Vauxhall Astra Sport 1.8 Design

Luton’s sharp looker has a distinctive, sporty edge over standard model while five-door remains a popular choice for families.

The Vauxhall Astra is a bread and butter model in the family car sector, but that hasn’t stopped it from pushing the boundaries of conventional design. Now in its fifth generation, the popular hatchback pioneered the idea of distinct three and five-door styling when it debuted in 2004.

While the five-door majors on space and practicality, the three-door has a radically different rear. The sloping roofline and slanted back screen give it a racy profile and, as with its Citroen rival, it has a specific name to match. The Luton firm christened it the Sport Hatch to set it apart from the rest of the range. And judging by our retained value figures, the plan has worked! We’ve picked the petrol-powered 1.8-litre Design version of this popular model, but the pricing is typical of the entire line-up.

The Astra in this trim costs the same £16,715 whichever bodystyle you choose, so you won’t make an initial saving by opting for the three-door variant. However, thanks to stronger residuals, the Sport Hatch will be kinder on your wallet. According to our figures, it will retain 32.8 per cent of its list price after three years and 30,000 miles – that would see it shed £11,239 in depreciation.

In comparison, the more popular five-door Astra retains only 27.5 per cent of its value, losing £12,115 in three years – £876 more than its stablemate. It’s not all plain sailing for the Sport Hatch, though, because you will have to make a few compromises if you choose it over the five-door. Firstly, while rear legroom is unaffected by the switch, the boot is 38 litres smaller in the more practical bodystyle, at 312 litres. The tailgate opening is also narrower, so stowing larger loads is tricky.

Then there’s the issue of visibility. The Sport Hatch’s relocated B-pillars and swooping rear restrict the driver’s over-the-shoulder view, so you need to pay more attention to your blindspots, particularly on motorways. The small rear windows also make for a poor view out for occupants in the back – so even if they can live with the restricted access, they may still feel claustrophobic.

There’s barely anything to separate our pair of Vauxhalls when it comes to running costs or performance. Both return the same fuel economy, and drivers won’t notice any difference in acceleration, either.

Weigh up the pros and cons, and your choice of Astra is a contest between the extra boot space and practicality of the five-door and the more attractive styling and financial appeal of the Sport Hatch. Unless you have to accommodate children, it’s an easy decision to make.

The Sport Hatch also has another trick up its sleeve, because it’s available with Vauxhall’s unusual Panoramic windscreen. The £850 optional extra extends into the roofline and provides a unique driving experience – and it’s only available on the three-door.


Price: £16,715Model tested: Vauxhall Astra Sport 1.8 DesignWHY: 3dr - The five-door Vauxhall is one of the UK’s best-selling compact family cars.5dr - We want to see if the Sport Hatch merits its more exclusive image.


High CO2 emissions afflict both versions of the Astra. They also share the same official fuel economy.

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