The new Astra Sports Tourer is arguably the most attractive car in this class. It has an equally good-looking cabin with the kind of quality you expect from a far bigger model. There’s plenty of space for passengers, and it scores on practicality, too. Plus, Vauxhall has carried over the hatch’s agility – the sharp handling makes this one of the most rounded estates on sale.
Meet the new Vauxhall hoping to give its competitors the boot! This is the Astra Sports Tourer – an estate variant of the brand’s stylish hatch, promising family practicality in a sporty package. We hit the road in the predicted best-seller – the 109bhp 1.7-litre CDTI diesel – to see if it delivers.
The real appeal of the Sports Tourer is its practicality. Its boot has 500 litres of space with the seats in place – that’s 188 litres more than the hatch. FlexFold seating (standard on top-spec SE and SRi models) allows drivers to fold the rear seats forward at the touch of a single button, and increase the capacity to 1,550 litres. Amazingly, that’s more than the Astra’s Insignia Sports Tourer big brother!
For a completely flat load area, owners can also fold the rear seatbases flat against the seat in front, or remove them completely. And to keep your valuables out of sight, there’s a tonneau cover – which can be retracted out of the way with a flick of the wrist.
The engine fires up quietly, but as you pull away, a gruff sound penetrates the cabin. It’s not especially intrusive, unless you press on to the red line. And as the 260Nm of peak torque arrives between 1,700rpm and 2,550rpm, the revs aren’t often high enough for it to be an issue.
On the move, the Sports Tourer feels punchier than its 0-62mph time of 12.2 seconds suggests, and strikes a strong balance between performance and economy. Topping the range is a 2.0-litre CDTI model capable of 0-62mph in nine seconds and a 133mph top speed, while three petrol options include a 1.4-litre turbo and a 1.6-litre. The flexible Astra doesn’t disappoint in the green stakes, either. Vauxhall claims 61.4mpg combined fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 121g/km for our model. The most efficient version is the 1.3 CDTI ecoFLEX – this has stop-start, and gives 68.9mpg and 109g/km.
But can the estate live up to its Sports name? Find a twisty road, and the electric power-steering is responsive and precise – even if it suffers from inconsistent weighting at times – while body roll is well controlled. Models fitted with Vauxhall’s FlexRide adaptive dampers are even better, with the Sport mode stiffening up the ride just enough to make the ST feel as agile as the smaller, lighter hatch.
It looks as good as the five-door, too. The curvy, Insignia-inspired design is carried over to the estate, and the shallow windows provide it with a sleek and sporty silhouette. Plus, the wraparound rear screen helps to create a wide and low stance. Inside, there’s a real premium feel, with classy touches such as ambient lighting and solid-feeling switchgear normally found in much more expensive models.
Our Exclusiv model – one above the entry-level spec – came equipped with cruise control and steering wheel audio buttons. Unfortunately, it does without alloy wheels as standard, and the set fitted to the car in our pictures was an optional extra. Without them, the 1.7 CDTI Exclusiv weighs in at £19,375, but entry-level models start from £16,575.
Rival: VW Golf estate
In comparison with the new Sports Tourer, the load-carrying Golf looks understated. It’s not quite as practical, either, with the boot expanding to 1,495 litres when the seats are folded.