Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo
We drive the hot new diesel Vauxhall Astra, which is the star of the facelifted range
For a clever mix of performance, practicality and low running costs, the Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo makes a strong case for itself. It’s fun to drive, very quick and great value compared to its fiercest rival, the VW Golf GTD. That’ll be enough to draw some to the BiTurbo, but the Golf still wins out for driver appeal and ride comfort, while it also has the option of an auto box.
The BiTurbo model, which sits below the VXR but above the Sport, is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel four-cylinder with a pair of turbochargers, making a total of 192bhp. More importantly there’s a massive 400Nm of torque, which is the same as the 276bhp Astra VXR.
Before you climb in and fire up the new engine, you’ll have seen the Astra range’s revised styling. It includes a new grille, indicators and foglights, while the BiTurbo adds a more aggressive bodykit, body-coloured front grille and unique 18-inch alloys.
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Inside, there’s fabric sports seats trimmed with red highlights, a leather-covered sports steering wheel and well positioned aluminium sports pedals.
Equipment levels are strong, with the BiTurbo getting cruise control, ESP, six airbags and tinted electric windows. DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, iPod, auxiliary connection and even an SD card slot complete an impressive mix of gadgets.
This engine debuted in the Insignia, but in the smaller Astra it sounds a little noisier. It’s never harsh, though, and power delivery is super-smooth thanks to its two turbos. A small, more responsive turbo kicks in low in the rev range, before the larger one spools to help push the BiTurbo from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds.
The gearshift is a little notchy and the steering could do with better feel, but overall it’s easy to position the BiTurbo on the road and the car maintains its composure over bumps well.
The Sports suspension means a 6mm lower ride height with three selectable modes: the default, which can give a slightly jiggly ride, sharper Sport and serene Tour. The difference isn’t night and day, but Tour is excellent for both twisty roads and around town, with Sport still comfortable but taking things up a notch.
The BiTurbo is offered on three bodystyles, with a Sports Tourer estate and a three-door GTC alongside the practical five-door. The latter offers a 351-litre load space, 60/40 split-fold seat, cargo net and shopping hook.
It’s an impressive all-round package, made all the more appealing because the BiTurbo is cheap to run, too. Fuel economy stands at 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions are 134g/km – the same as for the BiTurbo’s closest rival, the Golf GTD. But the Astra’s trump card is its price, because with a starting figure of £24,095 it actually undercuts the five-door GTD by around £1,500.
And while there’s a pretty significant difference in what’s being charged, the performance margins between these two cars is very small indeed.