Vauxhall Astra review

Category: Family car

The Astra is a decent all-rounder and is available as a PHEV but there are better family cars

Vauxhall Astra front right driving
  • Vauxhall Astra front right driving
  • Vauxhall Astra rear cornering
  • Vauxhall Astra interior dashboard
  • Vauxhall Astra boot
  • Vauxhall Astra interior driver display
  • Vauxhall Astra right driving
  • Vauxhall Astra front cornering
  • Vauxhall Astra front right driving
  • Vauxhall Astra front cornering
  • Vauxhall Astra rear right driving
  • Vauxhall Astra rear cornering
  • Vauxhall Astra front right static
  • Vauxhall Astra right static
  • Vauxhall Astra rear right static
  • Vauxhall Astra headlights detail
  • Vauxhall Astra alloy wheel detail
  • Vauxhall Astra rear badge
  • Vauxhall Astra rear lights
  • Vauxhall Astra interior front seats
  • Vauxhall Astra interior back seats
  • Vauxhall Astra steering wheel detail
  • Vauxhall Astra infotainment touchscreen
  • Vauxhall Astra interior detail
  • Vauxhall Astra front right driving
  • Vauxhall Astra rear cornering
  • Vauxhall Astra interior dashboard
  • Vauxhall Astra boot
  • Vauxhall Astra interior driver display
  • Vauxhall Astra right driving
  • Vauxhall Astra front cornering
  • Vauxhall Astra front right driving
  • Vauxhall Astra front cornering
  • Vauxhall Astra rear right driving
  • Vauxhall Astra rear cornering
  • Vauxhall Astra front right static
  • Vauxhall Astra right static
  • Vauxhall Astra rear right static
  • Vauxhall Astra headlights detail
  • Vauxhall Astra alloy wheel detail
  • Vauxhall Astra rear badge
  • Vauxhall Astra rear lights
  • Vauxhall Astra interior front seats
  • Vauxhall Astra interior back seats
  • Vauxhall Astra steering wheel detail
  • Vauxhall Astra infotainment touchscreen
  • Vauxhall Astra interior detail
What Car?’s Astra deals
New car deals
Save up to £6,306
Target Price from £23,858
Save up to £6,306
or from £313pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £20,492

Introduction

What Car? says...

The Vauxhall Astra has long been a go-to choice for families wanting value-for-money motoring, and that's made it a big seller over the four decades it's been around.

In the hope of continuing that success, Vauxhall has given this new eighth-generation Astra sharper looks, electrified engine options and up-to-date tech to help it compete with rivals. By "electrified engine options", we don't just mean the Vauxhall Astra Electric (which we've reviewed separately) – there are also two plug-in hybrids and a mild-hybrid.

Previous generations of Astra have offered lots of kit for a competitive price, but the model never really shone in any one area. So does the latest version – which is closely related to the latest Peugeot 308 – have what it takes to mix it with the best family cars?

Read on to find out how we rate the Vauxhall Astra against rivals including the great-to-drive Ford Focus and Seat Leon and the smartly kitted out Mazda 3 and VW Golf...

Overview

The Vauxhall Astra blends value with good ride comfort, tidy handling and adequate performance, but struggles to trouble the best family cars in other areas. If you do buy one, we recommend going for the 1.2-litre 130 petrol engine and mid-spec GS trim.

  • Punchy engines with low running costs
  • Well equipped and easy to use dashboard
  • Big boot
  • Rivals offer more rear seat space
  • Ford Focus and Seat Leon are more entertaining to drive
  • Grabby brakes on all versions except diesels
New car deals
Save up to £6,306
Target Price from £23,858
Save up to £6,306
or from £313pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £20,492

Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £29,865
Vauxhall Astra 1.2 Turbo 130 GS 5dr review
What Car? Target Price
: £25,546
Save at least £4,318
Get the best price
See the full range

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

There are five engine options for the Vauxhall Astra: two petrols, a mild-hybrid petrol and two petrol plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

When it comes to the regular petrols, we’d avoid the entry-level 1.2-litre 110 and go straight for the 130, which has plenty of grunt from low revs for town driving. That said, it runs out of steam a bit during overtaking, and when we timed one at our private test track, the 0-60mph sprint took an underwhelming 9.5 seconds (more than a second slower than a Seat Leon 1.5 TSI Evo).

We’ve yet to drive the 134bhp 1.2-litre with mild-hybrid tech but we suspect it will feel noticeably punchier than the non-hybrid engines.

The Astra Plug-in Hybrid-e 180 combines a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor to deliver 178bhp and a 0-62mph time of 7.7 seconds. Its performance is more than brisk enough for most, and makes the "sporty" 222bhp GSe – which shaves just 0.2 seconds off the 0-62mph time – look a bit unnecessary.

The two PHEV Astras have an official electric-only range of around 42 miles, which is competitive with the Seat Leon e-Hybrid's.

Suspension and ride comfort

If you value comfort more than fun on a country road, the Astra is a good fit. It rides well over most road surfaces and the suspension soaking up bumps well. It’s forgiving enough at low speeds to cushion you over speed bumps, yet there’s enough body control to prevent it wallowing about on undulating roads.

Vauxhall Astra image
Skip the showroom and find out more online

The Skoda Octavia is more comfortable, isolating you against sharper ripples on the road, but the Astra strikes a good balance between comfort and composure, and feels calmer than a Honda Civic or Seat Leon. Lower trim levels, which have smaller wheels and tyres that help to absorb bumps, have the plushest ride you’ll get in an Astra.

The PHEV models are heavier and will occasionally thump over sharper imperfections on battered urban roads, but we’d stop short of calling them uncomfortable. Even the GSe, with its slightly firmer suspension, doesn’t crash over nasty, broken Tarmac and rides speed bumps without a secondary bounce.

Vauxhall Astra rear cornering

Handling

The Astra isn’t the best family car in terms of agility, but handles tidily enough when cornering. The suspension does a fair job of keeping body lean in check while grip levels remain strong, so the car feels composed and safe.

The GSe version comes with lowered suspension, stiffer springs and Koni dampers, which help to improve handling. As a result, it has better body control than the standard car, but it’s not what you’d call playful. The eco tyres don’t grip particularly hard and the steering is rather numb (as it is on less-powerful Astras). The car therefore lacks the immediacy and involvement of a Focus or Leon.

Noise and vibration

The quietest Astras (not including the Astra Electric) are the PHEVs, and their 1.6-litre petrol engine remains quiet, even when worked hard.

The 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol isn't the quietest engine in the family car class when worked hard, but it's muted enough around town and on a cruise. In contrast, the 1.5-litre four-cylinder units in the Leon and the Octavia emit a constant drone.

Wind and road noise are generally well-contained in the Astra. There's some pulsing through the steering wheel when cruising at higher speeds, and vibrations felt through the gear lever on manual versions, but you’re otherwise well isolated from the outside world. Ultimate trim gets double-glazed front windows, which help too.

On versions with an automatic gearbox the shifts are slow, haphazard and occasionally jerky. Plus, the 1.2 petrol's stop-start system and grabby brakes make it almost impossible to drive smoothly in slow traffic.

Driving overview

Strengths Rides well over most surfaces; safe and tidy handling; quiet engines

Weaknesses Slow auto gearbox; GSe isn’t exciting to drive or particularly quick

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

Finding a comfortable seating position in the Vauxhall Astra should only take a moment, with plenty of adjustment available from the seat and steering wheel. The pedals are not too close together, but some drivers will find that the steering wheel blocks their view of the top of the instrument panel if it’s set low.

The seats in GS and Ultimate trim models are particularly comfy, with firm bolstering and plenty of support for cornering.

If the dashboard layout in the Peugeot 308 (with its tiny steering wheel) doesn't work for you, you might find the Astra better. The 10in digital driver's display is viewed through the steering wheel (rather than over it as in the 308), and you get a head-up display on Ultimate and GSe models to help keep your eyes on the road.

The graphics on the screens are sharp and the font is clear enough to read at a glance. In the PHEV, the text of the speedometer readout turns blue when you're running on electric power. It’s a very simple visual indicator that saves you looking at a separate dial or dashboard light.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

While the Astra is generally pretty easy to see out of, it does have some issues. For starters, the front windscreen pillars are quite narrow but are angled in such a way that they can get in the way when you’re trying to see out at junctions.

When you look over your shoulder, you’re greeted by thick rear pillars that restrict your view (the Mazda 3 suffers from this too). Luckily, to help you with parking, all versions come with front and rear parking sensors, while GS, Ultimate and GSe trim add a 360-degree camera.

Seeing at night shouldn’t be an issue thanks to bright standard-fit LED headlights on all trim levels. On Ultimate and GSe trims, you get matrix LEDs that allow you to keep full beam on at all times without blinding other road users.

Vauxhall Astra interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

All versions of the Astra come with a 10in infotainment touchscreen. Its responses could be quicker, and while the home screen uses a simple grid layout to help you find the function you want quickly, the fonts used by the sub menus are tiny.

All versions get wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, but it’s best to stick with the standard-fit built-in sat-nav if you want to see instructions on the driver display. There's also a voice-control programme designed to recognise everyday phrases. We tried "Hey Vauxhall, it’s too warm in here!" and the system turned down the climate control by one degree.

Thankfully you can adjust the climate control using physical buttons, rather than having to use the infotainment touchscreen. They don't look as classy as the touchscreen panel in the Peugeot 308, but are easier to use.

The Drive Mode toggle switch on the centre console means you don’t have to dig through a touchscreen menu to change the setting, as you do in the Seat Leon.

Quality

Inside the Astra, it doesn’t take long to notice how dark everything is. There are plenty of soft-touch plastics within easy reach and a lot of them are finished in a variety of textures, but they’re almost hidden in various shades of black. 

You do get some coloured trim finishers on the doors and dash (they're red on GS and silver on Ultimate), but they don't really lift the sombre mood.

While it all feels solid enough, some of the controls, such as the indicator stalks and the slide adjustments for the driver’s side air vent, don’t have quite the build precision found in the Leon or the VW Golf.

Interior overview

Strengths Decent driving position; interior feels solid

Weaknesses Infotainment is quite slow; interior only comes in dark pallets

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

Even if you're over six feet tall, you won’t find yourself having to squeeze into the front of the Vauxhall Astra, thanks to the generous amount of head and leg room. You won’t be bashing elbows with your passenger or the doors either.

There’s plenty of storage space on the centre console, with two cupholders and a large cubby that has a tray big enough for your phone. On Ultimate and GSe trim models, you also get a wireless phone-charging tray. If you press a button on the centre air vent, a "secret" sunglasses holder hinges down from below it.

Rear space

Room in the rear of the Astra isn’t as generous as in some rivals, with less leg room and space for feet under the front seats than in the Ford Focus and the Seat Leon.

What’s more, even without the Ultimate trim’s standard-fit panoramic roof, you’ll find that head room is a little tight if you're more than six feet tall (again, the Focus and Leon are more generous).

The relatively small door openings restrict access, whether you’re an adult trying to get in or simply leaning in to secure a child in its car seat.

You get storage nets on the backs of the front seats, and the fold-down centre armrest fitted to GS models and above has built-in cupholders and a tray for pens.

Vauxhall Astra boot

Seat folding and flexibility

The Astra’s rear seats fold in a 60/40 arrangement. That's nothing special in the family car class, but at least the rear fold-down armrest on GS trim and above also acts as a load-through hatch for skis or other long, narrow objects.

If you want a more flexible 40/20/40 folding arrangement and useful handles in the boot so you can drop the seats quickly and easily, have a look at the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer (the estate car variant).

Boot space

The Astra hatchback has a 422-litre boot that's a useful square shape and has a low lip to lift heavy items over. That volume beats most of the rivals, including the Toyota Corolla and VW Golf. The PHEV versions lose some boot space, leaving you with 352 litres.

What does that mean in the real world? Well, we managed to fit five carry-on suitcases in the boot of the Astra – matching the number swallowed by the Golf – so it's more than big enough for a week's worth of shopping, a couple of buggies or luggage for a family holiday. Of course, if you plan to fill the boot often, the Sports Tourer is even more practical.

Non-PHEV Astras in GS trim and above come equipped with an adjustable boot floor. That's handy if you need to store and protect items, and can eradicate the otherwise big drop down from the loading lip to the floor of the load bay.

Practicality overview

Strengths Plenty of storage space; decent-sized boot

Weaknesses Rear head room is tight

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

​​As a cash buy, the cheapest Vauxhall Astra undercuts the Peugeot 308 and VW Golf but costs slightly more than the Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia.

The Design, GS and Ultimate trims match the cost of similarly specced rivals quite closely, but the GSe version is much pricier. You can check for the latest prices on our New Car Deals pages.

When it comes to running costs, all the Astra petrol engines have an official fuel economy figure of more than 50mpg.

Company car drivers are likely to be attracted to the PHEVs for their lower benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rates. Their list prices are considerably more than for other versions, but if you charge them up regularly, you should save on fuel costs. The Vauxhall Astra Electric will attract even less BIK tax.

Equipment, options and extras

The entry-level Astra trim – Design – comes with plenty of equipment, including 16in alloy wheels, climate control, cruise control, LED headlights, automatic windscreen wipers, electrically adjustable and heated wing mirrors, and keyless start, plus infotainment and parking assist tech.

Mid-range GS, which is expected to be the most popular trim, is the one we’d recommend. It has sportier styling, and adds adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, heated front seats and steering wheel, ambient interior lighting and larger (17in) alloy wheels.

Ultimate will be worth a look if you favour tech over sportiness. It adds a panoramic roof, eight stereo speakers rather than six, wireless phone-charging, a heated windscreen, a head-up display and matrix LED headlights. GSe gets you the same equipment as Ultimate but adds a more powerful engine, upgraded suspension and some styling tweaks.

Vauxhall Astra interior driver display

Reliability

The Astra is too new to have featured in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Vauxhall finished way down in 30th place out of 32 car makers included, above only Alfa Romeo and Cupra.

The Astra – like all Vauxhall models – 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 or Kia's seven-year cover.

Safety and security

When Euro NCAP tested the Astra for safety in 2022, it awarded the model a slightly disappointing four out of five stars. The Golf, with its five-star rating, provided better chest protection for the front passenger in a frontal impact.

At least there’s plenty of safety equipment fitted as standard, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assist and speed-limit sign recognition. Cars in Ultimate trim and above get lane-change assistance and rear cross-traffic alert.

Costs overview

Strengths Design trim comes with a decent amount of kit; all engines are reasonably frugal 

Weaknesses Vauxhall has a poor reliability record; four-star safety rating


For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

FAQs

  • Yes. The Astra is a family car while the Vauxhall Corsa is a small car. As a result, the Astra has a bigger boot and more space for occupants, especially in the back seats.

  • You can have the Astra in four trims: Design, GS, Ultimate and GSe. Top-spec GSe comes from the new Vauxhall performance and efficiency sub-brand, and has a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) engine plus loads of standard kit.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £6,306
Target Price from £23,858
Save up to £6,306
or from £313pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £20,492
RRP price range £26,970 - £43,260
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)6
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, electric, petrol parallel phev
MPG range across all versions 217 - 60.1
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £75 / £1,984
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £151 / £3,968
Available colours