New Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo diesel 2016 review
Our verdict on the new, more potent diesel Astra - is it worth the extra money?
The new BiTurbo engine in the Vauxhall Astra is a great choice, with plenty of power and good claimed economy of 67.3mpg. It costs more to buy and run than the 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel, though, so for most, the cheaper price will swing the deal in favour of the lower-power engine. The BiTurbo makes much more sense in the Sports Tourer estate, whose owners are more likely to need a little extra shove to tackle a heavy load in the boot or even a trailer on the back.
Along with the latest Astra Sports Tourer estate car, Vauxhall has added another engine to the family hatchback's lineup. The latest BiTurbo engine is a 1.6-litre twin-turbo diesel unit with 158bhp - which you may have seen gracing the latest Vivaro panel van, but it's a new engine for the Astra.
The BiTurbo impresses straight away, as it’s quiet at low revs, complementing the Astra’s relaxed low-speed ride. Peak torque of 350Nm arrives at just over 1,500rpm, so you can change up early without worry, which should help you get closer to the claimed economy figure of 67.3mpg. Emissions of 111g/km aren’t bad, either, and mean road tax costs just £30 a year.
Once you get out of town and on to a twistier road, you’ll find the BiTurbo is just as good at pressing on. Peak power comes in at 4,000rpm, and unusually for a diesel, it feels reasonably eager to rev that high, without sounding rattly or harsh – it’s much more pleasant to rev than the equivalent Volkswagen Golf 2.0-litre diesel. The Astra is extremely flexible and easy to drive, so overtaking is a breeze – making the most of the more entertaining chassis.
Like all Astras, this BiTurbo is good to drive, feeling planted in fast corners, with little body roll. While the suspension set-up is firm, it’s not uncomfortable, even on bumpy roads, and the car rides smoothly at high speed. The steering lacks feel, but the weighting is good, and as the Astra is lighter than before, it certainly feels more agile.
The key question, though, is how much more the BiTurbo offers over the lower-powered 134bhp diesel? That engine is more economical, cheaper and nearly as torquey, so for most people, it’s the smarter choice. But if you’re after an Astra with a bit more grunt, the BiTurbo makes sense, working well in the bulkier Sports Tourer.
The cabin is great, with high-quality materials, comfortable seats and an intuitive touchscreen display for the sat-nav and infotainment features. On this Elite Nav model, you also get OnStar, which includes phone services like an emergency caller in the event of a crash and a remote concierge service at the touch of a button.
It represents good value when you put it next to premium rivals like the Golf, plus the Astra’s more attractive exterior means you don’t feel short-changed in the style department, either.