Vauxhall Astra hatchback
Price £15,295 - £23,520
- Powerful and frugal engines
- Lots of technology
- Good to drive
- Less desirable than a Golf
- Rivals have longer warranties
- Residual values may not be the best
At a glance
"Vauxhall’s best-selling Astra hatchback has edged nearer to the top of the family hatchback class."
The latest Vauxhall Astra is the seventh-generation model and has plenty of heritage. It's long been one of the best-selling family hatchbacks in the UK but despite strong sales, previous versions have always been a little behind the best in class. Things could be different with this new model, though, because it has upped its game in just about every area. Rivals such as the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, Kia Cee’d, Hyundai i30 and Honda Civic now face much stiffer competition from the Astra.
Vauxhall has shaved up to 200kg (depending on the model) off the Astra compared to the last version, so it's a lot lighter. The engines have been significantly updated, too, really improving the car's performance and fuel economy. Despite these enhancements, the new Astra has a lower starting price than before – while it also manages to be both slightly shorter and more spacious inside than its predecessor.
The suspension has been well set up for potholed UK roads and absorbs bumps well – but it isn’t soft to the point of causing the Astra to lean or bounce around too much, so it strikes a good balance.
Petrol engines for the Astra start with a basic 1.4-litre and are followed by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo (familiar from the smaller Vauxhall Adam and Vauxhall Corsa models), a turbocharged 1.4-litre with either 123 or 148bhp and a 197bhp 1.6-litre turbo.
Three different versions of Vauxhall's 1.6-litre ‘Whisper’ diesel engine (so called because it's very quiet) are available, with 109, 134 and 158bhp respectively. The 109bhp diesel is the most economical Astra in the range (managing 85mpg) plus it emits 88g/km of CO2 so it's free to tax.
Fresh styling has brought the Astra right up to date. It looks smarter than before, with sharp lines, a coupe-style flick to the rear window and headlights that merge into the grille.
The interior has also been updated for the better. Vauxhall's large ‘IntelliLink’ touchscreen infotainment system dominates the centre console and piano-black trim stretches across the dash. It's all very clean and smart and there are only six buttons around the screen itself, so the front of the cabin appears uncluttered.
The Astra is smaller outside than before, but rear-seat passengers now have 35mm more kneeroom and there's also a lot of headroom, defying the sloping shape of the roof. The boot is one thing that hasn’t changed – at 370 litres, it's the same size as the old Astra's, while also being reasonably easy to access.
There are seven trim levels: Design, Tech Line, Energy, SRi, SRi Nav, Elite and Elite Nav. Even the entry-level Design model has an impressive amount of standard equipment, as it includes cruise control, all-round electric windows, DAB digital radio, alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, a colour touchscreen, air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity and six airbags.
Further up the range, features such as sat nav, leather seats and bigger alloy wheels make an appearance, as does Vauxhall's OnStar concierge and emergency support service. Options include dual-zone climate control, and an electric driver's seat with a massaging function and clever 'adaptive' headlights that allow you to use high beam all the time without dazzling oncoming drivers.
New Vauxhall Astra boasts advanced ‘Whisper’ diesel engines that promise superb efficiency
Least powerful Vauxhall Astra engines might struggle, but there’s plenty of choice if you want more grunt
New Vauxhall Astra has a stylish and cleverly designed interior that matches anything you’ll find in rivals
Boot and interior space are plentiful, so the new Vauxhall Astra is a good choice for growing families
The new Vauxhall Astra should be dependable in the long run and safe in a crash