Vauxhall Astra hatchback
Price £12,995 - £25,285
- Good quality interior
- Very comfortable
- Great petrol engines
- Poor resale values
- Lacklustre steering
- Mid and high-spec models expensive
At a glance
"The Vauxhall Astra is a stylish family hatchback with an interior that almost matches the Volkswagen Golf for quality, fit and finish."
The Vauxhall Astra is a family hatchback that competes with models like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. It's one of the best-selling cars in the class and also one of the most stylish. It's getting on a bit now, as it was launched in 2009, but it was a big step-up in quality from the previous model.
The interior, in particular, has the kind of design, fit and finish that almost rivals the Volkswagen Golf. You can have the Astra as a three or five-door hatchback, a performance-focused VXR model, a sporty GTC Coupe, a practical Sport Tourer estate or as a two-door convertible called the Cascada. All versions of the Astra are comfortable and come with a wide choice of engines that offer impressive fuel economy.
There is also an incredible 11 specifications to choose from, including entry-level Expression, Design, ES, Exclusive, Tech Line, Tech Line GT, Energy, SRi, SE, Elite and top-of-the-range Bi-Turbo. All-in-all the Astra is a solid, dependable, stylish and well-rounded family hatchback – but it does have one major drawback: depreciation. Resale values for Vauxhalls are among the worst of any car manufacturer. Still, if you’re prepared to haggle hard for a decent discount from list price, you can avoid taking too much of a financial hit.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Diesel engines offer competitive economy and first owners get a lifetime warranty
The diesel engines in the Astra range offer impressive economy. The 1.7-litre ecoFLEX is the most economical. It uses stop-start technology and manages 76.3mpg and 99g/km CO2 – making it free to tax. The 1.3-litre diesel is also very cheap to run, with fuel economy of 72mpg. The petrol engines aren’t as good, though, and are some way off competing with the excellent range of EcoBoost petrol engines that come with the Ford Focus. One big selling point to the Astra, though, is the lifetime warranty that will cover owners for an unlimited number of years and up to 100,000 miles.
Interior & comfort
Very comfortable but space in the rear is tight
You’ll struggle to find a family hatchback that can beat the Astra when it comes to comfort. It has a really cushioning suspension setup that does a superb job of easing you over bumps and potholes and makes it a fantastic long-distance cruiser.
Space in the rear of the car is a bit on the tight side, though, which is partly down to the Astra's stylish design. That swooping roofline may look nice, but it really cuts into the available headroom in the back seats. The rear windows are tiny, too, which helps to make the car feel a bit claustrophobic from the back. The interior is decent quality, though, and buyers who need more interior space could always look at the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer estate.
Practicality & boot space
Practicality is on a par with main rivals
Space in the rear of the car is compromised slightly by the low roofline, but you can fit five adults into the Astra. The cabin has been laid out thoughtfully, too, and there are plenty of useful storage cubbyholes dotted around. The dashboard is a bit cluttered with buttons, which can make it a bit fiddly and confusing to use, but you would soon get used to it, and the boot is a decent 351 litres. That's a bit bigger than the boot in the Ford Focus and slightly smaller than the Volkswagen Golf's boot, although the three-door version of the Astra has a 380-litre boot. Folding rear seats come as standard and fold down to expand space to a very useable 1,216 litres.
Reliability & safety
Reliability should be guaranteed by its lifetime warranty
The Astra should prove to be pretty reliable – and even if it isn’t, Vauxhall's lifetime warranty ensures that you’ll get any issues that crop up repaired for free until the car's mileage passes the 100,000-mile mark. The car did drop out of the Driver Power Top 100 Cars league table in 2013 (finishing at 103), though, and Vauxhall fared poorly overall, dropping from mid-table in 2012 to 26th out of 32 in the manufacturer rankings.
Still, the Astra is very safe - it was awarded the maximum five-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests. All models come with six airbags, traction control, ABS, ISOFIX points for child seats and electronic stability control as standard. You can also add active head restraints to SRi, Elite and Bi-Turbo models.
Engines, drive & performance
Not the greatest handling car and basic engines are sluggish
The Astra is competent on the road rather than exciting. It offers decent levels of grip, accurate steering, and reasonable cornering ability. It's not a match for the Ford Focus in this department, but then the Astra has been engineered with comfort given a priority over sporty handling. The entry-level petrol engines – a 1.4-litre and a 1.6-litre – both feel a bit underpowered and sluggish on motorways.
The diesel engines and the turbocharged petrol units both offer decent performance. If you’re looking to improve the Astra's comfort levels still further you can add Vauxhall's Flexride system as an optional extra, but be warned: it's expensive, and the Astra is really comfortable without it. Also be careful of SRi spec models as they come with sports suspension that has a stiffer ride.
Price, value for money & options
Entry-level models look cheap but mid and high spec cars are expensive
Starting prices for the Astra look really competitive but entry-level Expression models aren’t particularly well equipped compared to rivals. Higher specification cars are really quite expensive – and some versions of the Volkswagen Golf actually undercut like-for-like spec Astras. There will be far more room to do a deal on an Astra than there is on rival cars, though – and you will need to haggle hard because resale values are weak, so unless you get the price down you will bit hit hard financially when it comes time to sell the car on.
All models get air-con, iPod connectivity and electric front-windows as standard. You’ll need to upgrade to SE spec to get alloy wheels, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, and a trip computer. Top spec Elite cars get decent equipment levels, including dual-zone climate control and heated front seats. Vauxhall's warranty is one of the best on the market and will cover the first owner for the lifetime of the car or up to 100,000 miles. If you buy a nearly-new Astra, you will only be covered up until the car's third birthday or 60,000 miles.
What the others say
"There's no getting away from the fact that buying an Astra is an expensive exercise. Take a look at the price lists and you’ll discover the more talented and equally well-equipped VW Golf undercuts the Vauxhall."
"The Astra looks great inside and out, and its cabin is built from high-quality plastics. It's brilliant at shutting out road noise, too, and the ride is superb."