Vauxhall Astra Elite review

How does Vauxhall's impressive new Astra shape-up in top-spec Elite trim with 1.4-litre turbo petrol power?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The new Astra is a seriously worthy front runner for the family hatchback class, and is a real shining star in Vauxhall’s otherwise rather staid image. It looks great, drives better than ever and the cabin execution is top notch. It drops a star with this engine due to its so-so efficiency compared to rivals, but if you don’t want a diesel it’s still a good choice.

It’s been a while since a new Vauxhall has come along and disrupted the class order, but it seems the new, seventh-generation Vauxhall Astra has done just that. It’s impressed us as an overall package in both diesel and 1.0 turbo petrol form, but how does the mid-range 148bhp 1.4-litre turbo stack up? Like most manufacturers, Vauxhall  considers the 1.6 CDTi diesel to be the biggest seller in the UK even in lightof current events. But there are plenty of people with an aversion to oil-burners, hence why the Luton firm is offering as many petrols as diesels in the range.  The 1.4-litre unit is available in 123bhp or 148bhp forms, with the latter both faster and more efficient than any non-VXR petrol offered in the previous Astra.

Best hatchbacks to buy now  That’s a big achievement, and it’s mostly thanks to nearly 200kg being shaved off the kerbweight of this new platform. Banishing the image of the rather lardy previous model, it actually manages to be smaller in external size yet offer more interior space.

 The 1.4-litre turbo is as refined as you’d expect from a four-cylinder petrol, and pulls strongly from low down in the rev range thanks to a decent 235Nm of torque and less weight to pull. It’s more about relaxed mid-range progress rather than high-rev action, as the unit sounds a bit strained past 5,000rpm and doesn’t reward with much extra shove. The VW-Group’s 1.4 TSI feels a bit more willing to rev and Ford’s 1.5T Ecoboost sounds more characterful, but the latter can’t match the Vauxhall for smoothness. The extra power also suits the Astra’s newfound enthusiasm for corners. The ride and handling balance is as good as you’ll find anywhere else in the class, with strong grip levels and a tied-down, planted feel. The steering isn’t brimming with feel and the ride has a slightly firm edge to it, but the same minor points can be levelled at the SEAT Leon.

 Where the Astra 1.4 T does fall behind a bit is in overall efficiency, despite the improvement over the old car. A combined economy figure of 51.4mpg is perfectly good, but CO2 emissions of 128g/km fall short of the SEAT Leon 1.4 TSI  – the Leon is as much as 18g/km cleaner when fitted with cylinder deactivation tech.   Elsewhere it’s business as usual, which means sharp looks, a classy-feeling and spacious cabin and strong kit levels. It’s way ahead of the Ford Focus in terms of fit and finish, and the superb 8.0-inch touchscreen is amongst the slickest we’ve come across under £30k.  Our Elite Nav spec model comes in at a reasonable £20,315, with standard kit such as satnav with Apple CarPlay connectivity, heated front and rear leather seats, and Vauxhall’s OnStar concierge system with 4G Wi-Fi hotspot.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Exclusive: Jaguar’s luxury reinvention to start from £100k
Thierry Bollore - Jaguar I-Pace
Jaguar

Exclusive: Jaguar’s luxury reinvention to start from £100k

New boss Thierry Bollore reveals that Jaguar will be reinvented as a luxury car brand to take on Bentley, with the design of a new family already sign…
22 Jun 2021
‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’
opinion: charging
Opinion

‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’

Andy Palmer sees electric car uptake revving-up in the UK but says targeted investment is needed to prevent a stall…
22 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 2021 review
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 - front
Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback

New Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 2021 review

The new special edition Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 is one of the best cars ever to wear the GTI badge
23 Jun 2021
New 2021 Ferrari 296 GTB launched with 819bhp V6 hybrid powertrain
Ferrari 296 GTB - front
Ferrari

New 2021 Ferrari 296 GTB launched with 819bhp V6 hybrid powertrain

The 205mph Ferrari 296 GTB supercar is powered by an all-new 2.9-litre plug-in hybrid engine
24 Jun 2021
New 2022 Honda Civic hatchback revealed with hybrid power
Honda Civic - front
Honda Civic

New 2022 Honda Civic hatchback revealed with hybrid power

New Honda Civic hatchback builds on almost 50 years of the nameplate with e:HEV electrified drivetrain
24 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback -
Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback

New Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback 2021 review

Audi has expanded its electric car portfolio with the Q4 e-tron Sportback - is it one of its best EVs?
23 Jun 2021
New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech
Dacia Duster facelift - front
Dacia Duster

New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech

The budget-conscious Dacia Duster has been updated for 2021 with some subtle design tweaks and a new eight-inch infotainment screen
22 Jun 2021
New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review

The new Mercedes C-Class compact exec gets S-Class-inspired tech and new suspension to challenge the BMW 3 Series
24 Jun 2021
Audi will launch final petrol and diesel cars in 2026
Audi petrol diesel
Audi

Audi will launch final petrol and diesel cars in 2026

Audi will phase out petrol power in Europe in 12 years’ time, with a new line-up of “more than 20 e-tron models” scheduled for launch by 2025
23 Jun 2021
New Toyota Yaris Cross prototype review
Toyota Yaris Cross prototype - front
Toyota Yaris Cross

New Toyota Yaris Cross prototype review

We drive a late prototype version of the new Toyota Yaris Cross to see if it has potential
24 Jun 2021
New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space
Peugeot 308 SW - front
News

New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space

The Peugeot 308 SW joins the hatchback in the range and arrives with two plug-in hybrid options
22 Jun 2021
'Bolloré's strategy is already having a good impact on Jaguar Land Rover'
Opinion JLR Thierry Bollore
Opinion

'Bolloré's strategy is already having a good impact on Jaguar Land Rover'

Steve Fowler says JLR CEO Thierry Bolloré's new approach is working wonders
24 Jun 2021
New Ferrari Portofino M 2021 review
Ferrari Portofino M - front tracking
Ferrari Portofino

New Ferrari Portofino M 2021 review

Have updates have made the drop-top Ferrari Portofino M better than ever? We find out...
22 Jun 2021