Driving

Vauxhall Astra review

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Vauxhall Astra
Review continues below...
23 Aug 2016 12:15 | Last updated: 21 Aug 2018 14:44

In this review

Driving

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

Vauxhall Astra hatchback performance

We’d avoid the base 99bhp 1.4-litre petrol because it needs revving hard to make reasonable progress, making plenty of noise in the process. Instead, we’d consider the range of turbocharged engines, starting with the three-cylinder 1.0-litre with 104bhp. This has adequate performance, although it does need to be worked fairly hard over hilly terrain and when overtaking on faster roads.

Much more flexible are the pair of 1.4-litre turbocharged petrols with either 123bhp or 148bhp. With the higher-powered version, the Astra’s 0-62mph pace isn’t too far off that of some ‘warm’ hatches. Despite this, it’s capable of the same fuel economy as the 123bhp variant. If you’re after even more power, there’s a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine that’s certainly worthy of warm hatch status.

Those after the cheapest running costs will be more interested in the trio of diesel engines Vauxhall offers. The entry-level version has 108bhp, which is enough to give respectable pace, although we’d be tempted by the more powerful 134bhp diesel. It’s still capable of returning good MPG but is more flexible, making for more relaxed progress. The most potent diesel has twin turbos and produces 158bhp, but emissions and economy suffer.

Vauxhall Astra hatchback ride

While you’d never call the Astra uncomfortable, it doesn’t isolate you as much as cars such as the Volkswagen Golf, especially at low speeds. The suspension is firm, so you feel the undulations of the road, while broken surfaces can cause the odd thump to enter the interior. At no point does it feel jarring, however.

As with any car, the ride isn’t helped by increasing the size of the wheels – something to remember when selecting your chosen model and options. Even so, 17in wheels still provide a perfectly acceptable ride.

Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall Astra hatchback handling

Get to a bend and you can really feel the weight reduction that Vauxhall has quite rightly been boasting about. Unlike its predecessor, this Astra is alert and engaged in the process of cornering. It feels keen to change direction, and while there’s some body roll, it’s not excessive.

Unfortunately, the Astra’s steering lets it down, with little feedback and weighting that is too light on lower trim levels. SRi models do receive a Sport button that adds welcome weight to the helm. It’s good, but hasn’t quite done enough to beat the Ford Focus.

Vauxhall Astra hatchback refinement

Although you might expect Vauxhall to have jettisoned much of the car's sound deadening material in the quest for weight loss, the Astra proves more than adequate in terms of refinement. There is some wind noise from around the door mirrors at motorway speeds but road noise is better suppressed.

The four-cylinder petrol engines are smooth, only becoming vocal when pushed towards the top of the rev range, but even then they never sound harsh. The three-cylinder models aren’t bad either, but they do transmit some vibration through the wheel and pedals and can sound harsh when pushed.

There’s also a bit of vibration from the diesels, while some of the expected diesel clatter also makes itself heard – more so in the 158bhp version than the lower-powered models.

Manual gearboxes are smooth to operate between the gears, but the gearlever’s action is a touch vague.

 

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There are 10 trims available for the Astra hatchback. Click to see details.See all versions
SRi
SRi comes with 17in wheels, front foglights, a leather steering wheel, sports seats, a front armrest, auto wipers, a six-speaker stereo with OnStar, auto-dimming rear mirror and auto braking. If yo...View trim
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£16,385
Average Saving £4,825
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SE
On top of Design equipment, you get a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, auto lights and wipers, bigger alloys and dual-zone climate control. Considerably more expensive for not much extra...View trim
Fuel Petrol
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£16,744
Average Saving £4,856
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SRi Nav
Everything from SRi, with added sat-nav...View trim
Fuel Diesel, Petrol
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£17,029
Average Saving £4,881
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Design
Entry-level Design models receive hill start assist, cruise control, a touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity, air conditioning and auto lights. For not much more, however, you...View trim
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£17,041
Average Saving £1,309
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Elite Nav
Everything from Elite, with added sat-nav...View trim
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£17,452
Average Saving £4,918
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SRi Vx-line
We are yet to try out this variant...View trim
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£17,825
Average Saving £4,945
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OUR PICK
Tech Line Nav
While it may be barely any more expensive than Design trim, Tech Line Nav adds a leather steering wheel, rear door speakers, an armrest and sat-nav with an 8.0in screen. The best option for both pr...View trim
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£18,006
Average Saving £1,044
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SRi Vx-line Nav
We are yet to try out this variant...View trim
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£18,469
Average Saving £5,001
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SRi Vx-line Nav
We are yet to try out this variant...View trim
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£20,203
Average Saving £5,152
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Ultimate
This is the top of the Astra range and gets 18in wheels, LED matrix headlights, a parking pack, perforated leather seats and a driving assistance pack with automatic emergency braking. Very well ki...View trim
Fuel Diesel, Petrol
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£20,364
Average Saving £5,166
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