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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Supple ride; composed handling; strong engines

Against Narrow boot opening; dowdy image

Verdict Outclassed by rivals, but still great value

Go for… 1.6 Club 5dr

Avoid… 2.0 T (200) SRi

Vauxhall Astra Hatchback
  • 1. On SRI and VXR cars, check for uneven tyre wear and signs of crash damage
  • 2. On diesels, listen for engine noises that could indicate that the oil level has been allowed to drop too low
  • 3. On five-door cars, the cabin is comfortable, spacious and family-orientated
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Vauxhall Astra Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The five-door Astra is comfortable, spacious and decent to drive. However, if you fancy something more exciting, the three-door Sport Hatch has agressive looks, stiffer suspension and better handling.

Both versions are good cruisers, although the Sport Hatch has more wind noise at motorway speeds. All the petrol engines are refined, but the diesels are grumbly around town, although they do quieten down at motorway speeds.

The cabin is well-designed and built with high-quality materials. There’s enough space for a family of five at a push, although some rivals have more legroom. The boot is a generous size, but the tapered design of the tailgate means it can be difficult to load.

The Astra comes with a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, and Club models upwards get curtain airbags fitted as standard. However, only the top models have stability control.

Trade view

The 113bhp, 1.6-litre petrol model will suit most buyers, while Club trim is the ace of the range.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Our favourite engine is the 113bhp 1.6-litre petrol that was introduced towards the end of 2006. There is an earlier version, but it has only 104bhp and feels noticeably slower. There’s also an 89bhp a 1.4-litre petrol model, and a 1.8-litre with between 123bhp and 138bhp – but they’re not substantially better. There are a few turbocharged petrol engines to consider: the 178bhp 1.6-litre, the 196bhp 2.0-litre and the VXR with 237bhp.

Of the three diesels available, we’d go for the punchy 1.9-litre with either 118bhp or 148bhp. The 1.7-litre engine with between 79bhp and 100bhp isn’t bad and the 89bhp 1.3-litre is surprisingly capable. In mid 2008, the frugal ecoFLEX model was introduced to bring improved mpg and lower CO2 emissions.

There’s a long list of trims available, but the Club is a safe bet. It comes with alloys, air-con and curtain airbags, but the rarer Design adds luxuries such as leather trim and electric rear windows. If you fancy spoiling yourself, the Elite brings climate control and leather upholstery, while the sporty SXi/SRi comes with lowered suspension and racy styling details.

The whole Astra range underwent a face-lift in late 2006, with a new front grille, headlight surrounds and rear light clusters, along with a host of interior design tweaks.

Trade view

A no-frills and cost-effective small family hatchback.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The great thing about Astras is that they're affordable, and you shouldn’t be in for a shock when it comes to running costs.

The diesels use less fuel, but will cost more to buy in the first place. The 1.3-litre averages 58.8mpg and emits 130g/km, but the 100bhp 1.7-litre isn’t far behind at 56.4mpg and 135g/km. The 1.9-litre averages 47.8mpg and 159g/km, but the most efficient of all is the 1.7-litre ecoFlex, at 62.8mpg and 119g/km.

The petrol models will suit those who cover fewer miles. The 113bhp 1.6-litre petrol model averages 43.5mpg and 156g/km of CO2, with the 1.4-litre just in front at 44.8mpg and 151g/km. The 1.8-litre model is noticeably less efficient with average economy of 38.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 175g/km.

Insurance ranges from a reasonable group 9 for the low-powered petrol cars, through to 32 for the turbo models. Servicing and repair costs are low, and parts are readily available.

Steep depreciation was always an issue when buying the Astra new, but cars will have already passed though the painful years, so buy at a fair price and it shouldn’t be a concern.

Trade view

The 113bhp, 1.6-litre petrol model will suit most buyers, while Club trim is the ace of the range.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

This generation of Astra has proved durable, and usually sits near the top of the reliability league table. However, there are some problems to be aware of.

Axle and suspension issues and electrical faults are the most common complaints. The front suspension bushes can wear quickly, the instrument cluster can give false readings and electric windows have been known to fail.

A known clutch issue on both petrol and diesel models means it can be difficult to pull away smoothly. A dealer should be able to fix this with modified parts.

The 1.9-litre diesel appears the least reliable with engine problems and excess smoke. The water-pump system can also fail, wrecking the engine, so it needs to be checked every 50,000 miles. Where fitted, timing belts need changing every 40,000 miles to avoid the possibility of a catastrophic engine failure.

Trade view

A no-frills and cost-effective small family hatchback.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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