Vauxhall Astra hatchback - Engines, drive & performance
Least powerful Vauxhall Astra engines might struggle, but there’s plenty of choice if you want more grunt
The Astra’s big weight drop compared to its predecessor contributes to swifter acceleration and better handling across the range. It has plenty of grip and rides well enough most of the time but can become frustratingly bouncy on uneven roads. All of the controls are easy to operate, from the light but accurate steering to the light clutch, but the gearlever connected to the six-speed manual gearbox feels a little loose at times.
And unlike the previous Astra, the sportier trim levels don’t have harsher suspension – differences to ride quality are only due to the wheel and tyre combination you go for, but even on sporty SRi models with bigger wheels, things remain reasonably composed.
Vauxhall Astra diesel engines
Badged Turbo D, the new 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel engine is available with 104bhp or 122bhp, and both come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 10.2 seconds or 9.7 seconds respectively, while both can manage a top speed of at least 124mph. The 122bhp version is offered with a nine-speed automatic gearbox for the first time, but its acceleration is about half a second slower.
On the road, the diesel offers up relaxed acceleration and feels punchy once the revs pass 1,800rpm. It's quiet too, giving the Astra a demeanour that might not be exciting but is certainly relaxing.
Four petrol engines are available - three versions of the 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo, and a single 1.4-litre with a CVT automatic gearbox. You can choose your 1.2-litre with 108bhp, 128bhp or 143bhp, dropping the 0-62mph time from 9.8 seconds to 9.3 and then to 8.8 respectively, with an impressive 137mph top speed for such a small engine. The 1.4-litre automatic takes nine seconds.