From £14,5408
The most powerful diesel in the new Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer range has 158bhp and two turbos. We tried it in France

Our Verdict

Seventh generation Vauxhall Astra
The seventh-generation Vauxhall Astra seems to be a collection of General Motors' latest and greatest technology

Is it seventh time lucky for Vauxhall’s British-built Focus fighter?

14 March 2016

What is it?

It’s the estate version of the current Vauxhall Astra, called the Sports Tourer. We've driven the most potent diesel in the range: a 1.6-litre twin turbo that produces 158bhp.

Vauxhall has put the new Sports Tourer on a crash diet, saving weight by using high-strength steel in the body, and even fitting a lighter exhaust and smaller wheels. It’s done the job; the new model weighs up to 190kg less than the old car, which should make it a much more agile thing to drive.

Unlike most cars, which seem to grow with every new iteration, the designers at Vauxhall have kept the Sports Tourer's dimensions roughly the same as before. However, by stretching the wheelbase and playing with the packaging, they’ve created more interior space, so much so that the Sports Tourer is now on par with the roomiest rivals, including the Skoda Octavia Estate.

There’s heaps of new tech as well. New optional features include adaptive LED headlights and a powered tailgate with hands-free opening and closing. MirrorLink and Apple CarPlay are standard, giving better integration of your smartphone with the standard 8.0in infotainment screen.

It’s even got OnStar, which delivers onboard wifi for up to seven devices. On top of this you get 24-hour access to a call centre that will provide emergency assistance in the event of an accident, as well as download addresses to the sat-nav, so you don't have to fiddle with the screen while driving.

What's it like?

This engine, which is only available on SRi and Elite trims, isn't one of the new whisper-quiet "Whisper" diesels used elsewhere in the range. Even so, it's mechanically smooth when you rev it, and although it gets a bit boomy past 3000rpm, it’s not unpleasant to rev out. The only issue is some vibration through the controls at around 2500rpm.

It performs well, though. The two turbos are differently sized; there's a smaller one for quicker low-end response, and a larger one for extra surge at higher revs. The upshot is good pick-up from 1500rpm through to 4000rpm, at which point it feels spent.

The six-speed manual is not the most precise gearbox we’ve tried, but it’s light and the ratios feel well spread. For cruising, the leggy sixth gear keeps the engine quiet, while motoring along the French Autoroutes we found road and wind noise pretty hushed, too.

On twistier Alpine sections of road, the Sports Tourer’s decent dynamics come in to play. The springs are firm enough to keep bodyroll well checked, and the damping – no doubt aided by the reduced weight – is nicely judged to remove any extreme vertical movement, even on undulating sections.

The nose turns in sharply, but the steering could do with more sparkle to tell you what the front tyres are up to. The Astra's wooly brake pedal, while ultimately effective at stopping you, lets down what's clearly a car that's had some engineering budget thrown at it. This is frustrating because it feels like it wouldn't take much to shift this Astra from good, to dynamically great.

Diesel Astras seem firmer and more prone to fidgeting over patchy roads than the petrols, and this version is no different. That said, it manages to keep the right side of the comfort line, soothing out the worst of general lumps and bumps. 

You get a fine driving position with loads of adjustment, although if you go for the SRi model, we’d recommend the optional lumbar adjustment (standard on the Elite), without which the seat backs feel a little flat.

The enlarged cabin pays dividends, offering enough space for four large adults, or five if the rear passengers don’t mind some thigh rubbing, and the boot is a decent size, too. At 530 litres with the rear seats in place, it’s good enough for the annual family holiday, and at 1630 litres with the 40/20/40 split rear seats folded flat, it’ll manage less glamorous jobs like trips to the tip. And loading it is easy, thanks to the wide boot aperture and low floor height.

Like the hatchback, the new Sports Tourer feels more polished inside than before. The spread of buttons that were scattered across the dashboard of the old car have been replaced by thoughtfully grouped controls, and a mostly fathomable infotainment system. Meanwhile, the use of plusher trims and chrome highlights help distance it from the likes of the Ford Focus, nudging it further towards Skoda's Octavia in terms of quality.

Should I buy one?

The new Astra Sports Tourer is an easy car to recommend, slotting in neatly somewhere between an Octavia and Focus for dynamics and practicality: it's both good to drive and spacious. It's the consummate family hack, which also offers a sprinkling of enjoyment when you've ditched the kids at a sleepover and it’s just you and a clear road in front.

We’re yet to drive the 134bhp diesel in the estate, but if it’s anything like as good as the hatch version, it’ll most likely be the diesel to buy with its better blend of performance and economy. However, if you fancy a bit more pace with your space, this 1.6 CDTi 160 is well worth a test drive.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 160 BiTurbo SRi Nav Sports Tourer

Location France; Price £23,385; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, twin turbo, diesel; Power 158bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 258lb ft at 1500-2250rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1435kg; Top speed 137mph; 0-60mph 8.4sec; Economy 67.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 112g/km, 22%

Join the debate

Comments
24

15 March 2016
Not much point reviewing these. The only specification that matters on these is how many work-group printers will it fit in the back. No one with a choice is ever going to pick one off the company car list. Will be driven by those given no choice and with a large quota of printers to install in a day (until they lose their licences), next stop in its life is sold off cheap at a car supermarket and bought by a builder who will run it until it falls apart. Breakers yard.

15 March 2016
Cant wait for your non-review/stating the beeping obvious for the life of a washing machine..... Of course loads of these cars are going to live that life, so what? What sort of life would you have liked for them? Swanning off to exotic places? Driving Kings and Queens around?? Of course not, they're work horses. Lucky printer delivery blokes if you ask me, better than the junk we had to drive around in 30 odd years ago...

15 March 2016
If this had a german car badge everyone would be singing its praises. Waiting for winnie the woo saying this is a turd etc (his vw is miles better of course it has a german badge!). Simply there is not much between many cars now which for the consumer is good - the astra is very good value 2nd hand - not everyone has 25k to buy a golf, or wants to lease a car for two years and start again. I do believe the german marques 2nd hand values are currently falling due to over supply in the market, and you can tell by the current GFV given. BMW merc and audi are doing exactly what ford and vauxhall did years ago - trying to be number 1 seller - sod the price we sell a car for just get a car sale.

15 March 2016
gazza5 wrote:
If this had a german car badge everyone would be singing its praises. Waiting for winnie the woo saying this is a turd etc (his vw is miles better of course it has a german badge!). Simply there is not much between many cars now which for the consumer is good - the astra is very good value 2nd hand - not everyone has 25k to buy a golf, or wants to lease a car for two years and start again. I do believe the german marques 2nd hand values are currently falling due to over supply in the market, and you can tell by the current GFV given. BMW merc and audi are doing exactly what ford and vauxhall did years ago - trying to be number 1 seller - sod the price we sell a car for just get a car sale.
gazza, perhaps he would like it more if it was badged Opel as it will be in Eire and mainland Europe.. Also I totally agree about the so called "Premium" German marques doing a Ford/Vauxhall, I wonder how many 3 series, Passats and A4's are actually sold privately.

15 March 2016
Well I be never. Vauxhalls have always had the most uncomfortable seats this side of sitting on a rock in my book because of their excessive non-adjustable padding in the lumbar area. So they finally realised this was awfully uncomfortable and have done the opposite but making them too flat in the process. Bless.

15 March 2016
NeufNeuf wrote:
Well I be never. Vauxhalls have always had the most uncomfortable seats this side of sitting on a rock in my book because of their excessive non-adjustable padding in the lumbar area. So they finally realised this was awfully uncomfortable and have done the opposite but making them too flat in the process. Bless.
I have always found the backrests, especially on the Astra to twisted with the side nearest centre slightly forward, thus probably creating the illusion of more space, but leaving you angled away from the straight ahead, not by much, but enough to make it uncomfortable on longer journeys.

15 March 2016
The latest Astra keeps getting good reviews from car mags..I wonder if any of these badge snobs who continually decry the car have actually driven one.

15 March 2016
I think all GM has to do is change the badge to Opel and watch the sales fly in the UK , sad reflection of our country really.

15 March 2016
I know it sounds snobby but I am just being realistic, and good car it may be, but the truth is it will be sold in bulk onto leases at vast discount and handed over to employees. The resulting residuals will make a straight lease expensive compared to the more desirable (and quite possibly inferior!) German metal. Your a company car driver, you get given the company list all the cars cost you the same, how many would put a Vauxhall on the drive instead of a Golf or even a 318d?

15 March 2016
The Apprentice wrote:
..but the truth is it will be sold in bulk onto leases at vast discount and handed over to employees. ..... Your a company car driver, you get given the company list all the cars cost you the same, how many would put a Vauxhall on the drive instead of a Golf or even a 318d?
Bit of a contradiction, one minute it's sold at a vast discounts and sold in bulk then you say who'd pick one over a 318d or Golf, Lease companies don't buy cars they can't lease! Also, I’d be surprised if the majority of companies always group a 318d and Astra together and at the same cost to the employee and by your own earlier statement they’re unlikely to. As to your first post, what’s wrong with putting printer’s in the back of an estate?

 

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