Vauxhall Astra long-term test
Our sub-editor wanted a car that would relax him on his lengthy commute and be as fuel-efficient as possible. Is his plug-in hybrid Vauxhall Astra delivering?...
The car Vauxhall Astra Ultimate 180 plug-in hybrid Run by Chris Haining, sub-editor
Why it’s here To find out if a plug-in hybrid family hatchback is the answer to a varied motoring regime, while keeping an eye on running costs
Needs to Soothe in motorway traffic, sip petrol, and entertain on a twisty road
Mileage 2353 List price £38,850 Target Price £38,519 Price as tested £39,550 Test economy 52.6mpg Official economy 256mpg
20 January 2023 – Trial by technology
“A colony of termites walked into a pub, and asked “Is the bar tender here?”. That, from the electronic mouth of my Vauxhall Astra, is one of the funniest jokes I've ever been told, let alone by a car.
It comes thanks to the Astra’s natural voice recognition system, which can understand instructions from the top of my head, rather than requiring me to commit a list of approved commands to memory. For example, saying “Hey Vauxhall, take me to Colchester” is all that's needed for it to navigate me to the centre of that fine Roman city.
It's just as well the voice recognition works so well, because the alternative way of programming a destination into the sat-nav – the touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard – is less easy to get along with.
Usually, on encountering a new infotainment system, I’m able to find my way around it by trial and error, picking things up as I go. With the Astra, though, I had to sit in the car, with the instruction manual, and go through things step by step.
It got me thinking of my mum, formerly a primary school teacher, who's wonderful with people but no great fan of technology. As a kid, I remember her struggling to programme our VCR, and I really can't imagine her tackling anything as advanced as configuring the Astra’s infotainment home screen or its digital instrument display.
On the other hand, I reckon she'd love the climate controls in the Astra. While a lot of cars now incorporate these into an onscreen menu, the Astra's are on a separate panel beneath, so they're always on display.
What's more, they're proper switches that light up at night, instead of the touch-sensitive pads that don't, which you get in the latest the Volkswagen Golf. Those are certainly no joke.
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