The Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer is one of those ‘almost’ cars. It’s spacious and practical, it’s comfortable, and it looks good both inside and out.
However, it’s always been let down by engines that are too costly to run, a vague driving experience and an overly complex cabin design.
That’s where this new 1.6 CDTi model comes in. It has 108bhp and 221lb ft of torque, and it also emits just 97g/km of CO2, which will make it very attractive to the business market.
What’s the 2014 Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer like to drive?
The new 1.6-litre diesel engine is certainly a step forward from the old 1.7-litre unit. It pulls strongly from around 1600rpm and feels fairly keen to rev, too. There’s little need to extend it, though, because it’s more than fast enough at the sort of middling revs most people use.
The gearbox is typical of Vauxhall shifts – it’s slightly long-winded and heavy, but there’s little chance of you sticking it into the wrong gear by mistake.
The fact that you rarely need to work this engine hard to make progress also pays full dividends in fuel economy. The Government figures suggest that it’ll do an average of 76.3mpg, which is more than decent for an estate car of such generous dimensions.
Little else has changed in the driving experience, though. So the ride is comfortable, the noise levels are pretty low (apart from a bit of wind noise on the motorway) and the steering is disappointingly vague. There’s also a bit too much body movement around corners.
What’s the 2014 Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer like inside?
The Astra has always made a good estate. There’s plenty of space in the boot, which is also a good, even, rectangular shape. It’s easily a match for rivals such as the Ford Focus Estate, although the current Volkswagen Golf Estate is significantly bigger.
The rear seats fold down flat, though, and you can even lift out the rear-seat bases to give even more space. Passenger space is perfectly reasonable, whether you’re up front or consigned to the back.
Visibility isn’t great out of the front or rear, however.
The Astra’s interior looks quite high-tech too, although ‘high-tech’ doesn’t seem to equate to ‘user-friendly’, because the dashboard can be difficult to decipher on the move. There are so many buttons that it’s tricky to find the one you want at a glance, and the infotainment system on our car seemed intent on confounding our efforts to change radios stations or set a destination in the sat-nav.
Should I buy one?
This model of Astra is undeniably a fairly competitive proposition. It drives well, it’s economical, and that sub-100g/km CO2 output makes it attractive if you’re a business user.
The boot is a good size, and the seats are easy to fold, while there’s plenty of cabin space, too.
The Astra stacks up well against rivals such as the Seat Leon ST and Volkswagen Golf Estate. It’s much of a muchness for carrying capacity and it’s virtually as efficient as both.
In Tech Line trim its price and equipment help tip the balance even further, because it’s cheaper than its rivals and features Bluetooth, DAB and satellite-navigation as standard.
That’s why this particular Astra Sports Tourer is not so much an ‘almost’ car, and is virtually bang on if you need a cheap, efficient and spacious estate car.
What Car? says...
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £19,930
Torque 221lb ft
Top speed 115mph
Fuel economy 76.3mpg