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.