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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Taut handling, fine refinement and practicality

Against Conservative styling inside and out; no diesel

Verdict It's hardly exciting, but as a genuine four-seater, it does make a lot of sense

Go for… 2.2

Avoid… 1.6

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Vauxhall Astra Convertible full review with expert trade views

When the Astra Coupe lost its head to become the Astra Convertible it managed to retain the hard-top's fine driving characteristics. It has precise steering and taut body control, but the ride is firm. The styling - by Italian design house Bertone - is best described as elegant yet conservative. The Astra isn't as cute a Beetle or Mini, but it’s bigger and more practical, a genuine four-seater with the hood up or down.

Everyone gets plenty of room and, with the top down (which can be done remotely with a button on the key), you should be fairly well protected from the wind. Even boot space is good for a convertible and not compromised by having to leave room for the roof.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Practical and a very good value used buy. 1.8 best all rounder and for value

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The Convertible has a choice of four petrol engines. The 123bhp 1.8-litre has enough power to feel nippy, while the 2.2 with 144bhp has plenty of oomph and is great on twisty roads. The 2.0-litre turbo delivers near-150mph performance, but for those who prefer a slower pace there is a 1.6 with 99bhp. The only auto option was on the 2.2-litre, but it's no more than competent.

The 2.2 is probably the best all-rounder. It has much better performance than the 1.8, but its fuel economy and used prices are very similar.

Whichever you go for, you won't be short of kit. Alloy wheels, air-con, anti-lock brakes, front airbags, electric windows and roof and a CD player are standard on all models.

All but the 1.6 have traction control as standard and the 2.0T and 2.2 add cruise control and a CD multi-changer. Later cars generally have more kit, so they're worth seeking out.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Easy to retail at any time of year, 1.8 is well specced and good value

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Astra is cheap to buy and run, although there is a price to pay in the sense that it doesn’t have the image of some of its rivals.

If you don't mind that, you'll appreciate the decent economy. The slow 1.6 gives 42mpg, with the 1.8 and 2.0 Turbo delivering 35mpg and 31mpg respectively. The 2.2-litre returns 34mpg.

You won't be stung for insurance, either. The 1.6 starts in group 9 and the Turbo falls into group 16, with the 1.8 and 2.2 between the two extremes in groups 11 and 13, respectively.

Servicing is every 10,000 miles and although Vauxhall dealers are generally good value, independent garages should be up to the challenge, and a fair bit cheaper. Every engine (except the chain-driven 2.2) requires its timing belt changed every 40,000 miles, so don’t forget to budget for this - or buy a car where the work has already been done.

Finally, don't worry too much about unscheduled work. Warranty Direct says Astras have a reasonable reliability rating and low average cost of repairs.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Practical and a very good value used buy. 1.8 best all rounder and for value

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

On the whole, the Astra is reliable, and the good news is that the electric hood is very reliable. However, there are a few things to look out for.

Above all, make sure the timing belt has been changed according to schedule and be aware that the power steering pump can fail on high-mileage examples. The exhaust manifold on the 1.8-litre is also known to crack – an expensive job to fix as it means replacing the catalytic converter.

If air-con is fitted, make sure it blows cold as the system is known to be weak. Also check the front carpets for damp – it can get in through the ventilation system - and look for uneven tyre wear, which is a sign of possible suspension misalignment.

Finally, there have been a couple of small recalls on the Astra, but these aren’t drastic and a dealer should be able to tell you if they’ve been carried out.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Easy to retail at any time of year, 1.8 is well specced and good value

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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