2016 Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.0i 105 Turbo EcoFlex review

The 1.0-litre Astra Sports Tourer impressed us when we drove it recently in France. Does it perform as well on our challenging UK roads?...

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John Howell
18 March 2016

2016 Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.0i 105 Turbo EcoFlex review

The latest Vauxhall Astra hatchback has proved a welcome improvement over the previous model, and this new Sports Tourer Estate version adds even more practicality to the mix.

Like the hatchback, it’s similar in size to the old model on the outside, but thoughtful packaging means it’s gained more space for passengers and luggage. Being up to 190kg lighter than before, this 104bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol version also delivers impressive fuel economy and emissions, which is good news for private and company car buyers alike.

Prices start from as little as £17,285 in entry-level Design trim, and it’s on sale now. 

What’s the 2016 Vauxhall Astra 1.0i 105 Turbo EcoFlex like to drive?

Only a few years ago, fitting a 1.0-litre engine in a car this size might have seemed insane, but in the Astra Sports Tourer, it makes a lot of sense.

It feels brisker than a Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost Estate, and when you work it hard it’s happy to rev out and get you to motorway speeds swiftly enough. Crucially, especially for real-world fuel economy, it’s got enough pulling power in the low and mid-ranges to mean you don’t have to thrash it continually to keep up with traffic. Driving steadily on a mix of slow and medium speed urban roads, we managed to get a respectable 47.0mpg although heavier use of the throttle will result in the figure dropping below 40mpg.

For a three-cylinder engine, it is pretty smooth too. Even though you can only have it with a five-speed manual gearbox, it cruises quietly and sends very few vibrations through to the cabin. The Sports Tourer is also pretty refined elsewhere, with wind and road noise present but not distracting at speed. That said, it’s not quite as good as the hatchback, with the odd rattle from the rear seat area on patchy surfaces.

The handling, on the other hand, seems largely unaffected by opening up the rear. The Sports Tourer turns in keenly and the body stays well controlled through tighter corners; even adverse cambers and mid-bend bumps fail to create much of an issue. Compared with the diesel models, it feels lighter on its feet and more eager to turn in to a corner.

On SRi versions you can adjust the steering’s weight, although the standard lighter setting feels best whether you're in town or on the open road. Unfortunately, neither setting provides much feedback through the steering wheel, which along with the vague feeling brake pedal, makes the Astra harder to drive smoothly than a Focus.

With lighter engines, our experience is that the petrol Astras ride slightly better than the diesels, and that’s the case here. The Sports Tourer deals with most imperfections admirably, although you still get a thump through the cabin over a sharp ridge or vicious pothole.

What’s the 2016 Vauxhall Astra 1.0i 105 Turbo like inside?

All that talk of extra interior space plays out in practice, as the Astra Sports Tourer feels far roomier than a Ford Focus Estate inside, but it falls a bit short of the Skoda Octavia Estate, which offers up 610 litres of boot space (claimed) compared with the Astra’s 500. Still, the Astra’s boot is conveniently squared-off, the floor is flush with the low load lip, and dropping the 60/40 split rear seats extends the boot floor without leaving a step.

It’s just a shame that there’s no through-loading hatch in the back seats (which would mean you could load a long item into the rear passenger space and still seat four people), and you have to pay £95 to get hooks in the boot, both of which are standard fit to plenty of rivals. You also can’t get a variable-height boot floor or underfloor storage space.

Even if you are of above average height there’s plenty of room in the front seats, and the range of adjustment, including from the steering wheel, should enable you to find a fine driving position. Only the top Elite trim gets electric lumbar adjustment as standard; it’s worth adding as an option (£250) further down the range if you want the seats to be as supportive as possible.

Front and rear parking sensors (£450) are another valuable option because the sculpted design of the rear pillars really hampers your vision around the rear corners. Rear seat passengers get a decent view out though, and lots of space thanks to the excellent head and leg room, which rivals that of the Octavia. Some will find the lack of a central rear armrest annoying, though.

Standard equipment is generous and includes cruise control, air-con, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and a 7.0in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink, even on the entry-level Design trim. However, we’d suggest going for the Tech Line trim, which adds an 8.0in screen and sat-nav. SRi models gain bigger wheels and OnStar, which adds a number of features including an SOS response and onboard wi-fi, plus emergency city braking. Elite trim adds luxuries such as front and rear heated leather seats.

Should I buy one?

Yes, you should. The emissions and fuel consumption make it a workable alternative to a diesel if you’re a company or private buyer, although bear in mind that it won’t be as efficient or flexible as the torquier diesels when loaded to the gunnels.

The Astra Sports Tourer also stacks up against its rivals on equipment and costs. The equivalent petrol Octavia 1.2 TSI SE Estate costs nearly as much as the Astra in Tech Line trim, but it’s not as efficient and you don’t get a sat-nav as standard. Meanwhile, the Focus 1.0 100 Zetec Estate is slower and will cost you another £1500, or £2000 more if you go for the more powerful 1.0 125 version.

What Car? says...

The rivals:

Ford Focus Estate

Skoda Octavia Estate

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.0T 105 Tech LineEngine size 1.0-litre petrolPrice from £17,985Power 104bhpTorque 125lb ft0-62mph 11.0 secondsTop speed 121mphFuel economy 65.7mpgCO2 100g/km