What Car? says...
Your parents may well have had an Astra estate car – and maybe a few of your cousins too. Now called the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, it’s been a staple of the manufacturer's range for decades, offering value, space and efficiency.
In recent years, Vauxhall has seen the Astra Sports Tourer fall behind some of its newer rivals, but don't expect it to slip away into the shadows. The model is now available in a bold new form that takes the striking eighth-generation Vauxhall Astra hatchback and gives it estate practicality.
The car shares underpinnings with the Peugeot 308 SW and you can choose from two versions of its turbocharged, three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol, and two plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). There's also an all-electric version, for those who like the look of the Vauxhall Astra Electric but need more practicality.
So how does the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer stack up against the very practical Skoda Octavia Estate, the fun to drive Ford Focus Estate and Seat Leon Estate or the highly fuel-efficient Toyota Corolla Touring Sports? Read on to find out...
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
There are currently five Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer engines to choose from, starting with the two three-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrols in 108bhp and 128bhp forms.
The higher output 1.2 isn't what you would call quick – its 10.0 seconds 0-62mph time is nearly two seconds slower than the 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol found in the Skoda Octavia Estate – but we found it willing enough on B-roads and motorways. If you're a private buyer, we reckon this is the pick of the range.
Company car drivers, meanwhile, will be better off with one of the 1.6-litre PHEVs or the electric car version, due to their lower or non-existent CO2 emissions. Starting with the plug-in hybrids, both the 178bhp version and the 222bhp GSe have an official electric-only range of 35 miles.
No matter which version you go for, both versions have more than enough power to keep up with the flow of traffic when running on just their batteries, and once the occasionally reluctant eight-speed automatic gearbox has agreed to drop a gear or two, they’ll sprint from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds and 7.5 seconds respectively – more than enough punch to make effortless country road overtakes.
The all-electric version isn’t as powerful as either PHEV, with 154bhp, but it’s still more than fast enough, thanks to its instant kick off the line and 9.2 seconds 0-62mph sprint time. Arguably more important is the 54kWh battery (50.8kWh usable), which gives the Sports Tourer Electric an official range of up to 256 miles – slightly more than the MG5 EV Long Range.
Versions with a petrol engine on 17in wheels (standard on GS Line models) handled most road surfaces well and proved to be more supple over potholes at town speeds than an ST-Line spec Ford Focus Estate. The electric version gets 18in wheels as standard (they’re optional on the PHEV), and while it has good body control and is never uncomfortable, it's not as forgiving on scruffy surfaces.
As with the Astra hatchback, the Touring Sports isn’t the last word in entertainment, but its greater body control compared with the floaty Octavia means it feels far more composed in the corners.
Vauxhall has prioritised mechanical grip over steering delicacy, but the weight build-up of the steering is at least progressive, allowing you to accurately gauge how much steering is needed to place the car for a corner.
In terms of refinement, the Astra Touring Sports suffers very little from wind noise at speed. Admittedly, all the examples we tried had acoustic glassing (thicker windscreen and side glass) to help cut out the din of gusts.
PHEV and electric models are even more refined thanks to their near-silent electric modes. Their only real demerit is that their brakes are rather sharp until you learn to be measured with your inputs.
Unfortunately, the 1.2 petrol models can't match that level of refinement. The petrol with a six-speed manual gearbox (it's also available with an eight-speed auto) suffers from a rubbery gearshift action that's not as slick as the Focus or Seat Leon's, along with gearbox whine and some slight vibrations through the accelerator and clutch pedals.
Strengths Settled ride; PHEV and electric versions have competitive ranges
Weaknesses Not much fun to drive; gearboxes not as slick as rivals'
The interior layout, fit and finish
While the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer shares lots of parts with the Peugeot 308 SW, it has a much more user-friendly driving position. The more conventional layout doesn’t require you to look at the digital driver display over a small steering wheel – you see it through the spokes just like in most other cars.
All Sports Tourers have a digital instrument panel for the driver display. It gives you all the key information you need, including your speed, revs and trip stats, but is nowhere near as configurable as the equivalent in the VW Golf Estate.
Better still, the steering wheel adjusts for height and reach, and the standard seats do a good job of accommodating drivers of different sizes. GS cars get sports seats with adjustable cushions and seat-base tilt adjustment for additional thigh support, plus electric lumbar adjustment.
There are far more physical buttons in the Astra Sports Tourer than in the 308 and even the Skoda Octavia Estate, which is a boon for usability. That means you can control major functions without having to wait for the main infotainment screen to boot up – a welcome feature on a hot day when all you want to do is cool things down.
Speaking of which, the 10in infotainment screen in the middle of the dash is angled towards the driver. The graphics on the screen are sharp and its clear enough to read at a glance. Response times seem reasonable enough, and at least the ones we tried didn’t suffer from the bugs that have plagued some Seat, Skoda and VW cars.
We would prefer it if the infotainment menu layout was streamlined, though, because a number of functions are buried deep within the system. Shortcuts – such as to customise the instrument cluster information – aren’t immediately obvious (you hold down the setting icon on the main menu for five seconds). All Astras get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Visibility isn’t bad by class standards, but an Octavia Estate is still much easier to see out of due to its slimmer roof pillars all round and big rear side windows. The Sports Tourer has the same issues as the Astra hatchback in that the pillar directly beside you is pretty chunky and obscures your over-the-shoulder view.
To help negate that issue when parking, every Sports Tourer comes with front and rear parking sensors, while GS trim and above add a 360-degree camera system.
Cast your eyes around the Astra Sports Tourer's interior and you’ll find plenty of soft-touch plastics within easy reach, and a lot of them are finished in a variety of textures. It’s a little too fussy and there are still one ore two flimsy bits of trim that you wouldn't find in premium brand estate cars.
If you opt for the GS model, you get a black headliner, which might make things seem a bit sombre to some, so choose your spec wisely.
Strengths Easy to get comfy; plenty of physical controls
Weaknesses Some rivals have more usable infotainment menus; bland interior
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer gives 6ft adults plenty of head, leg and shoulder room up front.
There’s also plenty of storage from the deep bin in front of the gear lever (with wireless phone-charging on Ultimate models), two cupholders along the middle, and a split armrest that hides a cubby with additional charging ports. Even sunglasses have a dedicated home just below the air-con controls.
If those same 6ft adults are travelling in the back, they'll be better off in the Ford Focus Estate or Seat Leon Estate, because both offer better leg room and more space for your feet underneath the seat in front. The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports (without the panoramic glass sunroof) offers more head room and a smaller central tunnel for the middle-seat occupant to straddle.
GS models have a load-through ski hatch and a rear fold-down armrest, but all models – as per the Peugeot 308 SW – have a more flexible 40/20/40 split-folding rear bench. Most rivals offer a 60/40 split, unless you look at premium estate cars such as the Audi A4 Avant and the Mercedes C-Class Estate.
The Astra Sports Tourer boot size depends on which version you go for. The regular petrols have 597 litres of boot volume, while the PHEVs and the all-electric version get 516 litres.
You get more space in the Leon Estate and Skoda Octavia Estate boots, but the Sports Tourer has some neat touches. Firstly, its boot is a usefully square shape that’ll make arranging things in the back easier. Also, there are remote releases for the split-folding seats just inside the boot aperture so you don't have to lean in.
The pure-petrol versions also get a handy adjustable boot floor, which helps to eliminate the loading lip at the boot entrance and gives you a mostly flat load area when the seats are folded down.
Petrol models have space to store the parcel shelf (as per the Focus) in its own cubby when not needed, while the PHEVs and EV use the space for charging cable storage. If you're comparing electric estate cars, the MG5 EV has a smaller boot.
Strengths Plenty of space for driver and passengers; rear seat bench splits 40/20/40
Weaknesses Some rivals have bigger boots
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Private buyers purchasing a Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer with cash will find it slightly undercuts the Peugeot 308 SW but costs more than the Skoda Octavia Estate and VW Golf Estate. Likewise, even in its entry-level Design trim, the Sports Tourer Electric costs far more than its only real rival, the MG5 EV.
No matter which version you go for, you’ll find that resale values are predicted to be around the same as its respective rivals. That should keep PCP finance quotes competitive with rivals since future values form part of the quotation. Before you buy, make sure to check out the lowest prices on our New Car Deals pages.
Private buyers will likely appreciate that the petrol engines should keep running costs reasonable, with even the most powerful engine officially managing 49.6mpg. Even so, it’s worth noting that no petrol estate car rival can beat the frugal Toyota Corolla Touring Sport for fuel costs: it manages more than 60mpg in 1.8-litre form.
If you drive a company car, you’ll want the Sports Tourer Electric because it cuts monthly benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bills significantly. That said, if you often drive long distances and would rather have some petrol power to fall back on, the PHEV is pretty tax efficient, sitting in the 8% bracket due to its city electric range of 42 miles (35 miles combined).
Every Astra Sports Tourer comes with plenty of standard equipment, with even entry-level Design trim getting keyless start, automatic LED headlights with high beam assist, climate control, cruise control, parking aids and infotainment kit.
Stepping up to GS (your entry-point for the PHEV models) adds sportier styling and dual-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control and the upgraded parking camera.
Ultimate (top spec for the pure petrol and electric versions) adds a powered tailgate, a head-up display, a panoramic sunroof and a heated windscreen.
The top-spec PHEV GSe gets sportier styling and Alcantara around the interior.
The Astra Sports Tourer is too new to have featured in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Vauxhall did – and did badly. It finished in 30th place out of 32 brands (only Alfa Romeo and Cupra did worse).
Like all Vauxhalls, it comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. That's in keeping with cover from most other manufacturers, but can’t beat Hyundai's five-year warranty, Kia's seven-year cover or Toyota’s 10-year warranty.
When Euro NCAP tested the latest Astra for safety in 2022, it awarded it four out of five stars, commenting that it showed good protection for both adult and child occupants. Helping the score is the fact that there’s plenty of safety equipment fitted as standard, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assist, and speed-limit sign recognition.
Strengths Decent resale values; PHEVs attract low company car tax
Weaknesses Some rivals have longer warranties and better safety ratings
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The entry-level Astra Sports Tourer is badged the Design if you go for either the pure petrol or electric car version, and is followed by GS and top-spec Ultimate. PHEV versions, meanwhile, start at mid-spec GS, followed by Ultimate and then finish with the sporty GSe.
All Astra Sport Tourers, regardless of engine, come with five seats. In all versions, the three rear seats can be split and folded 40/20/40, making them more versatile than a lot of rivals, which have a 60/40 split.
|RRP price range||£29,160 - £45,460|
|Number of trims (see all)||4|
|Number of engines (see all)||5|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol, electric, hybrid|
|MPG range across all versions||217 - 51.4|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£80 / £2,123|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£160 / £4,246|