We recommend it as family transport but its keeper has a vital question for you
Jim Holder
21 December 2016

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. 

VAUXHALL ASTRA 1.6 CDTI 136PS SRI NAV

Price new £21,480 Price as tested £23,800 Economy 58.4mpg Faults Tyre pressure warning lights Expenses None Last seen 19.10.16

Read our previous reports here: 

First report

Battling badge snobbery

Technology test 

The pros of OnStar connectivity

Our Verdict

Seventh generation Vauxhall Astra

Is it seventh time lucky for Vauxhall’s British-built Astra, as it takes the fight to the Ford Focus and Skoda Octavia for hatchback supremacy

Join the debate

Comments
52

21 December 2016
...but a key part of the reason people don't consider it is that other cars of its size have more appealing attributes. Not least the fact that if you were to buy a new one with cash - and yes, people still buy cars with plain cash, you'd have little value left in a two years.

You cant succeed at anything if you are brilliant at being mediocre. The design has little to tempt the buyer - not to say it is 'ugly'. The interior design has little to tempt the buyer - not to say it is 'uncomfortable'. The badge has no real appeal above and beyond 'ordinary' - not to say that the name has any less appeal than, say, Kia.

But Kias have a 7 year warranty, and look reasonably smart (in comparison). A 1 Series may not be the first in prestige and luxury, but it looks classy and has a more appealing badge. A VW Golf has squashy plastics and effective interior lighting, and is built better - altough not necessarily more reliable - and looks classier.

Looking smart, squashy plastics, image, style, interior space, warranty, residuals - whatever, BUT - whether its Kia, Ford, VW, BMW...The competition trump the Astra.

No matter how brilliant it is at being ordinary. Or no matter how ordinary it is at being brilliant.

21 December 2016
the badge thing is completely out of control in this country (maybe in others too)

21 December 2016
Bullfinch wrote:

the badge thing is completely out of control in this country (maybe in others too)

Out of control! What do you recommend, martial law?

Perhaps the complete ownership package/experience provided by the premium marques is simply better than what is offered by the middle ground.

21 December 2016
Well luckily for GM, the UK, Europe and China are not your wife. It's still one of the top 5 biggest selling hatchbacks across the world. So someone is obviously buying them. The question you should be asking yourself is not the one that was very obviously and quickly answered but this:

Why does what other people think of your car choice matters to you? Are they paying for it? Refueling it? No. So really, who gives a damn? Some self reflection on your own personal insecurities is the real issue. Not a plastic badge.

3

21 December 2016
No I wouldnt buy one new. Why? Because if you can have a small Audi/BMW et la for approx same money, why wouldn't you? It's not that I'm a particular fan of the German cars, but the Astra will be a depreciation disaster.

But secondhand? That's a different story. There will be lots of bargains to be had, and I'm not a badge snob - I go for the best value for my money! Yet I still wouldn't have a Vauxhall - GM products have long lost the engineering and build quality they once had, and I've seen too many friends stuck with frustrating, worthless money pits, which the manufacturer doesn't care about.

Vauxhall is another example of a manufacturer who's thrown away a once respected reputation, and that's nobodies fault except thier own.

21 December 2016
Vauxhall have always made the most mundane cars. Their designs rarely stand the test of time. Go to aa classic car show and you won't see many Vauxhalls. Most rotted away in their first couple fo years, but worse than that, their designs for decades were substandard knockoffs of Chevrolets or some generic Americaan car. Then they were slightly odd versions of their more exotic Opel cousins, and then, just the least desirable cars on the market. Not an ounce of desirability. If it wasn't for their sort-of Britishness, which is fake anyway, they would slither down the sales charts like in France (the Corsa at about No.20 is the only Opel in the French top 25 sales for 2016). I don't know how they can ever make Vauxhall a desirable brand. It's like making Slough a desirable place to live. You just hear the word and think Ugh. Logic doesn't come in to it.

21 December 2016
androo wrote:

Vauxhall have always made the most mundane cars. Their designs rarely stand the test of time. Go to aa classic car show and you won't see many Vauxhalls. Most rotted away in their first couple fo years, but worse than that, their designs for decades were substandard knockoffs of Chevrolets or some generic Americaan car. Then they were slightly odd versions of their more exotic Opel cousins, and then, just the least desirable cars on the market. Not an ounce of desirability. If it wasn't for their sort-of Britishness, which is fake anyway, they would slither down the sales charts like in France (the Corsa at about No.20 is the only Opel in the French top 25 sales for 2016). I don't know how they can ever make Vauxhall a desirable brand. It's like making Slough a desirable place to live. You just hear the word and think Ugh. Logic doesn't come in to it.

You do know this car is made in Britain?

21 December 2016
Their products in the eighties and early nineties was reasonably good . The first fwd cavalier was an excellent car that made a mockery of the cortina, the mk1 and mk2 astras were both excellent with the mk2 being a radical shspe for a day to day hatchback with great engines. The nova was head and shoulders above a metro and the fiesta , it even had a five speed gearbox and finally the calibra, still a brilliant looking thing to this day . They did make good desirable cars and they can again .

21 December 2016
Sundym wrote:

Their products in the eighties and early nineties was reasonably good . The first fwd cavalier was an excellent car that made a mockery of the cortina, the mk1 and mk2 astras were both excellent with the mk2 being a radical shspe for a day to day hatchback with great engines. The nova was head and shoulders above a metro and the fiesta , it even had a five speed gearbox and finally the calibra, still a brilliant looking thing to this day . They did make good desirable cars and they can again .

What an absolutely spot on post! Some successes, the Mokka is popular, many love their Adam's but apart from that they keep banging out mundane vehicles, largely ignoring the crossover (and SUV style) huge growth markets, little effort in alternative energy or hybrid really either. They need to wake up.

21 December 2016
The latest model of the Astra is a smart looking car, in my humble opinion. The big problem is depreciation. I would not buy any Vauxhall new, but 2nd hand, I would seriously consider it.

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