Vauxhall Astra (2015-2021) review
The Vauxhall Astra remains a strong contender in a talented pool of rival hatchbacks
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 range of trims, and the good value Griffin model is very well 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.
About the Vauxhall Astra
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.
It’s not just the big names like the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Honda Civic that the Astra has to battle with these days, as the crowded compact hatchback class includes an impressive roster of rivals from the sporty SEAT Leon and Mazda 3 to the more comfort and practicality focused Peugeot 308, Skoda Octavia and Renault Megane. These days, even the Kia Ceed and Hyundai i30 are dependable and well-equipped alternatives for once dyed-in-the-wool Astra fans.
Still, the Astra continues to tick 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. The Astra range includes a five-door hatchback and a revised Sports Tourer estate, so buyers seeking more space have an alternative to the British brand’s SUV offerings, too.
Car group tests
Trim levels have been reduced to just four in the current Astra line-up, namely the best-selling Griffin Edition, the Business Edition Nav, the SRi Nav and the Elite Nav Premium, but the grades are still a little bit confusing. For instance the cheapest Griffin comes very well-loaded with 18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, LED headlamps, dual-zone climate control, 7-inch touchscreen with satnav, all-round parking sensors and heated seats and steering wheel, as well as a driver assistance pack with lane keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking.
Business Edition Nav trim is more expensive but less showy thanks to smaller 16-inch alloys, and you lose the LED lighting and dual-zone climate control function. Cruise control plus automatic headlamps and wipers are on the spec list instead. SRi Nav brings back the LED headlamps and dual-zone climate control, and also gives you front fog lamps, automatic emergency braking and a sports-style driver’s seat. Elite Nav Premium has a larger 8-inch touchscreen, perforated leather seat trim inserts, an 8-inch digital dash display, the driver assistance pack and heated seats. Hot-hatch fans will be disappointed by the lack of a sporty VXR model, however.
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, and prices for the Astra start from just over £19,000, climbing to circa £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 in spite of some seriously good competition.
For an alternative review of the Vauxhall Astra, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Vauxhall Astra remains a strong contender in a talented pool of rival hatchbacks
- 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