Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer review
Eye-catching design and strong practicality make the Vauxhall Astra Sport Tourer a fine estate car choice
If you’re looking for a family estate that’s as practical as it is stylish, then the Vauxhall Astra Sport Tourer could be just the ticket. With its sleek lines and upmarket cabin, the latest addition to the Astra range has enough premium appeal to rival the class leading VW Golf Estate. As with the hatchback there’s a wide range of trim levels and engines to choose from, meaning there’s a model for every taste and budget. However, the lack of driver involvement and the pricey range-topping versions mean that the Astra narrowly misses out on the title of top compact family estate car
Our choice: Astra VSE 1.7CDTi 16v 125PS ecoFLEX
There are few estate rivals that match the Vauxhall Astra Sport Tourer for kerb appeal. Taking its cues from the larger Insignia Sport Tourer, the Astra is a sleek and well-proportioned machine that oozes class. Buyers are able to choose from ES, Exculsiv, SRi and SE trim levels. Entry-level versions are identified by their plain plastic wheel trims, while SRi and SE models benefit from alloy rims and extra chrome trim. Quality materials and attractive design help give the Astra cabin an upmarket feel, although it doesn’t match the VW Golf for premium appeal. Air-con, electric windows and an aux-in socket are standard across the range, while the SE interior gets a classy ambient lighting package.
It’s the refinement and comfort delivered by the Sport Tourer that most impresses. Noise levels are low and the ride soaks up big bumps. Supportive seats and a well thought out driving position take the strain out of long trips. The entry-level 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrols are thrashy and gutless performers. That leaves the 1.3-litre, 1.7-litre and 2.0-litre diesels – all deliver decent mid-range urge, but the smaller units are raucous when worked hard. A long throw five or six-speed manual gearbox is standard, while a six-ratio auto is optional on the 1.6-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel. There is impressive grip and composure, but the Ford Focus Estate is more fun to drive. The optional Flexride system tweaks the dampers, steering and throttle for sportier responses.
Sturdy construction and a raft of safety features helped the Astra net a five-star Euro NCAP rating. All versions get six airbags and electronic stability control, while active head restraints are standard on SRi and SE models. Adaptive Xenon headlamps that respond to steering inputs for better nighttime vision in corners are available as an option. Solid build quality suggests the Sport Tourer should be a reliable and hard-wearing family choice, plus there’s a vast network of dealers for routine servicing. What’s more, the first owner of the car benefits from a unique warranty that lasts the lifetime of the car or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
The Astra doesn’t disappoint when it comes to practicality. With the rear seats in place the Vauxhall will swallow an impressive 500 litres of luggage. What’s more the boot is beautifully trimmed and there’s useful extra storage in a shallow underfloor compartment. Go for the SRi or SE models and you’ll get the FlexFold system, which lowers the rear bench at the touch of a button, increasing carrying capacity to a healthy 1,550 litres. The spacious cabin will just about accommodate five adults, with those in the back getting decent head and legroom. Better still, close inspection of the cabin reveals plenty of neat cubby holes and storage boxes.
For low running costs, the ECOflex models are best. The cleanest and most frugal is the 1.3-litre CDTi, which uses stop-start technology to keep CO2 emissions down to 109g/km. What’s more, it promises to return a fuel-sipping 68.9mpg at the pumps – although the pay off for these impressive eco-friendly credentials is lethargic straightline pace. Even the 1.6-litre petrol turns in decent figures, and will manage 44.1mpg while emitting 149g/km of C02. As with its hatchback brother, the Sport Tourer isn’t cheap. Even the entry-level ES model looks expensive when compared to rivals such as the Renault Megane Sport Tourer and Ford Focus Estate. But range-topping versions provide plenty of kit for your cash.