Can the Vauxhall Astra hold its own in the competitive family hatch segment with good looks and a classy cabin?
Vauxhall have given the Astra a mid-life facelift with the aid of a new grille, indicators, bumper, and LED daytime running lights, a redesigned rear bumper and chrome trim. The Astra’s boot is still as big as ever and it is available with an adjustable floor for improved functionality. I actually like the Astra in ‘solid’ red or white paint.
In the front, the driving position is very good thanks to lots of adjustment in the steering wheel and driver’s seat, and the quality of trim is quite impressive. The ‘touch-points’ in the cabin feel soft and the rest of the trim feels robust. Also there is decent storage for bottles. While the Astra may look the same inside, it does come with some more kit to make it more appealing. Such as a revised digital radio and a new and improved reversing camera. As well as the six airbags and electric anti skid control, the new Astra comes with a driver’s assistance pack which includes technology to stop you getting too close to the car in front and to warn you if you a weaving out of your lane.
You can get the Astra with a bi-turbo diesel, but stick with the 1.4/1.6-litre turbo petrols, which have the best balance of performance and economy. So what’s the Astra like to drive? It is fairly good, riding over bumps pretty well, even if you go for the SRi model with its’ bigger wheels and sporty suspension.
Actually the stiffer suspension is needed to stop rolling in the corners. The optional flex-ride adjustable suspension improves things further but ultimately the steering does not feel connected to the front wheels means that the Astra is nowhere near as much fun to drive as a Ford Focus.
Also, while it is not exactly noisy, it is no match for the serene drive of VW’s Golf. There is also no way that VW bosses would have signed-off the design of the Astra’s cluttered centre console with a myriad of buttons. In the back, the Astra is roomy with decent knee and headroom. However, the thick rear ‘C’ pillar hinders visibility and can create a blind spot at filter junctions. The rear windows are quite small so it can feel quite dark and dingy.
The list price is not cheap and the SRi model has ‘keep fit’ winding rear windows. But we can negotiate hard on your behalf.
Attractive styling, classy cabin, refinement