The Vauxhall Astra’s swooping dashboard is nice to look at and well built, but there’s less rear headroom than a Volkswagen Golf and its boot isn’t as well designed
The Astra’s swooping dashboard is easier on the eye than the unimaginative look you get in a VW Golf.
Plastic quality in the Astra is good, if not quite up to the high standards set by the VW. The dashboard and the door cards are constructed from soft-touch materials that successfully cushion the blow of carwow’s scientific flick test, and only when you search below your eyeline will you find less flick-friendly plastics.
Stamping your own identity on the Astra’s interior isn’t easy, though. Design, Tech Line and Energy models get silver trim pieces; SRi and Elite cars get piano-black plastics but that’s your lot in terms of personalisation. Seat fabrics are almost exclusively dark – so hide marks but make the cabin dingy – unless you swap the leather interior in Elite models for the no-cost-option, Athena brown upholstery that drags the interior straight back to the 1980s. You’ll thank yourself for ignoring that option.
The Astra’s interior is just so much better than in previous Vauxhalls
Tech Line and Nav versions of SRi, SRi VX-Line and Elite models get the top-of-the-range 900 IntelliLink infotainment system – all other versions get the basic R4.0 IntelliLink system.
You’ll find little wrong with the latter. It comes with a seven-inch screen and graphics that are sharp but not quite as colourful as rival systems’. Physical buttons make it easy to navigate through menus, and although using the touchscreen is a little hit and miss on the move, alternative models suffer from exactly the same problem.
The best thing about the basic system is that it comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. So, as long as your smartphone’s compatible, you can use its apps – for things like sat-nav and music streaming – on the car’s big screen.
In fact, apart from it having a slightly larger eight-inch screen and integrated sat-nav, there really isn’t much point in spending extra on the 900 IntelliLink system.
Vauxhall’s in-car concierge service, called OnStar, is standard fit on SRi models and above, and a £415 option on the rest of the range. It provides a number of services, such as calling 999 automatically if you crash, tracking and disabling the car if it’s stolen, and providing an in-car WiFi connection. You can even speak to someone on the phone to look for places of interest and have the route automatically uploaded to the car’s sat-nav although, for that, you’ll need to have the upgraded 900 IntelliLink system.
Design and Energy models get a feeble four-speaker stereo. The rest of the range gets a slightly better six-speaker system, but it’s not a patch on the optional 400W Dynaudio stereo available in the VW Golf.