Vauxhall Astra hatchback
- Good-quality interior
- Very comfortable
- Great petrol engines
- Poor resale values
- Lacklustre steering
- Mid and high-spec models expensive
"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 compact family hatchback competing with the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. Featuring a sleek interior design, high-quality materials and decent practicality, plus an extensive range of petrol and diesel engines, the British-built Astra is a solid and sensible choice, despite its advancing years (it's been around for five years now).
Like its rivals, the Astra has room for five adults at squeeze, a decent sized boot and plenty of interior storage. But it's undermined by relatively high list prices and a rather confusing trim line-up.
Still, all versions get air-conditioning, electric front windows and remote central locking. Pick of the line-up is the Tech Line, which is priced well and includes all the essential kit, such as sat nav, a USB port, a Bluetooth phone connection and a DAB digital radio.
There's a wide range of engines to choose from, including six petrols and seven diesels. The entry-level 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrols are a little underpowered and best avoided, while the 1.3-litre and 1.7-litre CDTi diesels are noisy.
The 163bhp 2.0-litre CDTi and 192bhp BiTurbo diesels are smoother and accelerate strongly, but for most buyers the 1.6-litre CDTi diesel provides the best blend of performance, efficiency and refinement.
The low-power 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol engines get a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, while all other versions get a six-speed gearbox, which is better suited to motorway driving.
The Astra isn’t fun to drive, but it's one of the most refined cars of its type, with very little road or wind noise. It's safe, too: all models get six airbags, electronic stability control and a five-star rating from Euro NCAP. And despite its age, the Astra is available with hi-tech driver aids, such as blind-spot monitoring and traffic-sign recognition.
The Vauxhall Astra has higher emissions and fuel consumption than many of its family hatchback rivals
Underpowered petrol engines means that diesel is best for the Vauxhall Astra, but refinement is good
The Vauxhall Astra has a neatly styled interior and air-conditioning is standard on all models
The Vauxhall Astra has plenty of room inside and boot space is on par with most of its rivals'
Tried-and-tested GM parts mean reliability should be guaranteed