Used Vauxhall Astra Hatchback 1998 - 2004 review

Category: Family car

A thoroughly affordable, dependable and practical small famliy car

Vauxhall Astra Hatchback (98 - 04)
  • Vauxhall Astra Hatchback (98 - 04)
  • Vauxhall Astra Hatchback (98 - 04)
Used Vauxhall Astra Hatchback 1998 - 2004 review
Star rating

What's the used Vauxhall Astra hatchback like?

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Astra is just what a good drive it is, and far better than its styling might suggest. All models have a fine blend of a smooth ride and sharp handling, and the suspension revisions to performance versions such as the SRi make them excellent hot hatches.

Similarly, the cabin styling may be uninspiring - and the dash is certainly functional rather than fashionable - but what the Astra lacks in aesthetics, it more than makes up for in practicality. True, the cabin looks a little cramped by modern standards, but there's enough space for four adults - and five at a push - as well as a very good boot, with split/fold rear seats on all models.


A thoroughly affordable, dependable and practical small famliy car

  • Astras are cheap to buy and run, drive well and have a good range of engines
  • The interiors are drab and early base models have sparse equipment

Most, but not all, models also have height adjustment on the driver's seat as well as reach and rake adjustment on the steering wheel, allowing anyone to make themselves comfortable behind the wheel.

Ownership cost

What used Vauxhall Astra hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Vauxhall Astra hatchback?

In common with models from other mass-market manufacturers such as Ford, cars from Vauxhall suffer steep depreciation from new, which makes them ideal used buys.

The Astra is a perfect illustration of that, much cheaper than the equivalent VW Golf or Toyota Corolla. And, as it's already suffered the biggest hit of depreciation, you needn't worry too much about how it will drop in value in the future.

Fuel economy, too, needn't be a worry. Most petrol engines return more than 30mpg, on a par with their rivals, but there was also a range of bi-fuel cars that ran on both petrol and LPG. They are no more fuel-efficient, but are cheaper to run, because LPG is cheaper to buy. For the best fuel economy, a diesel is the only choice, and some versions return over 60mpg on the combined cycle.

Finally, there are no unexpected horror stories in insurance costs and, likewise, servicing costs are no worse than for the equivalent Ford Focus.

Our recommendations

Which used Vauxhall Astra hatchback should I buy?

The Astra was blessed with fine petrol engines, and our favourite is the 1.6 16v, which revs with a delightful eagerness and pushes the car along at a fair old rate. However, if you're after something more sporty, the 1.8- and 2.2-litre engines that powered the SRi models are well worth a look.

By contrast, the diesels are something of a disappointment. Of course, they have the attraction of better fuel economy, but their lack of performance and refinement mean we'd steer clear of them.

When it comes to equipment, the Astra range was updated throughout its life, so buy the latest model you can. All have power steering, but early base models were poorly equipped, and a passenger airbag only became standard across the range in 1999. Further improvements came in January 2000 and August 2001, and we'd recommend the LS as the best blend of costs and equipment.

No matter which model you're after, Astras are easy to find at all outlets.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Vauxhall Astra hatchback?