Vauxhall Astra TwinTop review (2006-2011)
The Astra TwinTop is capable and desirable. Cheap to buy and run, it's an enjoyable drive too, if not as good as VW's class-leading Eos.
Driving: Cruising is what coupe-cabrios were designed for and, with its larger engine options, this one is a natural. The 1.9-litre CDTi common-rail diesel is particularly accommodating, with respectable power and six well-spaced (if notchy) gears. You won't find it short on performance and it's smooth, flexible and refined, too. In contrast, the 2.0-litre turbo petrol never feels as punchy or responsive as you'd think with 200bhp, with noticeable turbo lag. We detected more than a hint of torque steer through slow corners, too. More generally though, the TwinTop has wonderfully intuitive road manners. The steering is accurate and well weighted, the gearshift precise and the handling predictable without sending you to sleep. In fact, Vauxhall has managed to create a model with no major vices. The ride is supple and forgiving, while road noise and scuttle shake are kept at bay too. Buffeting is minimal, particularly when fitted with the £150 optional windbreak.
Marketplace: The TwinTop is the most handsome car in its class, with well-balanced proportions, a pert rear end and sophisticated detailing. The three-piece folding metal roof has a fussy mechanism but can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 18mph. The most popular model looks set to be the 1.9-litre turbodiesel, but there is an extensive range of petrol engines too, from 1.6-litre to 2.0-litre turbo variants. Buyers can also choose from Design or Sport trims. The Vauxhall seems keenly priced alongside competitors too, with an impressive level of standard kit. These rivals include the Renault Megane CC, Peugeot 307 CC, Volkswagen Eos and the Ford Focus CC. Furthermore, so classy is the Twintop, we'd also consider Volvo's more expensive C70 a rival.
Owning: The interior layout is as well executed as the outside. A splash of colour to break up the greys and blacks wouldn't go amiss, but there's no questioning the amount of thought that has gone into its design. The centre console is easy to use, with large buttons and nicely weighted switchgear that gives the car an upmarket feel. Supportive seats complement a low driving position, and long journeys can be completed without discomfort. The rear seats are spacious by coupe-cabrio standards, with a substantial kneeroom advantage. Yet adults will still find it a squeeze for all but short journeys. The boot is a fair size and Vauxhall has solved the traditional problem of roof-down access by installing a handy device called EasyLoad. Press a button on the rear sill and the decks lifts by 25cm, making it easy to get a large bag in or out. Safety is boosted by Vauxhall's innovative Active Rollover Protection system, which detects when rollovers are imminent, tightening the seatbelts and flipping up two safety bars behind the rear seats. And the car's broad range of talents has lead to a very strong predicted retained value - coupled with low servicing costs and, on most models, decent economy, the TwinTop shouldn't break the bank. Indeed, only insurance ratings look high alongside rivals, though the 2.0-litre turbo petrol's 23mpg average economy is far from brilliant.