Like the Ford Focus, the Vauxhall Astra is a bit of a household name – and continues to sell well despite having been around almost unchanged for five years. It's slipping down the rankings though, with newer rivals beating the Astra in terms of running costs, practicality and owner satisfaction.
Available as a three or five-door hatchback or a more practical estate, the Vauxhall Astra offers buyers a frankly mind-boggling array of trims and engines – ranging from the basic Expression with a 1.4-litre petrol engine, to the range-topping Elite and Bi-Turbo models.
It's worth noting that Vauxhall's lifetime warranty is only available on new cars and for the first owner – but big discounts should be easily attainable.
- Good-quality interior
- Very comfortable
- Great petrol engines
- Poor resale values
- Lacklustre steering
- Mid and high-spec models expensive
The Vauxhall Astra hatchback has been on sale since 2009. It was facelifted in 2013, but while it still offers decent value for money, the Ford Focus is more fun to drive and the Volkswagen Golf has a much higher-quality interior.
The Astra has a decently sized boot and there's enough room inside for four adults. The dashboard design is taken from the larger Vauxhall Insignia and feels a little cluttered, although mid-spec models come with a reasonable amount of kit.
If you still like the look of the Astra after considering its newer and more accomplished rivals, make sure you haggle a big discount. Vauxhall salesmen are always keen to strike a good deal, so play your cards right and you’ll end up with a decent family-car bargain.
- Quite practical
- Smart styling
- Well judged ride quality
- Not as efficient as rivals
- Poor second-hand values
- Noisy diesel engines
The Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer is one of many hatchback-based estate cars on sale and it stands out as one of the better models in this hotly contested class. Although it's not quite as engaging to drive as the ‘Sports’ part of its name suggests, the Vauxhall Astra estate is a very handy long-distance motorway cruiser, with an interior that's built to a high standard and plenty of head and legroom all round. While the boot is pretty big, it's not the largest in the class, so you may want to look elsewhere if maximum practicality is your biggest requirement.
- Great looks
- Practical for a coupe
- Good ride and handling
- Weak resale values
- Dull steering
- Drab interior
According to its maker, the Vauxhall Astra GTC isn't just one of the best-looking cars on the road, but also one of the most exciting to drive. It's aimed at the likes of the Volkswagen Scirocco and Renault Megane Coupé, and there's no doubt it can match them the style stakes. The Astra's swoopy bodywork and swept-back LED headlamps help it stand out from the crowd. Entry-level models have 18-inch alloy wheels, while larger 19-inch rims are standard on higher-spec cars. Drivers who want even more road presence can pay extra for massive 20-inch wheels – a rare option in this class.
- Stunning looks
- Blisteringly quick
- Comfortable for this class
- Pricey to buy
- Expensive to run
- Renaultsport Megane is better
The Vauxhall Astra VXR sits at the very top of the Astra range and is focused on delivering driving thrills, with sophisticated suspension and a hugely powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. With 276bhp, it's one of the most powerful cars in its class and can accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds. The handling has been tweaked by firming up the suspension to give the VXR as much grip as possible. Despite its extreme nature, the VXR does work as an everyday car, too. The only problem could be the firm ride, which can be uncomfortable on long journeys.