£20,300 - £27,890 Price range
44 - 65 MPG
Vauxhall’s new Astra turned out to be one of the surprises of 2015 and now it’s been joined by the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer estate. It’s a rival to the load-lugging versions of the Ford Focus, VW Golf and Peugeot 308
Its boot is an impressive 170 litres bigger than in the regular hatchback and 40 litres larger than in the car it replaces. Passenger space is also decent with room for five adults, plus the interior feels well built and the dashboard is easy to use.
According to reviewers, it’s as sharp handling as the regular hatchback – with little body lean and meaty steering. Some of that agility comes at the expense of a stiff, but not uncomfortable ride. The engine range is strong with highlights including the frugal 136 1.6-litre diesel and willing turbocharged 150 1.4-litre petrol.
There are four trim levels to choose from – even the cheapest comes with alloy wheels, a seven-inch colour touchscreen, air-conditioning and cruise control.
Jump behind the wheel of the Sports Tourer and it’s clear Vauxhall has worked hard to improve quality. Much of the interior is built from soft-touch plastics that feel expensive and large swathes of the dashboard get modern shiny black plastics.
The layout is also excellent. Conventional knobs control primary functions for the stereo and ventilation system – unlike some rivals that have awkwardly integrated them into touchscreens – which means they’re easy to adjust on the move.
Much of the rest of the car’s controls are reserved for the seven-inch infotainment system, which features sharp graphics, quick response times and menus that are easy to navigate. Sat-nav is available on all but the most basic model.
For £395, you can also have Vauxhall’s OnStar concierge service, which provides a direct link to a Vauxhall call centre who can remotely programme your sat-nav, find the car if it is stolen, and can alert the emergency services if the car’s been involved in an accident.
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer interior space
Interior space has also been improved compared to the old model. Six foot adults can enjoy plenty of space in the front, without having to worry about crushing people of a similar size sitting behind and a fifth passenger will fit in without too much persuasion.
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer boot space
With a 540-litre capacity, the Sports Tourer’s boot is quite a bit bigger than the 476-litre boot you’ll find in the Ford Focus estate, but both fall well short of the 590 litres a Volkswagen Golf estate offers.
Aside from its decent capacity, the Sports Tourer’s boot is also very usable. With the back seats folded away, the load area is almost completely flat and the small load lip makes getting large items in incident free. Vauxhall’s also boxed off the rear-wheels, leaving a space that is completely rectangular.
The Ford Focus is the obvious choice for anyone looking for a family car that isn’t boring to drive, but the Astra can now be held in the same regard.
It may be stiffer than the Ford, but that tautness never turns into a crashy unrefined ride, although it can feel a little lumpy on poorly surfaced city streets. What the suspension’s stiffness brings is controlled body lean that helps the Sports Tourer feel well tied down in the corners even on bumpy, twisty roads.
The steering might not offer much feel – few systems do these days – but it’s quick enough to make the car feel responsive and its weight helps convey a sense of stability in corners, while keeping the car straight and true on the motorway.
Reviewers say that the woolly feeling brakes let the side down a little, but that would appear to be the only complaint levelled at the new Astra’s driving experience.
Rep mobiles may have been a ’90s phenomenon, but many Sports Tourers will perform a similar role today and potential owners will be glad to hear that it’s an ideal companion for a long drive, with very little noise making its way into the cabin.
The launch of the new Astra coincided with the release of a batch of new engines, so there’s a decent variety to choose from. Most benefit from the silver bullet of turbocharging – combining decent performance with strong fuel economy. Highlights include a tiny 1.0-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel that can return more than 80mpg.
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer petrol engines
Perhaps the 1.0-litre petrol isn’t the best engine if you regularly fill your Sports Tourer with a heavy load but, for those who don’t, the entry-level engine’s small capacity means it’s extremely cheap to run – returning more than 65mpg. It’s not all about being sensible, however – the three-cylinder design means it sounds enthusiastic and the turbo gives it a decent turn of speed without having to thrash it.
The quickest petrol is the 200 1.6-litre but, for us, the 1.4-litre model feels plenty fast enough. It can get from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and rather than offering the peaky power delivery you sometimes get with turbos, it has the feel of a bigger engine – with plenty of power available across the engine’s rev range. Despite this, it averages 52.3mpg fuel economy.
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer diesel engines
The estate’s diesel range comprises three 1.6-litre models offering 109, 134 and 158hp. It’s the least powerful model that wins in the economy stakes, but we would aim squarely for the mid-range version. It can return 72.4mpg, as well as having power in reserve for heavy loads and nipping past slower motorway traffic.
If you want a decent slug of oomph then the top-of-the-range diesel might be in with a shout, it has two turbochargers (rather than one) to let it breeze past long lines of traffic in one swift overtake, while costing little more than the mid-range diesel to run.
Euro NCAP hasn’t specifically tested the Astra estate, but considering it shares the hatchback’s structure there is little reason to doubt its safety credentials. The standard model performed brilliantly, scoring five stars despite being tested under 2015’s extremely tough conditions.
The Astra gets all the safety equipment you’d expect of a modern family car, but you can bolster it by ticking the box for the Driver Assistance Pack One, which bundles together lane assist, automatic emergency braking and traffic sign recognition for £795.
The Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer’s range is based around four core models called Design, Tech Line, SRi and Elite.
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer Design
Even the basic model’s equipment levels are pretty impressive and include a seven-inch touchscreen, air-conditioning, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels and electric windows all round. Dig deeper into the spec sheet and you’ll find touches that suit the Sports Tourer’s practical brief, such as a handy 12v power socket in the boot, roof rails and a Bluetooth phone connection.
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer Tech Line
Tech Line models are the first to get sat-nav as standard and the infotainment system’s screen is bigger – up from seven to eight inches. For your money you also get a leather-bound steering wheel, adjustable front armrest and an upgraded stereo with more powerful speakers.
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer SRi
SRi models give you sporty looks without the high running costs of a proper performance variant. The exterior is kitted out with larger 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and silver roof rails, while inside all but basic 1.4s get a Sport button that weights up the steering and increases the throttle’s sensitivity if you find yourself in the mood for some enthusiastic driving.
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer Elite
Elite models elevate themselves from the rough and tumble of the rest of the range by sporting a plush leather interior and similarly bound steering wheel that also happens to be heated. Both the front and rear seats are also electrically warmed, and climate control means you simply set a temperature and let the ventilation system maintain it automatically.
The new Astra was already an excellent car and the Sport Tourer simply adds a larger, more practical boot to its repertoire. To our minds, its feels nicer inside than a Ford Focus and tauter to drive than a Volkswagen Golf. The engine range which, in the past, often lagged behind the competition, is bang up to date with most models offering a perfect blend of performance and economy. In short, there’s never been a better time to choose an Astra.
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