Review: Vauxhall Astra
I’ve had a soft spot for Vauxhalls ever since I bought an ex-company car Vectra in the early 1990s. I loved that car and polished it to within an inch of its life only for it to be stolen from a car park a few months later. I was gutted.
A Corsa, an Insignia and an Astra followed and they were all good cars in their different ways and suited my style of driving.
This leads us to our test car this week - the eighth generation Vauxhall Astra - which is an absolute stunner.
Its electric yellow paint job may not be to everyone’s taste but I like it and it really makes it stand out in a sea of whites and greys which seem to predominate at the moment.
Vauxhall have made a special effort to make this Astra distinctive with some nice style touches. It has sharp creases and the black roof adds to the overall sleekness and sporty bumpers both front and rear. Diamond cut 18in alloys really set it off.
The interior is just as impressive with more angles and lines. The central touchscreen is angled towards the driver which makes it far easier to use and to see when on the move.
Lots of covered storage bins keep interior clutter to a minimum and all the surfaces are nice to the touch.
As is the norm, many of the vehicle’s functions are accessed via the touchscreen but there are enough toggle switches to keep us oldies happy.
We tested the 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol model which was mated to an eight-speed automatic. On paper this doesn’t seem as though it would be powerful enough but that is not the case. It delivers 128bhp and can go from 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds - so no slouch.
Other engines available on Astra are a four-cylinder 1.5 diesel or a 1.6-litre plug-in hybrid. A fully electric version was launched this year which promises a range of 258 miles.
A six-speed manual gearbox is also available for the petrol versions and there is a estate version for those who need a bit more room in the back.
Astra handles well and gives an all-round comfortable ride that is firm but not too stiff over bumps and rough roads.
It’s quiet and very refined with very little noise intruding into the cabin even at motorway speeds.
There are three trim levels: Design, GS and the Ultimate which we had on test.
As befits the range topper it has all the best kit including parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and speed limiter; heated windscreen, sunroof and suede seats.
Although it has a perfectly adequate navigation system, most people will, like me, probably opt to mirror their smartphone wirelessly for extra convenience.
There are loads of safety features built in - both passive and active including pedestrian detection, traffic alerts and traffic sign recognition.
The interior is roomy and the loadspace practical. Rear seats fold 60:40 and there is a load-through facility via the centre armrest.
Price: £32,215 (£32,915 as tested)
Engine: 1..2 -litre turbo petrol
Transmission:eight speed automatic
Top speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 9.7 seconds
Economy: 48.7-50.4 mpg
CO 2 emissions:125-131g/km