When I first reviewed the Vauxhall Astra for its launch in Liverpool a year ago, I was struck by how the car makes a bold statement for the top of its class. I was hugely impressed by its capabilities in all sectors, the responsiveness of the drive and how enjoyable it was to be behind the wheel.
I recently had one on a longer loan, to get to grips with how it performs with everyday use under a range of different driving conditions. Suffice to say, I was just as impressed. Here’s my revisited review of the new Vauxhall Astra.
Having not seen the car up close for a while, I was still impressed by how much Vauxhall have managed to design the car in a way that stands out in the class. Let’s be honest, it looks a step above a lot of other cars in this sector, and is a huge improvement from the design identity of previous generations. It’s a bit 1-series BMW from the back, and has long, confident lines that exemplify a more modern approach. It looks good inside too, there’s an element of quality that arguably was missing from the old Astra – it’s a sleek looking car that stands out and Vauxhall have to be praised for this.
Some of the most interesting and useful changes to the Vauxhall Astra though come in the form of all the stuff you can’t see. A big thing is made of weight reduction here, and it’s noticeable how much this seemed to have contributed to very good mpg figures on a long run. I averaged more than 60mpg from the diesel test car, and I wasn’t slouching. Economy wise in general, the Astra is an affordable car to run, being cheaper than rivals such as the Golf to run and purchase, despite potentially having less residual value in the long term when it comes to selling on.
There’s a good range of engines, and I got to spend a bit more time with diesel powerplant which I thoroughly enjoyed. Although very little is made of the Astra’s sporting credentials, and understandable so, the 1.6 engine I tested had a good kick to it and delivered power very well indeed for a car that doesn’t shout about it. In fact, as a hatch in its own right the new Astra Driving the car on the twisty stuff, the heavier diesel engine evidently affected the ride and handling, but I believe the Astra remains one of the most engaging drives in its sector for the money. Driving the B roads of Cornwall in the Astra, the car felt planted and agile, in much the same way in which I’d experienced in in Wales.
The improved quality of the Astra’s interior is backed up by a high spec – with Vauxhall’s OnStar system and app providing some added value that’s missing from other cars in this segment. There is some genuine quality in the cabin, with piano black trim and a crystal-clear quality to both the instrument panels and the infotainment screen – everything’s accessible and the navigation is by far one of the best systems in the sector.
The latest Vauxhall Astra is an excellent combination of the things you’d look for in a car like this, and in many cases outdoes its rivals. It is well refined, with some sharp driving characteristics backed up by a good range of petrol and diesel engines that pack more punch than you feel they should. Vauxhall have been brave enough to stick themselves on the line with the new Astra by launching some groundbreaking technology in the sector, and it has paid off, making you feel like you’re getting a lot of car for the money. The reality is you do – I was really impressed by the fuel consumption and overall costs of running a new Astra, and it’s also a very comfortable drive, providing excellent space and comfort for driver and passengers despite the car being slightly smaller than the outgoing car.
The latest Vauxhall Astra has won compact car of the year and it’s easy to see why…it is almost certainly the best Astra that has been release – boasting a combination of excellent space and practicality, affordability, refinement and a surprisingly agile and immersive driving experience. This is one car that I would not hesitate to own in this segment.