The latest Vauxhall Astra is one of the most well-rounded family hatcbacks on sale. If you're looking at the likes of the Ford Focus or Renault Megane for your next family car, then the chances are the Astra is on your shopping list as well.
We've been impressed with the Astra's well equipped interior, its fun driving style and also its relatively low asking price - the range kicks off from £15,445. If your budget won't stretch that far, though, it's worth looking at the old Astra.
This version of the Astra, on sale between 2009 and 2015, offers most of the same positives that we like about the current model. So if low running costs, a big boot and five doors are at the top of your list of priorities, it could slot into your life with ease.
What budget do I need?
The good news for buyers is that with so many Astras around - this is still one of the most popular cars in the UK, remember - prices start nice and low. In fact, you can pick up a high-mileage example for around £300. Even the newest models with 2.0-litre diesel engines can be had for less than £15,000.
If you can stretch your budget to around £10,000, then you'll find that our favoured 1.6-litre CDTi diesel models in Tech Line specification and with reasonable mileage will be within your price range.
The Astra is at least on a par - and in some cases is slightly better - than its rivals when it comes to the cost of replacing worn-out parts. Most engines are also economical, with our preferred 1.6 CDTi managing an official 78mpg, and emitting just 94g/km of CO2.
Which version should I go for?
There's plenty of choice when it comes to the Astra, whether you're looking for petrol or diesel power. If most of your driving is confined to urban streets, then your best bet is to go for the 1.6-litre VVT petrol because it offers a good compromise between pace and efficiency. If you plan on covering a lot of miles, though, the 1.6-litre CDTi diesel is very efficient, and is our preffered choice.
Our favoured Tech Line trim gets you plenty of kit, including air conditioning, electric front windows, cruise control ,16in alloy wheels, satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Astra received a facelift in mid-2012, which brought with it mild styling changes and a few changes to the engine line-up.
Any problems to be aware of?
The Astra is a popular car with both fleets and private owners so there are plenty to choose from. So make sure you buy a well-loved example. Take the time to inspect both bumpers for scratches, and look out for kerbed wheels or interior marks or rattles.
On your test drive, listen out for a rumbling from the back of the car - this could mean the shock absorbers need replacing. Damp patches in the boot suggest failing seals, too.
Some electrical gremlins have also been reported, most commonly with the cruise control turning itself off without warning and the brake lights flickering - so make sure everything works as it should do during your test drive.
You may have read about the fire issues that affected Vauxhall Zafira models last year - the Astra was recalled around the same time to solve any potentially similar issues. Recalls also took place in 2010 and 2011 to fix issues with the front passenger seats and window anti-trap mechanisms.
Want to buy a used Vauxhall Astra? Click here to see the used cars for sale through What Car? Classifieds.
Got a motoring question? Our experts are standing by to help, just tweet us your question using #askwhatcar
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here