From £12,240
Astra majors on looks, usefulness - and carries more cargo than an Insignia

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

25 October 2010

What is it?

The Astra hatch is currently the UK's best seller in its class. Seems the range is more significant than perhaps we thought. And now, majoring on that UK dimension, Vauxhall launches the rather svelte Sports Tourer, the new name for what used to be called Estate.

See test pics of the Vauxhall Astra ST in action

What's it like?

It's built exclusively at Ellesmere Port as is the Opel version for export to Europe, and the transformation from hatch to estate car was a UK project.

The new body pressings went straight from computer to production tooling, with no physical prototypes in between. That's brave.

A falling upper window line, forward-leaning rear pillars and a wraparound rear window make the Sports Tourer appear sleeker than it is, but the reality is that there's more load space in here than in an Insignia estate, with a maximum load capacity of 1550 litres (versus 1530 litres). The tailgate aperture is bigger, too, thanks to non-intrusive hinges.

This is Vauxhall's practical load-carrier, with high-spec models' rear seat backrests foldable at the touch of an electric switch. That creates an upward slope at the front of the load bay, but you can make it fully flat by flipping the seat cushions forward first. There's a shallow storage area under the boot floor, with a movable aluminium divider. Cargo-carrying options include a moulded liner for the load bay and the FlexOrganiser, which uses rail-mounted nets and dividers to keep loads secure.

Should I buy one?

This is a useful estate, then. It's also remarkably good to drive, provided you choose the right engine and chassis combination. The best one is the 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, a torquey device whose power peak of 138bhp arrives at just 4900rpm, matched to the slightly firmer SRi chassis on its standard 17in wheels.

It rides beautifully, steers with consistent response and weighting and handles with an easy fluidity we hadn't really found in Astras to date. By contrast the non-SRi, fitted with optional 18in wheels, feels more fidgety despite softer suspension and loses the steering sweetness. Vauxhall's engineers – the settings are UK-specific, incidentally – agree.

John Simister

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.4 Turbo SRi

Price: £20,350; Top speed: 125mph; 0-62mph: 9.5sec; Economy: 46.3mp (combined); CO2: 144g/km; Engine type, cc: 4 cyls in line, 1364cc, 16V turbo petrol; Power: 138bhp at 4900rpm; Torque: 148lb ft at 1850-4900rpm; Gearbox 6spd manual

See all the latest Vauxhall Astra reviews, news and video

Join the debate

Comments
25

28 October 2010

Vauxhall's design is getting more classy than VWs... Who would have said that when the Golf IV was the king?

28 October 2010

I agree! I just love the new Astra and Insignia, I still stop and look at them when I pass one. I look forward to seeing the Astra Estate sorry, Sports Tourer in the flesh.

It bothers me that they didn't put an independent suspension in the Astra though.

28 October 2010

i'm just a tad shocked that there are 2 posts in a row by autocar members that are actually giving Vauxhall praise! forgive me if i keel over! I do agree i cant wait to see this sports tourer in the flesh its a classy looking car.

28 October 2010

So much more pleasant than the Nissan Juke at the top of the home page.

Any comment on visibility, Mr Simister? I seem to remember other Vauxhalls have received criticism for problems there in the past.

28 October 2010

Just a shame it's such a badly developed car. I had an Elite for under 3 months, managed to get the finance co to take it back - faulty climate control, jerky running at low speeds, flickering brake lights (almost all suffer this). The owners forums are full of tales of dodgy electric handbrakes, cruise control that doesn't cut out when the clutch is pressed (or the steering wheel buttons pressed) plus issues with the ipod connectivity. I've spoken to one owner who's car had new camshafts because it was sounding like a bag of nails. I'm VERY glad to be rid of mine, and in a moment of madness did consider getting another but have moved to a VAG model.

28 October 2010

I've completed around 10,000 miles in a 1.7 Diesel SRi hatch. I'm afraid to say I haven't experienced any of the faults mentioned above. I've found the Astra to be a very refined, comfortable car with good performance and excellent fuel economy (56 MPG so far). I wasn't convinced about the electric parking brake at first but once used to it I find it more convenient than a conventional handbrake in almost all circumstances. All things considered I've found this car to be the best of its type I've driven.

28 October 2010

[quote smarttony]Just a shame it's such a badly developed car. I had an Elite for under 3 months, managed to get the finance co to take it back - faulty climate control, jerky running at low speeds, flickering brake lights (almost all suffer this). The owners forums are full of tales of dodgy electric handbrakes, cruise control that doesn't cut out when the clutch is pressed (or the steering wheel buttons pressed) plus issues with the ipod connectivity. I've spoken to one owner who's car had new camshafts because it was sounding like a bag of nails. I'm VERY glad to be rid of mine, and in a moment of madness did consider getting another but have moved to a VAG model.[/quote] I knew you were having problems with the climate, didn't know about the rest Tony!

28 October 2010

Good to see the return of decent petrol engines in mainstream cars like the Astra. The Astra Tourer is a big car, yet with the petrol it has decent acceleration, close to 50mpg and the added bonus of not having to deal with stinky noisy diesel and a puff of black smoke every time you punch the accelerator!

28 October 2010

I think this looks good, especially on larger wheels with the higher trim levels. Amazed it can carry more than an Insignia!


28 October 2010

This is a really stylish vehicle, much better than the bland hatch. I'm struck by how large the current Astra is compared to previous models, but I'm susrprised that the carrying capacity of this ST is greater than the Insignia, which looks massive to me.

On appearances the only criticism I would have is of the large, bright silver moulding in the centre of the dash. The Fiesta started this type of design (I think), but its dated quickly, and a more subtle finish would be better.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run