging from 100PS (99bhp) to 200PS (197bhp), but the highlights are the new 1.0-litre three-cylinder with 105PS, the 150PS 1.4 turbo petrol and the 136PS 1.6-litre turbodiesel. The smaller petrol is ideally adapted to town driving, but the 1.4 offers more verve for motorways and country roads with a swift 0-60mph time of 7.8 seconds.

Fuel economy of 76.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km make the 1.6 diesel attractive for business and private users, and all three engines are hushed, pull strongly and have slick six-speed gearboxes. The 1.4 turbo can also be ordered with an optional automatic six speeder that works smoothly.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Road test: Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall has pulled off a neat track with the new Astra. It’s smaller on the outside yet bigger on the inside compared to the previous generation. The new model offers plenty of head, leg and shoulder space for the front passengers. The steering wheel adjusts for height and reach so, along with the comfortable seat, finding a good driving position is simple for drivers of most shapes and sizes.

Over the shoulder vision for the driver is limited, though the car’s more compact wheelbase than the preceding Astra helps the new model negotiate tight corners with ease.

Space in the rear is above average for this sector, so adults can fit in there without knocking knees against the back of the front seats. A 370-litre boot is able to cope with most luggage demands, but it’s not class-leading and there’s a large step in the load floor when the 60/40 split and tip rear seats are folded down for more carrying capacity.

SAFETY
Road test: Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall expects a five-star rating when the Astra is tested by Euro NCAP, helped by its six airbags and stability control as standard. SRi and above trims also come with Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Autonomous City Braking. The optional OnStar system lets you speak to a call centre to get directions but more significantly it will automatically contact the emergency services in the event of a collision.

EQUIPMENT
Road test: Vauxhall Astra

There’s a choice of five trims and all have air conditioning, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, cruise control and all-round electric windows. The fleet-focused Techline adds satnav, while Energy deletes this in favour of heated front seats and larger alloy wheels. SRi models have sports seats and the OnStar system as standard. Elite models have climate control and leather seats with heating and electric adjustment for the front pews.

COSTS

Road test: Vauxhall Astra

The Astra is now cheaper to buy and cheaper to run than before. Lower list prices appeal, while fuel economy of 76.3mpg and 99g/km CO2 emissions for the punchy 136PS 1.6-litre diesel are class-competitive. More impressive still is the 91.1mpg and 82gkm of the lower power 110PS 1.6 diesel. Vauxhall resale values have not traditionally been strong, but low insurance rates starting at Group 3 should help offset this.

WE SAY

The new Vauxhall Astra is one of the best in class.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £19,580
Performance: 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds
Economy: 76.3mpg combined
Insurance: Group 16E-T2
Tax: Band A (£0 first year)

Figures for the 1.6 CDTi 136 S/S Ecoflex Techline