New Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer estate review
Estate version of the highly rated Vauxhall Astra hatchback proves equally impressive
In a class that’s all about space, The Astra Sports Tourer estate falls behind roomier rivals like the Skoda Octavia Estate. However, it’s a successful conversion from the impressive Astra hatch, as it’s just as good to drive, almost as economical and certainly more practical. The 1.0-litre engine in our test car feels a little underpowered for its job, but most of the time it’s adequate – and there are plenty of other, more potent engines to choose from if you need the extra shove.
The new Vauxhall Astra hatchback is one of the finest cars in its class, as it’s fun to drive, practical, economical and good value. Now we’ve had the chance to drive the Sports Tourer estate version, which promises to offer the best of the hatch but with even more space and versatility.
While the nose of the standard Astra and the neat creases down the side of the body survive the estate transformation, the roof is marked by a sloping chrome strip that separates it from the shoulderline. It looks a little awkward, but for most it won’t detract from what is a handsome car.
The most important aspect of an estate is boot space, which means most buyers will be more interested in what’s under the hatch rather than how it looks from the outside. The opening is a useful square shape and there’s no load lip, so sliding big objects in is simple. Plus, as the rear seats split 40:20:40 and fold down easily, there’s plenty of flexibility. However, a well for the spare wheel means there’s no underfloor storage.
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On top of that, the Astra Sports Tourer can’t compete with its rivals in terms of sheer space. While a 540-litre boot is bigger than the previous Astra estate’s, it falls behind the Skoda Octavia Estate’s massive 610-litre load area. The Honda Civic Tourer beats them both, with 624 litres of room.
Fold the seats down, and you’ll free up 1,630 litres of space in the Astra, although that’s still smaller than the Skoda’s 1,740-litre capacity. The Vauxhall finds itself somewhere in the middle of the class in terms of space, as it beats the Ford Focus Estate’s 1,502-litre load area.
If you’re planning to transport people rather than cargo, the news is better, as there’s plenty of leg and headroom in the back – even with the front seats set up for a tall driver and passenger. Just like the hatch, the Sports Tourer is available with a solid range of petrol and diesel engines, and our 1.0-litre three-cylinder test car is the best of the petrol range when it comes to economy. However, the 62.8mpg and 103g/km CO2 emissions of our SRi Nav model can’t match the sub-100g/km hatch version’s.
The Astra is a strong performer as it delivers its 170Nm of torque from 1,800rpm all the way to 4,250rpm. That means you don’t need to work the engine hard to keep up on faster roads. It’s fine when you do, though, as the little 1.0-litre doesn’t sound too strained at high revs.
Yet load the boot up, and the engine starts to struggle. The 0-60mph time of 11 seconds is already slower than the standard Astra’s, but given that estate cars are likely to be carrying much heavier loads, it makes more sense to choose a more powerful engine like the new BiTurbo diesel. Whichever engine you go for, the Astra offers a fine balance between relaxed and quiet cruising, while still being good to drive.
The suspension is firm enough to prevent body roll being an issue, but not so firm that it becomes uncomfortable, while in town it’s very quiet. At higher speeds, you can start to hear some wind and road noise, but the Sports Tourer is only marginally louder than the hatch – and you’d have to drive them back-to-back to notice a difference at all.
Value for money is another strong point for the Astra, and the Sports Tourer is no different. This SRi Nav model costs just over £20,000, and it includes 17-inch alloys, sat-nav, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, hill start assist, LED running lights and Vauxhall’s OnStar concierge service with 12 months of free in-car Wi-Fi. You also get a Sport button, although it doesn’t make much difference to the driving experience.