Vauxhall Astra review
The new Astra has striking looks, a much-improved interior, and a bigger boot – although the latter limits rear legroom.
What's not so good
Find out more about the Vauxhall Astra
The Vauxhall Astra is a stylish and refined family hatchback that goes up against alternatives such as the Volkswagen Golf and the Ford Focus. But unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that already.
Here in the UK it’s a well-known and popular model, which is unsurprising given the fact that it’s been around in some form or another for four decades now. In many ways, you might think of it like your much-loved old family labrador: it’s trusty, reliable, super easy to get along with.
That’s not to say there’s anything old or ancient about the way it looks or drives, though.
It has a striking new appearance, which is more aggressive than the outgoing model – and it’s less bulbous, too. In addition, it has a prominent design feature along the front – a dark horizontal strip that Vauxhall calls the ‘Vizor’.
Inside, the first thing you notice is how lovely the cabin looks. Your eyes will also be drawn to the Pure Panel Pro cockpit: two all-digital screens housed in one unit on the dashboard. One replaces the traditional analogue speedometer and rev counter with a screen giving you helpful information about speed and sat-nav directions. The other controls the infotainment system.
The seats are comfortable, while the boot is bigger than you’ll find in the Golf and Focus, so fitting a folded pushchair in won’t be a problem. However, the larger boot means that rear legroom is reduced. Therefore, if you need to transport tall adults in the back frequently, you (and they) might be disappointed.
There is a selection of engines available – and they are very good. The 1.2-litre petrol unit has two variants, producing 110hp and 130hp, while there’s also a 1.5-litre 130hp diesel. You get a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox and an eight-speed automatic, although the 110hp petrol is only available with a manual.
The new Vauxhall Astra is, without doubt, the best yet – and the first that will have Ford and Volkswagen seriously worried.
The petrol-powered Astra arguably just shades it overall, but the diesel is less affected by extra weight. What does that mean? Well, it means the diesel model could suit you if you spend most of your time driving with all the seats occupied and a full boot. The automatic gearbox is superbly smooth, too.
There is also a plug-in hybrid version – a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor – boosting the power to 180hp. You will need to charge up the battery to get the real benefits of the electric motor. However, the extra oomph, reduced fuel consumption, and lower carbon emissions bring you the best of all worlds. If you are environmentally conscious, there’s a more powerful hybrid and an all-electric version coming next year, too.
While the Astra still isn’t quite as refined or as fun to drive as a Golf or Focus, it more than holds its own as a dependable, good-to-drive car. It is undoubtedly the best handling Astra yet, providing decent agility on twistier roads, with light steering and a comfortable ride, helped in no small part by the excellent seats.
Features, such as parking sensors, are available even on the cheapest version. And if you spend a bit more, you can get keyless entry, heated front seats and a wireless mobile phone charger.
Overall, the Astra is more desirable than ever. It doesn’t have the panache of its competitors, but it’s still practical, dependable, good value for money and – inside and outside – it ticks all the right boxes.
So if the new Astra sounds like it could be the car for you, head on over to our Vauxhall deals page to see how much you could save when you buy through carwow.
With a large boot and plenty of storage spots, the Astra is only let down by a lack of space for passengers in the back.
The rear seat space is arguably the only area where the new Astra has gone backwards compared with its predecessor.
You will find you won’t struggle for headroom if you’re tall, but your long legs will make for an uncomfortable journey due to the Astra’s limited legroom. As a result, it’s challenging to angle your limbs so that your feet fit underneath the front seats.
Combine the above with a tall driver, and you might find you don’t fit at all. Alternatives such as the Seat Leon offer more space in the rear.
Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be much of an issue for families with younger children. And, after opening the rear doors, there’s still plenty of room to easily fit baby carriers or child seats to keep your toddlers safe.
In terms of back-seat storage, GS Line models and above offer a fold-out armrest with cupholders if the middle seat isn’t occupied. There are also some smaller door bins and storage nets on the rear of the driver and passenger seats to place smaller objects.
You get a lot of storage space in the Astra, with a generous cubby in the centre console and two larger cupholders by the gear lever. There is also an area for the wireless charge pad up front in the top-of-the-range models.
It is relatively easy to find what’s what in the cabin, too. This is because most of the unnecessary buttons have been hidden in the infotainment system, leaving it reasonably uncluttered.
There is a considerate amount of room up front, so if you’re tall, you won’t find yourself struggling for space. Headroom is plentiful, too, so you don’t feel overly hemmed in or claustrophobic. Even if you’re muscular, you shouldn’t need to worry about playing elbow tennis with the doors – or the person sitting next to you, for that matter.
While the Astra lacks rear-seat room, it more than makes up for it with the size of the boot. But, of course, the lack of the former means more of the latter, so 422 litres is enough to laud it over its closest competitors.
There is a boot lip, but it’s not all that big, so lifting pushchairs or shopping bags over it to put stuff in, or take things out, shouldn’t be an issue.
The rear seats will collapse in a 60/40 split if you need more room. One of the outer rear seats folds down individually, while the other two seats fold down in one unit. This expands the available space to 1,389 litres. What’s more, if you have a GS Line model or above with the fold-out armrest, this can be fully opened out as a ‘ski hatch’. Therefore, you can thread longer, thin items, such as a curtain poles or planks of wood, through the boot into the cabin.
The hybridised Astra stores its batteries underneath the boot, so standard cargo capacity is reduced to 352 litres with the rear seats in place. But even this means it’s still only just worse off than the likes of the Volkswagen Golf.
Set up with comfort in mind, the Astra isn’t the most exciting car around but is a very capable cruiser.
The Astra’s engines are nicely refined and sip fuel, although exact figures depend on which powerplant you choose.
While the diesel will return the best figures in terms of fuel economy, the petrols – particularly the higher-powered one – will beat it them for sheer performance. Consequently, the 130hp petrol is likely to be a hit.
With the petrol, you get the choice of 110hp as well, although neither are what you’d call sporty. Both can crack from 0-60mph in over nine seconds, while the 130hp version can reach 130mph, with the lower-powered option reaching 124mph.
The 1.5-litre diesel also develops 130hp, allowing a leisurely 0-60mph time of 10.6 seconds. A 65mpg figure is the real selling point of diesel though, which is 14mpg more than what the most efficient petrol can achieve.
For more power, you can go for the 225hp PHEV version, but that won’t be available till later in 2022.
The Astra has decent engine performance when driving at low speeds, such as around town centres. The higher-powered 130hp petrol engine and the diesel pull away nicely, the latter even more so. Therefore, they are suitable for doing a lot of stop-start driving in heavy traffic.
There is a lot of adjustment in the steering wheel and driver’s seat, so finding a comfortable driving position is simple, while there’s decent visibility from all angles. In addition, the Astra has relatively large door mirrors, which helps to minimise blind spots.
The Vauxhall Astra’s ride comfort is good at laid-back speeds, helped by the seats that cushion you from the bumps and potholes in the road surface. Sticking with smaller wheels adds to the refinement, but higher-spec models with larger wheels are far from uncomfortable, either.
The steering is light and responsive enough, making for a relaxing journey and effortless parking.
Both the manual and automatic transmissions are up to the job, although the smooth automatic makes driving a bit easier if you’re going to be changing gear a lot. The manual is versatile, though, and pulls away well even if you’re in a gear higher than you’d ordinarily be.
The new Astra is suitable for driving at higher speeds, too. The steering isn’t an issue on faster, straighter roads, while the ride is soft enough to keep you feeling chilled but firm enough to prevent it from wallowing and bouncing around. In other words, it’s all very comfy.
The soundproofing is good, but the hybrid variant is the best option if you want blissfully quiet journeys. It provides a civilised level of performance at all speeds, although it’s more expensive. If you’re going to be doing a load of motorway driving, it’s worth carrying out further research to see if the savings on road tax and fuel outweigh the higher asking price.
Cruise control is included as standard on all models to keep you at a consistent speed. Lane departure warning and lane-keep assist, which will help ensure you don’t drift into another lane, are also built-in.
The Astra’s comfortable ride and stiffened suspension are a very agreeable blend, which means it’s pretty agile in the bends and handles well. It doesn’t lean too much, either, when you take a corner at speed.
The car provides an enjoyable driving experience, although the steering is too light to make the most out of the handling. The hybrid has a Sport mode which will make the steering weightier and more suited to thrill-seekers, but it’s also quite a bit heavier, which offsets any benefits.
Compared to alternatives, the Vauxhall Astra cabin is well-appointed and equipped. But it can feel a bit dark.
Vauxhall Astra colours
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.