Vauxhall Astra hatchback - Interior & comfort
The Vauxhall Astra has a stylish and cleverly designed interior that matches anything you’ll find in rivals
Vauxhall interiors have been getting better and better of late and the Astra was no exception when it arrived. It provided a notable upgrade over previous versions, with plenty of soft-touch materials to give a high-quality feel, but it's due to be replaced soon and is starting to feel its age. It’s an easy car to get in and out of and a comfortable one once you’re inside.
Vauxhall Astra dashboard
Like many car dashboards these days, the Astra’s is dominated by a large touchscreen that controls many of the on-board functions (either seven or eight inches depending on the exact trim level). We found it easier to operate than some rivals' systems and it allows you to 'mirror' your iPhone or other smartphone’s screen with a minimum of fuss. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is standard, too.
The screen is surrounded by classy piano-black and bright chrome-effect trims. With just a few physical buttons on the infotainment system and air-con controls lower down on the dash, it’s nicely neat and uncluttered. It is, however, rather traditional compared with the latest fashion for wide screens which span across the dashboard and behind the steering wheel. While it looks less striking, we actually find it more intuitive than the Golf's setup, with physical knobs for the climate control proving much easier to use than the VW's touch-sensitive sliders.
There’s another screen right in front of you, set between the rev counter and speedometer, which features one of our few gripes with the Astra – it goes up in increments of 20mph, making it hard to pinpoint the important 30 and 70mph marks. Elite Nav Premium versions get a new eight-inch digital instrument cluster in place of analogue gauges.
The Vauxhall Astra is offered in several different trim levels. Entry-level Business Edition Nav gets you 16-inch alloys, air-con, DAB radio, a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen, sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and electric front and rear windows.
The SRi Nav model gets sport seats and LED headlights, along with 17 inch alloy wheels, an electric handbrake and extra safety kit. The Griffin Edition gets bigger 18-inch bi-colour alloys, privacy glass, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, along with a black roof. Top of the range is the Vauxhall Astra Elite Nav, which adds luxury touches such as an eight inch display and digital instrument cluster, ergonomic leather seats, dual-zone climate control and rear-seat USB chargers.
Luxury kit from the Elite can be added to lesser models at a price, but it can be worth it if you like things such as highly adjustable comfortable seats. IntelliLux matrix beam LED headlights, which allow you to use main beam all the time without dazzling oncoming drivers, cost £1,500. They’re difficult to justify, as they take a split second too long to react and we felt that the full beam spread could be wider.
The Winter Pack is a good option for the SRi Nav trim, adding heated seats, a heated steering wheel and extra vents for rear passengers for less than £500. A cost of £50 for two extra USB sockets for rear passengers is somewhat stingy though - with most of the Astra’s rivals offering these as standard.
If you go for a top-spec Astra or dip into the options list, it's one of the most technologically advanced family hatchbacks on sale. The touchscreen is big and pretty easy to read, although some colours aren't as bright or vibrant as they could be. However, the matt finish means it's easy to read in bright sunlight and it's easy to operate thanks to physical buttons lined up along the bottom.
The Astra features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and they work very well through the car's system. The sat-nav system, where fitted, is easy to use with clear voice guidance and visual guidance on the car's main screen and supplementary screen in between the dials. When we used it, the point of interest search could have been more comprehensive, but it's not too difficult to find places. When we deliberately took a wrong turn, it rerouted quickly.
The Astra has an impressive list of driving safety and assistance systems, too. You can add all-round parking sensors and a camera, as well as a self-parking system which we found is very easy to use and parks the car very well. There's also autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and the previously-mentioned LED headlights.