The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Regardless of your size or shape, you shouldn’t find it too tricky to get comfortable behind the wheel of the Vauxhall Astra. Both the seat and steering wheel offer plenty of adjustment, while the pedals and steering wheel are neatly aligned with one another. All of the important controls are within reach and easy to locate, too.
However, only higher-spec trims get adjustable lumbar support as standard. Without it, the seat doesn't provide a great deal of cradling for your lower back. The standard front seats are also a little flat and unsupportive during cornering, although the sports seats fitted to the SRi models are better.
Go for range-topping Elite Nav or Ultimate Nav trim and you’ll get an 8.0in digital display behind the steering wheel, in place of conventional instrument dials.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
We’ve few complaints about the visibility on offer when looking out of the front of the Astra. Relatively narrow windscreen pillars and decent-sized front side windows give you a fairly clear diagonal view at junctions, too.
Unfortunately, rearward visibility isn’t quite so impressive. The Astra's thick rear pillars obscure your over-shoulder view, making parking and other low-speed manoeuvres tricky.
Front and rear parking sensors are available together as an option, or, for not much more, you can buy the Parking Pack (standard on Ultimate Nav models). This not only includes the sensors, but also blindspot monitoring and an automatic parking system that can identify a suitable space and steer the car into it for you. The pack is particularly worth considering if you’re a nervous parker.
Sat nav and infotainment
Even entry-level SE and SRi models have a 7.0in colour touchscreen with a DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB port. Built-in sat-nav isn’t included, but standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring allows you to use navigation apps, such as Google Maps and Waze, via the Astra’s touchscreen.
Although it can be difficult to select what you want using the touchscreen (particularly when travelling down a bumpy road), there are handy shortcut buttons underneath to take you directly to the functions you want. Overall, it’s a decent system and is roughly on a par with the one you get in the rival Ford Focus. The Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Scala both have superior systems, though.
Higher-spec trims get built-in sat-nav, and the size of the touchscreen grows to 8.0in in range-topping Elite Nav and Ultimate Nav models. The latter also gives you a powerful Bose sound system.
Looking around the inside of the Astra, there are plenty of things to be happy about. The dashboard makes extensive use of soft-touch materials, while gloss black or chrome-effect inserts (depending on the trim level) help to smarten things up.
However, while decent, and certainly plusher inside than the Focus, the Astra is still a way behind the Golf and Skoda Octavia for overall interior quality. There are some cheap-feeling plastics to be found if you look hard enough, and some of the controls, such as the indicator and wiper stalks, don’t operate with the precision of the Golf's and Octavia’s.
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