New Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer PHEV 2023 review
The lower-powered Vauxhall Astra PHEV estate promises to be the sweet spot in the range
Vauxhall’s plug-in hybrid Sports Tourer might just be one of the best versions of the current Astra yet. It balances practicality and efficiency, is fairly comfortable and drives well. Quality could be better, but solid tech and infotainment mean it’s still a well-rounded offering that has no major flaws.
The eighth-generation Vauxhall Astra represents one of the biggest changes for the British brand in its history. Offered with plug-in hybrid and fully electric power for the first time, the Astra’s appeal is broader than ever, which has been helped by the arrival of this Sports Tourer estate.
While most buyers want SUVs, some still value the practicality of a wagon, so Vauxhall will continue to offer one – with different plug-in options. This Hybrid 180 driven here offers 178bhp and 320Nm of torque, thanks to its turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine and electric motor combination. Its 12.4kWh battery delivers up to 42 miles of electric-only range, according to Vauxhall.
Factor in the £39,135 starting price for the GS trim, compared with the more powerful Hybrid 225’s £43,400 price tag, and it seems like this more affordable model is a wiser choice, especially when you consider that it’s only a tenth of a second slower from 0-62mph and offers the same electric range.
Car group tests
When it comes to its dynamics, the plug-in hybrid Sports Tourer feels pretty similar to other Astras. The steering is light, which helps to give the relatively long and large estate the sort of responsiveness you’d expect of a supermini around town.
Our GS test car gets 17-inch alloy wheels as standard and we wouldn’t suggest choosing the optional 18-inch rims. The Sports Tourer’s ride is fine and certainly no worse than its Peugeot 308 cousin; there’s plenty of suspension travel to soak up the worst bumps, but the high-ish kerbweight of 1,717kg gives the hybrid Sports Tourer a tendency to fidget on rough roads.
Vauxhall’s positioning within Stellantis means it offers a slightly sportier approach compared with Peugeot, while Citroen is the comfort-orientated brand. We wouldn’t say the Astra is noticeably more dynamic than a Peugeot 308 SW, however.
The Astra Hybrid 180 powertrain’s throttle response is a little delayed, as are the eight-speed automatic’s shifts, even when you move from ‘Hybrid’ to ‘Sport’ mode. Crucially, though, the combination of the petrol engine and electric motor means the PHEV never feels underpowered.
It’s around town in ‘Electric’ mode where the PHEV feels most impressive, nipping between junctions thanks to its punchy low-speed performance. The ride is respectable and it’s sufficiently refined, too. There’s not too much tyre roar or wind noise, but under hard acceleration the petrol engine is gruff.
The estate’s interior is familiar, with the obvious addition of a lot more practicality. The PHEV is slightly compromised compared with petrol models because of the battery pack, with boot space dropping from 597 litres to 516 litres, but it’s still a good size and there’s plenty of rear passenger room, so it’ll take care of family duties well.
The rest of the cabin is familiar, and our GS model gets plenty of kit. There’s Vauxhall’s dual-screen infotainment set-up, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, plus a 360-degree parking camera.
Most of the touchpoints are finished in leather or soft-touch plastic and the layout looks premium enough for a family estate, but it’s a shame that some frequently touched materials (such as the plastic on the doors) feel very cheap, while the piano black centre console will undoubtedly be covered in scratches after a few years of family life.
|Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer Hybrid 180 GS
|1.6-litre petrol turbo/1x e-motor, 12.4KWh battery