Used test: Skoda Octavia Estate vs Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer
The supremely practical Skoda Octavia Estate has always been one of our favourite family cars, but does the cheaper Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer make more sense as a used buy? Read on to find out...
What are they like inside?
Both cars have masses of space up front, so they can accommodate even very tall drivers. The Octavia has slightly more comfortable seats that come with adjustable lumbar support as standard.
The colour touchscreen forms the focal point of each car’s dash, but it’s the Octavia's interior that feels more solidly put together. It's more user-friendly, too. There’s no major issue with the Astra’s dashboard layout, but the Octavia's infotainment system is marginally more intuitive, while its steering wheel controls are more logical. The Octavia’s boxier shape and slimmer rear pillars also give it the edge for over-the-shoulder visibility.
With more space in the rear seats than you get in the already roomy hatchback versions of these cars, both are easily able to carry a couple of six-footers in the back. The Astra edges the Octavia for rear head room, while the latter offers a touch more leg room, but both are very roomy choices. However, the Octavia gets a central rear armrest with two cupholders; surprisingly, the Astra doesn’t.
The Octavia also wins for sheer boot space – and by some margin. Its deeper load bay gives it 610 litres of room with the rear seats in place, compared with the Astra’s 500 litres. That said, the Astra's boot floor is flush with the load lip, and its seats fold flat to further extend that smooth floor. However, it’s disappointing that a height-adjustable floor or underfloor storage isn't offered – even as an option.
Meanwhile, the Octavia has a less than ideal stepped floor when you fold down its rear seats, and there's a big lip at the entrance that will irritate you if you’re trying to slide heavy items in. However, for £150 you could add a variable-height boot floor that would iron out these problems. The Octavia also has a through-loading hatch (not offered in the Astra) in the middle rear seat that allows you to stick long, thin items through into the passenger area. You can also drop the Octavia's rear seats using levers mounted in the boot, whereas in the Astra you have to do this from the rear side doors.