Vauxhall Astra review

Our Rating: 
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

A plush cabin and sharp looks help the latest Vauxhall Astra keep pace with family hatch rivals.

Attractive styling, classy cabin, refinement
Lifeless steering, high prices, lacklustre engines

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Over 35 years on sale, the Vauxhall Astra has consistently featured among the most popular cars on sale in the UK.

Intended as a serious competitor to the Volkswagen Golf, the Vauxhall adopted a more sleek and sporty design with the MkV Astra, as well as giving it a huge upgrade in cabin quality. While it can't quite match the Volkswagen for all-round appeal, the Astra still makes for a comfortable, refined and capable car.

Vauxhall made the Astra an even more appealing choice for family hatchback buyers with a huge range of diesel and petrol engines as well a wide selection of trim levels.

Vauxhall offers the Astra in trims ranging from the entry level Expression to Design, Energy, Tech Line, SRi, Elite, B-Turbo and the Volkswagen Golf GTi rival, the Astra VXR.

The Astra is also available with a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, with the latest addition coming in the guise of an ultra efficient, 108bhp, 1.6-litre TDCi diesel.

Furthermore, the inclusion of the Astra Sport Tourer estate, rakish 3-door GTC coupe as well as the standard 5-door car should mean that there's an Astra for everyone.

Despite its good looks and wide model range, the Vauxhall Astra lacks the level of driver engagement that you'd find in the Ford Focus, for example. Furthermore, range-topping cars are expensive

Our choice: SE 1.7 CDTi 16v 110PS ecoFLEX S/S



The latest generation Vauxhall Astra was launched in 2009, so it's starting to show its age when compared to newer, sharper looking rivals like the Ford Focus or SEAT Leon. Nevertheless, with its styling cues taken from Vauxhall's Ford Mondeo rivalling Insignia, the Astra still looks handsome and well proportioned.

While Vauxhall fits air-con, electric windows and an auxiliary-in socket as standard across the Astra range, entry level Expression models don't get alloy wheels and extra chrome trim.

Furthermore, while the cabin has taken a step forward and has an upmarket feel, the Astra's interior is no match for that found in the Volkswagen Golf.

The chrome-rimmed dials are neat, but the red dot-matrix readout that’s set between them looks a little dated when compared to the colour screens found in a Kia.

Elsewhere, the button-heavy centre console slopes away from the driver, so the standard screen is set further back than the SEAT’s



The levels of refinement and comfort found in the Vauxhall Astra are impressive, and it soaks up poor road surfaces with ease.

Noise levels are low, but the entry-level 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrols are thrashy and gutless. The turbocharged 138bhp and 178bhp litre units are stronger and worth paying a bit extra for.

Those who want a diesel Astra can choose from either a 1.3-litre, 1.6-litre CDTi, 1.7-litre or 2.0-litre engine. The recently introduced 1.6-litre Astra CDTi means Vauxhall now has a rival for the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion or Ford Focus Econetic.

Vauxhall Astra SRi dashboard

Vauxhall fits the Astra with a long throw five or six-speed manual gearbox as standard, the latter of which can feel notchy. However, a six-ratio automatic can be specified as an option.

While it can't match the Ford Focus for fun as a result of lifeless steering, on twisty roads, the Astra is grippy and composed.

Buyers can opt for the optional Flexiride system that tweaks the dampers, steering and throttle for sportier responses, but it is expensive. 



The Astra is a reliable and sturdy family car. It’s safe too having acheived a five-star Euro NCAP rating.

Vauxhall provides six airbags and electronic stability control on every Astra, while active head restraints come as standard kit on SRi models and above.

Adaptive Xenon headlamps that respond to steering inputs to improve night vision in corners are also an option for Astra buyers.

While its sturdy build quality suggests the Astra should be a reliable choice, it dropped way down the order of our 2013 Driver Power survey by 64 places to rank 103rd.

However, Vauxhall throws in a unique warranty that lasts the lifetime (or 100,000 miles) of the car. This applies only to the Astra's first owner.



Given its family hatchback credentials, the Vauxhall Astra is on a par with the Volkswagen Golf in terms of practicality.

Five adults can easily fit inside, and will benefit from a generous amount of head and leg room. In addition to the Astra's spacious cabin, Vauxhall has laid it out in a thoughtful way, including plenty of neat cubby holes and storage boxes for all the family's odds and ends. One minor criticism, however, is that the door bins could do with being a bit bigger.

The Vauxhall Astra has a well-shaped 351-litre load bay, and when folded, the split-fold rear bench results in 1,216 litres of space. An optional Flex Floor system also allows owners to create a completely flat load area with a hidden compartment below to store valuables.

Running Costs


Our choice of engine and model for the Vauxhall Astra is the new 1.6-litre CDTi which returns up to 78.5mpg, and emits only 94g/km.

However, the Astra costs more than a Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion, which gives a better economy figure of 88.3mpg on the combined cycle and emissions of 85g/km of CO2.

The SEAT Leon Ecomotive makes the Astra seem an expensive choice due to its £2,000 cheaper price tag. The SEAT also provides a better combined economy of 85.6mpg and 87g/km of CO2.

Disqus - noscript

If this car had been wearing the Opel badge you can bet it would have been awarded 4.5 stars.

Erm, it's the same car whatever badge it's wearing. Both are sh*t.

British made Astra is very popular outsells the VW Golf in the UK.

Vauxhall Astra is No4 in the UK sales chart. Trusty little Vauxhall is very popular. Buyers keep coming back to buy more Astra cars, Vauxhall must be very happy so are the buyers.

Not as eyecatching as the Ford?? Matter of opinion AE! Also the best drive by far is the 2.0CDTI which is swift and frugal. the 1,4 Turbo is quite quick too but the 1.6 isn't the best choice. It is also expensive but can be bought with a decent discount.

I own a 59 plate 1.7CDTI Astra, new shape it has 62k motorway miles on the clock and the gearbox has just blown..

Surprise Surprise its fitted with the M32 6 speed gearbox. Two independent mechanics told me that the bearings on the 1st and 6th cog would have collapsed.

Lookers in Speke Liverpool, took the car in to take a look and guess what the bearings have collapsed. They have applied to Vauxhall to see if there is any problems or if it can be claimed as a faulty part, Vauxhall denied all knowledge of any problems with this gearbox.

The vehicle is less than 4 years old, 7 months out of warranty and now im looking at a repair bill of near 2k to fix a problem which is well known with this gearbox.

If you Google the box M32 6 speed you will see pages of problems all regarding insufficient bearings which eventually collapse..

If you own one, get shut failing that get the bearings changed, it will cost you about £400 but trust me that's better than the 2k its going to cost me..

I'll never buy Vauxhall again..


I had the repair bill from Lookers in Speke to replace the Gearbox with a new one.


Yeah I nearly fell over also. I refused to pay the bill and called Vauxhall as I was told they may help.

Vauxhall said because I was the second owner and it was 6 months out of warranty they would only offer to pay 80% of the bill. I said well surely you are responsible for a faulty component on a fairly new car.

They said because i was second owner (first being dealer wtf) they would only offer 80%. They said if the dealer paid 10% they would go to 90%

Lookers said we will split the remaining 10% if we went 50/50 leaving we with a repair bill of £233.00 for a new gearbox with 12 month warranty.

I was not happy paying anything however £233, from £4660 is not a bad option.

I have researched this gearbox extensively and as reported elsewhere what happened to mine was identical to every other poor customer.

The M32 gearbox can not handle the torque output by the engine. 1st and 6th gear bearings had collapsed causing the shaft to crack through the case.

If you own a Vauxhall with this gearbox, the first sign of wear or soon to be dead gearbox is excessive play while driving in low (1st ) and high gear (6th)

I would get the bearings changed to more suitable and deffo from an independent but check your warranty as Vauxhall service centers will rob you blind..

Yet the Escort, Focus, Fiesta, Astra and Corsa have always filled the top of the charts for decades. Were all of these cars superb buys?

Typical AE, a Review on the Astra, mentions the Golf on 4 separate occasions!!!!!

I had one of these as a hire car a few weeks ago. Classy cabin ? ..... Definitely not. Sharp edged hard plastic, and seats that seem to have been supplied without any support or springs.

The worst shock of all was coming out of a slip road to join a dual carriageway....foot to the floor, very little happened apart from the rev counter soaring. I had the 1.6 petrol model - and I kid you not, when I got to my destination I opened the bonnet to see if it was actually a 1.6 engine in there - amazingly it was. On speaking with my local garage the other day they said that was a normal experience for an Astra.

I wonder if that was an 8v engine, as I had a previous-model 16v 1.6 LS Estate for several years, and it went like a scalded cat.

I imported it as an Opel, and it covered 106k trouble-free miles until squashed by a truck one icy night.

2009 astra 1.4 power steering fails occassionally when cornering

DoctorDoug, Yep, I agree. I've just replaced a 3 year old Vauxhall Astra and I had to floor it to make it move. My friend said I should've been a rally driver until I got a new car (not a Vauxhall) and noticed the difference in power to speed. I wouldn't touch anything with Vauxhall on it again.

A quite good car, made in the UK. A good driver choice, a good choice for the UK economy.

Yes I agree, the 1.6 non-turbo engine in the Astra is rubbish! Fuel economy is bad and as you mention, the power delivery is poor. For some reason people still buy it though, so they keep making it. Annoying as the other engines are not that bad. I've had several, with my favourite being the 2.0cdti.

I have a 5 month old 2.0ltr diesel sri astra est , first of all it's been a great car very sporty good performance & good fuel economy until it reached 1000 miles then the on board computer started putting the car into service mode every time the car was started. now the car has been back to Vauxhall dealer for the 3rd time in two weeks the dealers have announced they can not repair the fault on the cars computer as they don't have the relevant equipment / qualified technicians . The only option I have been given is keep bringing the car back to them for computer updates every time the car goes into service mode... A really nice car spoilt by poor service back up & dealer technician training .

Last updated: 31 Mar, 2014
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