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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Sharp looks; excellent ride; high-quality interior

Against Vague steering; wind noise; too much body roll

Verdict Classy and capable, and hefty depreciation make a used example far more appealing

Go for… 1.4T SRi

Avoid… 1.3 CDTi ecoflex SE

Vauxhall Astra Hatchback
  • 1. Classy and capable, and hefty depreciation make a used example far more appealing
  • 2. The 1.4 and 1.6-litre non-turbocharged petrol engines feel out of their depth, so the turbocharged versions are much better. Our pick is the punchy 138bhp 1.4T
  • 3. Some cars come with Vauxhall’s Flexride adaptive suspension system, but don’t pay much extra for it – it has little positive effect on the ride and handling
  • 4. The non-turbo petrol engine average between 44mpg and 51mpg, while the two turbocharged units do 49mpg or 41mpg
  • 5. The cruise control system can disengage, leading to the car decelerating without warning
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Vauxhall Astra Hatchback full review with expert trade views

This sixth-generation Astra was designed to be sporty and elegant, and it certainly feels in a different league to the previous car ('04-'09).

At launch, the Astra’s high list price meant that it didn’t compare favorably with rivals'. However, the Vauxhall’s hefty depreciation makes a second-hand model is far more appealing.

The cabin has an attractive dashboard design and decent driving position, although the thick windscreen pillars and chunky quarterlight windows restrict visibility. Despite the Astra's sporty profile, there’s good passenger space in the front and rear, along with a big boot and split-folding rear seats to accommodate larger loads.

There’s hardly any road noise, but those thick windscreen pillars create too much wind noise at motorway speeds. The diesel engines can be irritatingly boomy higher speeds, too. Ride comfort is exceptionally good, smoothing out all but the largest bumps, but vague steering and excessive body roll spoil the overall dynamics.

Trade view

Don’t pay significantly more for the 1.3-litre diesel, over the 1.7-litre version. It’s not that much more efficient.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The 1.4 and 1.6-litre non-turbocharged petrol engines feel out of their depth, so the turbocharged versions are much better. Our pick is the punchy 138bhp 1.4T, which strikes a good balance between performance and economy. The nippy 178bhp 1.6T has a 0-60mph time of less than 8.0 seconds.

Diesel options originally included a nippy 158bhp 2.0-litre and a pair of 1.7-litre units with either 108bhp or 123bhp. The smaller-capacity engines are boomy, but flexible and provide decent acceleration. The 98bhp 1.3-litre Ecoflex joined the range in early 2010, but its fuel economy is only marginally better than that of the 1.7-litre engines, and it misses out on their punch.

All Astras come with air-con, electric front windows, and an MP3 port as standard, but we’d look beyond the Expression and ES trims to the Exclusive, which adds cruise control. SE trim brings ambient interior lighting, front foglamps, alloys and electric rear windows. The SRi comes with sports suspension, which reduces the car’s body roll, but doesn’t impair the ride quality. If you want leather seats and climate control look for Elite trim.

Some cars come with Vauxhall’s Flexride adaptive suspension system, but don’t pay much extra for it – it has little positive effect on the ride and handling.

Trade view

Good looking and well finished, but it fails in too many crucial areas to be the best car in its class.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Despite costing more than a similarly equipped Volkswagen Golf when new, the Vauxhall depreciates faster – and will continue to do so on the used market. This means it’s vital to push for the best possible used price.

The non-turbo petrol engines return an average of between 44mpg and 51mpg, while the two turbocharged units do 49mpg or 41mpg. The 1.7-litre diesels both do an average of 62.8mpg, with the 1.3-litre and 2.0-litre at 68mpg and 57mpg respectively.

It’s a similar story with C02 emissions, with the less-powerful petrol engines at either 129g/km or 147g/km, and the turbo models at 138g/km or 159g/km. The diesels easily beat that, with the 1.3-litre emitting 109g/km, the 1.7-litres 119g/km and the 2.0-litre 129g/km.

Insurance costs are on par with rivals', with the range classed between groups 9 and 20. Vauxhall doesn’t have the best reliability rating, but it’s too early to tell how the Astra car will fare long term. Servicing and maintenance costs should be slightly lower than those of rivals such as the Ford Focus, but not as competitive as the VW Golf’s.

Trade view

Don’t pay significantly more for the 1.3-litre diesel, over the 1.7-litre version. It’s not that much more efficient.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Astra, owners have reported a couple of issues with the car.

The cruise control system can disengage, leading to the car decelerating without warning. This is due to a fault with parking brake sensor, which also causes the brake lights to flicker. The electronic parking brake, on SE models and beyond, has also caused problems for some owners, apparently disengaging with a slight blip of the throttle even when in neutral.

There have been two recalls to date on the Astra. The first involved a malfunction on the anti-trap mechanism for the electric windows, while the other centred on faulty bolts on the front passenger seat. Make sure both faults have been addressed, particularly the latter because of the safety implications.

The boot also appears susceptible to water leaks, so check the carpet for damp patches and don’t forget to look in the spare wheel well.

Trade view

Good looking and well finished, but it fails in too many crucial areas to be the best car in its class.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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