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Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer diesel 2016 review

Whisper diesel is a good fit for classy new Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Although the previous Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer didn’t really stand out in any one area, the latest model is right up there with the class leaders. The 1.6-litre CDTi diesel is the best compromise between economy and performance, while only the slightly firm ride lets down the driving experience. Some rivals have bigger boots, but in terms of passenger space and tech, the Vauxhall is hard to beat.

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Finishing third might net you a medal in the Olympics, but in the motor industry, that just isn’t good enough. Vauxhall’s outgoing Astra Sports Tourer is the third most popular mid-size estate in the UK, behind the load-lugging Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. So for the all-new model, the brand has pulled out all the stops.

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We’ve already tested the Sports Tourer with the 1.0-litre turbo engine, but as fleet buyers will make up around 80 per cent of sales in this class, this mid-spec Whisper diesel should be the big seller.

It delivers 134bhp and 320Nm of torque – considerably more than the equivalent Golf or Focus – yet is just as frugal as its rivals. The old Astra’s performance advantage was hindered by its lardy body, but the new model is 130kg lighter than before.

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The 1.6 feels notably more responsive, and you could easily mistake it for a larger 2.0-litre. It won’t set your world alight, but what matters is that when the Astra is loaded up with luggage, it doesn’t feel underpowered. While it’s not quite as quiet as Vauxhall would have you believe, the noise is reduced to a more petrol-like hum.

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Like the hatch, the Sports Tourer is up there with the best in terms of handling. Steering is direct, body control is good and there’s lots of grip. Brake feel is more progressive than the hatch but still not perfect, and the ride on 17-inch alloys is a bit firm. Road noise isn’t as well suppressed as in the Golf, either.

Don’t think the Astra’s diet has meant a sacrifice in interior space, though. Exterior dimensions are similar to before, although there’s nearly 30mm more legroom in the back, and the boot (540 litres with the seats up and 1,630 litres when they’re folded) is quite a lot roomier than before. Rivals like the Skoda Octavia and Honda Civic offer even bigger load areas, but the Astra has the measure of the Focus Estate. And while there’s no underfloor storage, you do get a space-saver spare wheel in its place. 

The cabin has plenty of tech and high-quality materials. The infotainment system is slick, plus the OnStar concierge service, sat-nav and Wi-Fi add a layer of polish that makes the Astra feel bang up to date.

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