I'm very pleased with the new Astra - we get 60mpg on a long trip and always around 52mpg as an average - though if driven hard it comes down to under 50 mpg. It handles very well and looks a storm.
Just taken delivery of the Astra, having been drawn to the model by its bold new look, which is certainly more attractive than the staid appearance of the new Focus and same-again Golf.
Dynamically, the car is a revelation, and certainly worthy of comparison with anything else in the class. Vauxhall has achieved a fine ride/handling balance and injected the car with character that was sorely absent in the previous generation Astra.
The gearchange - traditionally a weakness for Vauxhalls - is positive, as is the slickness of the other major controls.
Drawbacks are few. The CDTI performs with gusto, although it never really manages to hide its diesel origins around town, with a permanent rattle in the background. The infuriating one-touch indicator and wiper stalks are distracting, and further black marks are earned for the fiddly stereo design and low positioning of the heating controls. Vauxhall should look to Ford for lessons in how to sort cabin ergonomics.
These foibles apart, the new Astra is a cracker. Satisfying to drive, own and look at, it is snapping at the heels of the class leaders. Forget the previous version - try this.
This car, I believe, has a very poor quality radio, with the worst reception I have encountered.
With no manual override to turn on the air recyclling permanently, it defaulted to open. I had to remember to push the button each time I started the engine. Most of the time, I only realised it after the exhaust smoke from the car in front entered the cabin.
The horn is too soft, and I think a potential safety issue.
The engine is good and quite responsive.
Having driven a Rover derivative for all my driving life of nearly 50 years the Vauxhall is my first car away from the marque.
I find the Astra a real "Breeze" to drive. It feels like you are driving a much larger car. The levels of quietness are a real joy.
Comfort over a long distance is also a strong point. I would recommend the vehicle with confidence to any discerning motorist.
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