- The car Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.4T 150 Elite Nav
- Run by Simon Strang, contributor
- Why it's here To see if a small estate car can fit into family and work life as well as an SUV
- Needs to Make light work of the suburban commute and the school run; deal with long motorway trips and fully laden family holidays; handle weekly supermarket trips
Price £22,685 Price as tested £25,320 Miles 7408 Official economy 50.4mpg Test economy 51.3mpg Options fitted Intellilux LED Matrix headlights and Driving Assistance pack 1 (£1815); parking pack (£615); ergonomic sports-style front seats (£205)
19 October 2017 – Vauxhall Astra third report
The Astra Sports Tourer has quickly settled into family life and has, for the large part, been a happy addition. In fact, in its first month on the job, hardly an eyebrow has been raised by Team Strang as it seamlessly delivers children to school, wife to work and me to work via a journey that includes a 45-mile schlep around the notorious M25.
Quiet over the asphalt, light on steering and sprung firmly enough so as to feel responsive but nonchalant of the well-used country lanes surrounding my home, I’ve found it to be both practical and engaging to drive. It's quiet at speed, with light steering and a comfortable ride – which I imagine was high on the list of its originators' priorities when designing this family estate.
My son is fairly sure, however, that the Astra is auditioning for droid roles in the new Star Wars movie, based purely on the amount of bleeping and beeping coming from the dashboard. Whatever it is that occurs to the car seems to be a good enough reason for it to fire off a beep. Having got over this novelty fairly swiftly, it can become an annoying trait. But once you begin to investigate these tweeps more scientifically, there is often a well-conceived method to them.
The indicator stalk, for example, seems more tolerant of steering wheel lock than most cars I’ve driven and doesn’t always automatically switch back off… there’s a bleep for that, as well as a polite message from the trip computer (I’ve never seen that before).
Traffic up ahead? There’s a beep for that, too – although you have to take your eyes off the road, touch the screen button and read the text to find out whether it’s actually in your direction. There’s even one for ghosts – okay, not quite, but just this morning the Vauxhall was convinced I was about to collide with something that was clearly parked on the side of the road.
There is a handy flipside to all this sensitivity, though – parking is a dream. The cars I’m used to driving, including a big Ford Mondeo and a Golf GTD, seem less nimble at getting into those tricky high street parking spaces, and both the Vauxhall’s wonderfully extensive steering lock and the conversational sensors around the car give me confidence for a crack at spaces barely two feet longer than the car.
I would add the rear reversing camera to the list of helpful aids, but its unguarded position on the hatch door means that it is exposed to the elements, so the lens gets blurry after a watery or muddy journey. On our family VW, the reversing camera is protected behind the badge on the boot door and it strikes me as odd that more manufacturers aren’t doing it. After all, what’s the point of a view you can’t see clearly?