Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer estate
"The Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer is a widely improved model, with more style, more advanced technology and better practicality than its predecessor"
- Strong range of engines
- Impressive value
- Great to drive
- Golf rides more comfortably
- Not as practical as some rivals
- Residual values may not be great
The Vauxhall Astra has long felt like a model constantly playing catch-up, but not anymore. Just like the hatchback version, the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer estate is one of the best cars in its class and it also has more space than its predecessor.
Being so highly regarded is an impressive feat, because rivals are numerous and accomplished, with models like the upmarket Volkswagen Golf Estate, fun Ford Focus Estate and SEAT Leon ST, along with the load-lugging Peugeot 308 SW, Honda Civic Tourer and Skoda Octavia Estate all posing a serious threat.
The Astra successfully blends being one of the most fun-to-drive cars in its class with excellent comfort and refinement, so it shouldn’t disappoint on a country road or a long motorway schlep.
In early 2020, the Astra line-up was refreshed with a series of styling and technology updates, plus a revised range of three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Every version of the turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine is capable of over 52mpg, with the 109bhp entry-level version feeling a bit more strained under acceleration in the estate than it does in the lighter hatchback. The same engine is also available in 128bhp and 143bhp versions, which are more capable while offering similar fuel economy.
A larger 1.4-litre petrol engine is also offered, producing 143bhp. It’s the only unit in the Sport Tourer line-up that’s available with an automatic gearbox. Despite the extra capacity, it's only marginally faster than the smaller petrol engine, and manages around 48mpg making it difficult to recommend.
With 104bhp, or 120bhp, both versions of the 1.5-litre diesel engine feel well matched to the Sports Tourer and offer enough power and economy for most drivers. Both engines are capable of over 60mpg, and comply with the stricter RDE2 emissions regulations, meaning they avoid the additional 4% BiK surcharge for company-car drivers.
Of course, to be worth its salt, the Sports Tourer needs to offer a large enough boot, and while 540 litres of space should be easily enough for most families, it does lag behind the class leaders. The Peugeot 308 SW is the biggest, with 660 litres, while the Skoda Octavia Estate boasts 640 litres and the latest Ford Focus estate offers 608 litres. Folding down the Sport Tourer’s rear seats frees up an impressive 1,630 litres of space. It’s a usefully shaped boot, too, with a low and flat loading lip to avoid snagging heavier items. The interior is spacious enough as well, with plenty of room for adults in the rear seats.
As part of the 2020 facelift, the Sport Tourer line-up was slimmed down to three trim levels. Entry-level SE cars are well equipped, with alloy wheels and a neat seven-inch touchscreen offering DAB digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity, along with cruise control and air-conditioning.
Our favourite version is the SRi Nav trim, which gets additional kit including Vauxhall’s driver assistance pack, LED headlights and sports seats.
It’s reassuring to know the Astra hatchback also has a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, which should also apply to the mechanically identical Sports Tourer. The Vauxhall comes with an array of airbags as standard, while the SRi Nav trim has a system to automatically warn you of an impending collision and brake automatically if you don’t respond, avoiding (or reducing the severity of) an impact. The Vauxhall Astra finished 59th out of the 75 cars ranked in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK, with strong scores for its engines and gearboxes, ride and handling and running costs.
The Astra has come a long way, and in Sports Tourer estate form the model has never been a better all-rounder. It’s comfortable, good to drive and has plenty of space for customers with an active lifestyle or family adventures.