As my year in the Astra edges towards a conclusion, I need to ask you a question – the answer to which will pretty much define whether this test has been in any way worthwhile. The short, very simple, version is this: would you buy a Vauxhall Astra?
Sounds daft to ask, of course. After all, that’s why I’ve been running the car: to answer the question for you. Regular readers will know that my views broadly mirror that of the original four-star road test verdict. Here is a car that is vastly better than its predecessor, is generally pleasing and practical to travel in, includes some ground-breaking connectivity tech and delivers some head-turning economy figures but is fractionally uninspiring to drive. Overall, though, I’d recommend the Astra as family transport.
But, but, but… already I reckon I’ve lost nine out of 10 of you, because nobody – and I mean nobody – I’ve met aspires to own a Vauxhall Astra. Previously, I’ve pondered the power of badge snobbery, but never have I felt its effects so powerfully.
My wife drives a Renault, which, with all due respect, is hardly a powerhouse badge. Yet she loves it. The Astra, in contrast, is greeted with disdain. Neighbours, who know my job and see a variety of cars parked nearby, make enquiries as to whether I’m “in the doghouse again at work” when I park up in the Astra. If I don’t take the Astra home in the evening, there is no queue of colleagues wanting to borrow it.
Why is this? I fear the Vauxhall badge and the Astra name conjure up nothing more than images of a repdriven car that many are forced to drive but few choose to. It’s a crying shame, because today’s car is so much more than that, but I fear the vast majority of you who respond will simply say you wouldn’t consider one.