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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For A comfortable and cheap way to transport a reasonable amount of gear

Against It's tight in the cabin and all models lack basic safety kit

Verdict A cost-effective, if unexciting, way to move your bits and bobs here and there

Go for… 1.6 16v Club

Avoid… 1.7 TD and 2.0 Di

Vauxhall Astra Estate
  • 1. Ensure that the cambelt has been changed every 40,000 miles
  • 2. Check for damp in footwells
  • 3. Rear cabin space is very good, with plenty of legroom
  • 4. The boot is pretty decent, albeit with a little wheelarch intrusion
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Vauxhall Astra Estate full review with expert trade views

You wouldn't go cruising for wolf whistles in this Astra estate, but if it's a cheap load carrier you're after, it isn't bad.

Although the boot isn't as big as the Ford Focus's (which certainly isn't the class-leader, either), it's not far off. However, what's more of a problem is that the loadbay isn't quite as usable as the Ford's, with some wheelarch and suspension intrusion. However, both the loading height and width are respectable.

On the road, the Vauxhall again falls a little short of the Focus – but only a little, and that's better than most. If you want it to be entertaining, the Astra can deliver, and it's also a comfortable companion on a long motorway journey, too.

More disappointing is the cabin: its styling is functional rather than funky, and it'll be almost fully filled by four people. Five adults only fit at a pinch.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Roomy, practical and good value, which makes these a sensible buy

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

The first rule of Astra buying is: take your time picking a car, and be choosey - Astras are available everywhere.

There's also a wealth of engines and trims to wade through, so forget the entry-level 1.4 and eight-valve 1.6 petrols straight away. We'd also avoid the stone-age 1.7 diesels and the 2.0Di.

That leaves the 1.6 16v (a really good all-rounder, and the best balance of price and performance), the nippy 1.8, or super-quick 143bhp 2.2 (from June 2002 on) if you want a petrol model. The 2.0 DTi and later CDTi are the best of a relatively poor bunch of diesels.

In terms of equipment, the newer the model you buy, the more it's likely to get, because, as with engines, improvements were made over the years. Envoys have virtually nothing, LSs are reasonably well catered for, but you'll need a Club or Comfort if you want to be sure of getting air-conditioning.

CD and CDX add more toys, and were available up to 2001. Even more highly specified Elegance cars took their place in 2002.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Lots of choice, diesels retail best but also 1.6 petrol Club or Comfort

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Huge depreciation from new is great for used car buyers and means the Astra estate can be bought for an absolute song.

Most running costs should keep you humming along happily, too. Our favourite 1.6 delivers excellent economy and a nice, low group 5 insurance rating.

There's a slightly bigger than expected jump up in insurance with the 1.8, but fuel consumption is still good. Budget carefully with the 2.2, though, as it has a bit of a thirst and hefty insurance costs.

Economy on the early diesel models is disappointing, but the later CDTi cars are much better and insurance costs for all of them are par for the course.

Maintenance is the only real slight problem. While an Astra might be cheaper to buy than a Focus, servicing can be higher. Typical repair bills are also a little up on the average, mainly down to the cost of parts.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Roomy, practical and good value, which makes these a sensible buy

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

One of the most important checks you can do on any Astra is to ensure that the cambelt has been changed on time. This is needed a lot sooner than in many other models (every 40,000 miles), so some owners might have been tempted to not bother - especially once their car was three years old. If it fails, you'll be left with a big repair bill.

Other than that, the only thing to look out for are electrical problems, which are the most common cause of failure in the car. And, there has been just one safety-related recall - many, many less than most rivals. The recall was to ensure that brake fluid hadn't become contaminated, but it affected fewer than 2500 cars.

For the most part, though, our reliability survey shows the Astra is generally pretty sound. However, you may be a little put off by the fact that Astra owners aren't as happy with their cars as Ford Focus buyers, according to JD Power surveys.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Lots of choice, diesels retail best but also 1.6 petrol Club or Comfort

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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