From £12,240
Staple of the Astra range, but far from the best

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Astra 2009-2015
The Astra is now in its sixth incarnation, but it can trace its linage back to 1963's Viva

The Vauxhall Astra is one of the best-looking hatchbacks, but average dynamics and performance hamper its overall appeal

8 October 2009

What is it?

This Astra comes with a normally aspirated 1.6-litre engine and is likely to be one of the sales mainstays of the range. The engine is a carry-over unit from the previous Astra and develops 113bhp at 6000rpm and 114lb ft of torque at 4000rpm.

It uses a five-speed gearbox as standard, though a six-speed automatic transmission is available, albeit for a steep-sounding £1175 premium. Fuel consumption is a reasonable 44.8mpg, emissions an equally acceptable 147g/km.

The car we drove also came with the optional FlexRide chassis, which allows the driver to choose between standard, sport and touring settings for the suspension by way of electronically controlled damping, though other parameters like throttle mapping and steering weighting remain unaltered.

In SE specification this Astra looks expensive at £18,850, so it should be said the engine is available in all five grades, from the entry Exclusiv at £16,650 to top-of-the-range Elite at £19,830.

What’s it like?

Really rather unremarkable. Engine performance is sluggish; the car seems slower than even the claimed modest 10.9sec sprint to 60mph suggests. The engine does at least spread its torque evenly through the rev range, but never suggests it has more than the merest enthusiasm for the job. The five-speed gearbox is good enough, with more sensibly spaced ratios than its six-speed sibling found in other, more expensive Astras.

Otherwise its pretty much as you’d expect: a smart and well built hatchback with conspicuous amounts of interior space and a very high-quality driving environment. But like other Astras, it fails to build upon its showroom appeal once out on the open road.

The FlexRide system works well, but how many will choose to spend a further £425 on it remains to be seen. And even so equipped, it cannot cover the fact that regardless of whether you want a car to ride well or have engaging handling, others in the class do it better.

Should I buy one?

It is quite hard to make a case for this Astra. That there’s no great sparkle to it wouldn’t be quite so disappointing had the rest of the car not promised so much.

However, what really undermines its case is the presence in the range of the 1.4-litre turbo model for just an extra £640, or less than the optional premium lighting pack. This engine not only provides another 25bhp and massively better performance as a result, it is also substantially more refined and has by far the more cheerful nature. Most damning of all, the sweeter, more powerful 1.4 turbo also uses quite a lot less fuel and has lower emissions too.

So while the 1.6 can be seen in isolation as a harmless, inoffensive, high-quality family hatch, the moment it is put even into the context of its own range, let alone competitors like the Focus and Golf, its case falls rapidly and irretrievably apart.

Join the debate

Comments
19

15 October 2009

I wonder if this Russian car will still be treated by the British motoring press as a product of a home brand as were Opels, sorry, Vauxhalls of the past.

15 October 2009

[quote JackB]I wonder if this Russian car will still be treated by the British motoring press as a product of a home brand as were Opels, sorry, Vauxhalls of the past.[/quote]

I think the combination of the British name and the fact 5 door cars will all be made in the UK guarentees it a gentle ride with the press.

This 1.6 sounds a truely awful car, although i am sure Autocar are right that there are MUCH better Astra's at not much more money. But add the 1.4 petrol engine and metallic paint and there wont be much cahnge from £20K.

15 October 2009

So why are Vauxhall selling this engine option?

Is the 1.4 turbo more expensive to build and they need the 1.6 to offer large discounts to fleet buyers?

Obviously it could be the more sensible buy at 5 years old as it will be less abused and have fewer expensive parts to wear out. But no doubt the 1.6 also loses out some chassis tweaks or brake disc diameter?

15 October 2009

i await for the bombardment of statements saying this car is not worth this money! no one pays list prices on cars like this and if you do your a mug to be blunt! i recently took delivery of a new insignia in which i scored a £5000 discount of the new price so really these prices quoted mean nothing it just depends where you buy the car from! anyway nice car vauxhall/opel gm magna whoever i hope it is very sucessful for the sake of the mark and ellesmere port

15 October 2009

I like the look of the Astra but for me it has some major issue. Firstly why is it so expensive? You can get a Golf 1.4SE TSI for over £1500 less. And before anybody mentions discounts, the same applies to the Golf as well. That Golf also has a far superior engine. Vauxhall has shot its self in the foot by not offering the 1.4T as the alternative. Presumably they're trying to match Ford with its poor 1.6?

Lastly, why is it so big? it has no more interior space than a Golf or Focus while offering only a slightly bigger boot than the Golf and a smaller boot than a Focus. Has all the space been used to fit in that massive centre console?

15 October 2009

I completely agree with the stupid pricing.

As a company car driver I go for diesel, and highest spec possible.

New Astra, 1.7 (125) SE spec, list £20,955

Focus, 1.6 Tit spec, list £20,195

Golf, 1.6 SE, list £17,905

My car, Civic, 2.2 ES list £18,315

All 4 of these are similar spec diesel cars and I know Vauxhall and Ford give huge discounts to private cash buyers, but as company car tax is based on list price they both make no sense. The Golf is better built and my Civic has a far higher basic spec.

15 October 2009

Whilst the turbo diesels and turbo petrols are better on the road in the current depressed market it is the discount that reall counts.

Vauxhall are obviously hoping that good reviews for the optimum models will bring in the punters, who will buy this one when they see the discount for this cheap to build version.

Is the model range the same in the rest of Europe or is this only on offer where buyers negotaite big discounts off an inflatesd price list?

15 October 2009

[quote Lee23404]

I like the look of the Astra but for me it has some major issue. Firstly why is it so expensive? You can get a Golf 1.4SE TSI for over £1500 less. And before anybody mentions discounts, the same applies to the Golf as well. That Golf also has a far superior engine. Vauxhall has shot its self in the foot by not offering the 1.4T as the alternative. Presumably they're trying to match Ford with its poor 1.6?

[/quote]

Golf SE is a lower spec overall than an Astra SE trim levels have the same name not the same spec Golf SE is nearer Astra S. Vauxhall do offer a 1.4T in all trim levels Exclusive, S, SRi, SE and Elite. SE is what Vauxhall use to call Design????

15 October 2009

[quote JezyG]

[quote Lee23404]

I like the look of the Astra but for me it has some major issue. Firstly why is it so expensive? You can get a Golf 1.4SE TSI for over £1500 less. And before anybody mentions discounts, the same applies to the Golf as well. That Golf also has a far superior engine. Vauxhall has shot its self in the foot by not offering the 1.4T as the alternative. Presumably they're trying to match Ford with its poor 1.6?

[/quote]

Golf SE is a lower spec overall than an Astra SE trim levels have the same name not the same spec Golf SE is nearer Astra S. Vauxhall do offer a 1.4T in all trim levels Exclusive, S, SRi, SE and Elite. SE is what Vauxhall use to call Design????

[/quote]

I had a look at the Vauxhall website and the only differences I could see were front fog lights, leather steering wheel, 17" wheels, electronic hand brake (don't want one anyway) and fake part leather seats (yuk!). Not worth £1,500 is it? The Golf does come with a proper I-pod connection, much more useful than an electronic hand brake.

I do like the Astra but 6 months down the line it'll sadly be just another hire car special on car supermarket forecourts for £9k. That'll be the time to buy one.

I know Vauxhall offer the 1.4T and that it has slightly more power than the Golf but that's £19,500!

I can't ever remember a time when the Golf was a bargain compared to the Astra and the Astra is even built in the UK.

15 October 2009

[quote Lee23404]

I had a look at the Vauxhall website and the only differences I could see were front fog lights, leather steering wheel, 17" wheels, electronic hand brake (don't want one anyway) and fake part leather seats (yuk!). Not worth £1,500 is it? The Golf does come with a proper I-pod connection, much more useful than an electronic hand brake.

I do like the Astra but 6 months down the line it'll sadly be just another hire car special on car supermarket forecourts for £9k. That'll be the time to buy one.

I know Vauxhall offer the 1.4T and that it has slightly more power than the Golf but that's £19,500!

I can't ever remember a time when the Golf was a bargain compared to the Astra and the Astra is even built in the UK.

[/quote]

Slow down there Lee23404, the Golf SE has good levels of equipment but its still missing serious essentials that the astra SE has as standard. If you add the equipment you highlighted to the golf it starts to get very exspensive.

1. 17 inch seattle alloys with sports suspension (1.5m) extra £505

2. Pearl paint £410 extra

3 The must have MFSW with high line computer (£565), its a must have becasue the standrd golf steering wheel is rubbish !!! its a joke

4.Front fog lights £215

5. Luxury pack (also a must have) £120

Total price of options on 1.6 tdi 105 se

£1,815.00

total cost of car =

£19,135.00

which makes the astra seem good value, but to be honest the golf looks\feels and is a far superior car image wise and badge wise

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