Vauxhall Astra review
The Vauxhall Astra performs well in a field of tough hatchback rivals
The Astra was trailing its rivals slightly before it benefited from an update in 2019 that brought some great engines and some useful trim revisions. It can’t quite match the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus as a complete package but the Astra is a capable, comfortable and efficient all-rounder nonetheless. There should be an Astra to suit most needs thanks to a wide range of trims, but even entry SE models are decently equipped.
It’s not the last word in driving fun, but this Astra was developed in the UK and it shows – it performs very well on our roads. It also looks great inside and out, especially after its subtle nip-and-tuck update in 2019, while the up-to-date engines have helped to keep Vauxhall’s family favourite competitive.
The Vauxhall Astra has long stood alongside its big-hitting Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf rivals as one of the biggest names in the UK family car market. Now in its seventh generation and refreshed in 2019 with an updated engine and trim level line-up, the Astra remains competitive in a segment that’s packed full with talented rivals.
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The Astra ticks most boxes – it’s spacious, well put-together and its engines blend performance and economy well. It’s good to drive, boasts a particularly comfortable ride and comes well equipped throughout its revised (and easier to understand) range. There are still loads of trim levels, however – this is a Vauxhall after all. SE, Business Edition Nav, SRi, SRi Nav and Elite Nav Premium comprise the range, with each packing varying levels of standard kit, styling additions and interior trim differences. Hot-hatch fans will be disappointed by the lack of a sporty VXR model, however.
The Astra range includes a five-door hatchback and a revised Sports Tourer estate, so buyers seeking more space now have an alternative to the British brand’s SUV offerings.
The entire Astra engine line-up was updated in 2019 with a view to improving fuel economy, emissions and performance. The petrol range consists entirely of turbocharged three-cylinder engines: three 1.2-litre units with 110PS, 130PS and 145PS respectively, plus a 1.4-litre unit with 145PS that’s available exclusively with a ‘Stepless’ CVT transmission.
The three diesels are turbocharged three-cylinder units too; 1.5-litres with 105PS or 122PS. They each can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox, but the more powerful version is the only car in the range with a conventional automatic – a nine-speed unit.
The availability of each engine and gearbox combination changes depending on trim level, although interestingly, Vauxhall has chosen to offer the lower-spec trim levels with most engine options. For instance, you could choose a base SE model with the 1.4-litre (145PS) powerplant and CVT gearbox.
Prices for the Astra start from just under £19,000, climbing to just over £28,000 for top-spec models. However, Vauxhall isn't shy with the discounts, with head office regularly announcing incentives across the entire range, while dealers are sure to offer even more off these prices to lure buyers in.
But these discounts don't mean you're buying a poor-quality vehicle in the shape of the Astra. It's a strong contender in the hatchback class against some seriously good competition, including long-standing rivals, such as the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Honda Civic. The SEAT Leon and Mazda 3 are sporty alternatives, and if you want quality and space, the Peugeot 308, Skoda Octavia and Renault Megane are all worth a look. For dependable transport with decent kit and a long warranty, there's the Kia Ceed and Hyundai i30.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Vauxhall Astra performs well in a field of tough hatchback rivals
- 2Engines, performance and driveStrong diesel engines and punchy petrols combine well with the Astra's composed chassis
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsAll Vauxhall Astra models are impressively eco-friendly, with excellent figures from the 1.5-litre diesel versions
- 4Interior, design and technologyAstra has a premium looking and feeling interior with a dashboard dominated by a seven- or eight-inch touchscreen
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe latest Astra is slightly smaller on the outside, but bigger on the inside, with more space for a family than many rivals
- 6Reliability and SafetyNew Astra gets impressive safety kit and we’d expect reliability to be okay, although Vauxhall’s Driver Power ranking is poor