The new Astra continued to show what a great family hatchback it is after covering 1000 miles in a week
Jim Holder
21 April 2016

Oh Vauxhall, what must you do to convince people how good your Astra is?

This latest version has arrived to universal acclaim, shone with four out of five stars under the spotlight of the Autocar road test, and won the prestigious European Car of the Year competition.

And still, as I climbed from its cabin after another refined, frugal, comfortable drive, neighbours would wander up and ask: “What on earth are you doing in a Vauxhall Astra?”

The answers are widespread: the 1.6-litre diesel engine is amazingly refined and economical at around 57mpg, the sports seats are extremely comfortable, the cabin is smart, and the infotainment system slick and intuitive.

I covered more than 1000 miles in it in a week, four up and with a full load of luggage and kids’ paraphernalia on board, and emerged without an ache or pain, thinking that this was a car I’d happily use every day for years.

The standout was the cabin — not because it has a particular wow factor, but because it is spacious, comfortable, and durable in a fuss-free way.

Likewise, the large central screen impressed, both because it was easy to use the sat-nav and music functions without needing to refer to the handbook, and because it paired seamlessly with a variety of phones.

It also has a touchscreen that responds quickly, which is more than can be said for many other such systems.

But did anyone listen? Not that I found.

Admittedly, the neighbours are used to seeing me in a variety of cars, some more inclined to get your pulse racing than a mainstream family hatch, but here, if ever there was such a thing, is a car that is judged without recourse to the facts.

For many, it seems, an Vauxhall Astra will always be a Vauxhall Astra — which loosely translates as an uninspiring car that you're forced to drive.

More fool them, I say, and I’m pretty sure that the mass of owners and leasers that are accelerating sales at quite a rate at present will come to think the same way as me.

Downsides? There are a few, and some that will worry ardent car enthusiasts, not least the overly light and uninvolving steering and fractionally too hard ride quality.

But I’d counter that by asking how important those factors truly are for the majority of family car owners.

In many ways, Vauxhall only has itself to blame, of course.

A succession of decent but far from class-leading Astras has taken a toll on the model’s reputation that only a succession of better-than-average launches can truly wipe away.

Likewise, the firm’s addiction to discounting (it’s not difficult to find 10% off a new Astra, even so soon after launch) does little to build confidence.

Overall, though, this new Astra is too good to ignore.

It is not just a significant leap better than what went before; on several (but not all) levels it’s a genuine class leader.

Now you know — and you can join me in spreading the word.

Read our previous long-term report here

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 136PS SRi Nav

Price £21,480 Price as tested £23,800 Mileage 5050 Economy 57.1mpg Faults None Expenses None

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
34

21 April 2016
Nope. Don't believe a word. Fine in isolation. Will fall down in a back to back group test woth competitors.

21 April 2016
Also if its as good you say it is why do they need to heap on the discounts? For instance, if it were better than say a Golf, and people drove the two, and both where the same price, doesn't it follow that people would get the Astra over the Golf? Yet they need to discount the Astra steeply in order to sell it? Doesn't make sense.

21 April 2016
winniethewoo wrote:

Also if its as good you say it is why do they need to heap on the discounts? For instance, if it were better than say a Golf, and people drove the two, and both where the same price, doesn't it follow that people would get the Astra over the Golf? Yet they need to discount the Astra steeply in order to sell it? Doesn't make sense.

But boy does it sell, don't ever remember seeing the Leon, V40, 308, C4 etc ahead of it in the sales charts, in the UK at least.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

21 April 2016
'Having never driven one but hating Astras with a vengence...' Is having a strong opinion on something without any experience of it your manisfesto for life?

21 April 2016
'Having never driven one but hating Astras with a vengence...' Is having a strong opinion about something without any experience of it your manifesto for life? If it is I wish you good luck with it but I'm afraid I won't be joining you.

21 April 2016
winniethewoo wrote:

Also if its as good you say it is why do they need to heap on the discounts? For instance, if it were better than say a Golf, and people drove the two, and both where the same price, doesn't it follow that people would get the Astra over the Golf? Yet they need to discount the Astra steeply in order to sell it? Doesn't make sense.

The 'Having never driven one but hating Astras...' thing does suggest a hatred built up on someone who could be working in a competitive workplace aka VW Group dealership or alike? Noticed this persons tends to loving the VW Group reviews and news articles.

I have driven an Astra, and our previous model 11 plate 165 CDTI Tourer covered 60k miles in 3 years with only a offside front bulb blow and a sticking rear disc calliper to report. Superb car, roomy, good to drive and coped well with the kids stuff and hitting potholes on the M8 at 70+ speeds. Tested over the years it made mockery of VW group 150 engines on the motorway and gave the 170's a few surprises.

Besides, would rather drive cars from a manufacturer that didn't 'fiddle' with engine bits and bobs fooling customers along the way...

21 April 2016
I refer you to the "Seat Leon, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra versus Mazda 3 - warm hatch group test" where the Astra SRi came 3rd

21 April 2016
Exactly. Most people only buy one car at a time - why settle for 3rd best? Mssrs Holden and Cropley should clear some space in their diaries for the new Insignia, which reportedly will use a carry over platform (not good enough), and will no doubt require lots of these kind of puff pieces. Autocar is expert at writing these now.

21 April 2016
abkq wrote:

I refer you to the "Seat Leon, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra versus Mazda 3 - warm hatch group test" where the Astra SRi came 3rd

That's completely irrelevant. In that comparison it was being viewed as a 'warm hatch' and the point was to see how it measured up against similar cars in its quest to fulfill that particular function. The answer was that it wasn't as good as two of them.

This blog is looking at what is probably the biggest-selling version to see how it will fare as everyday transport for the vast majority of people who will have one. The answer appears to be that it fare very well.

21 April 2016
beechie wrote:
abkq wrote:

I refer you to the "Seat Leon, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra versus Mazda 3 - warm hatch group test" where the Astra SRi came 3rd

That's completely irrelevant. In that comparison it was being viewed as a 'warm hatch' and the point was to see how it measured up against similar cars in its quest to fulfill that particular function. The answer was that it wasn't as good as two of them.

This blog is looking at what is probably the biggest-selling version to see how it will fare as everyday transport for the vast majority of people who will have one. The answer appears to be that it fare very well.

What follows is also completely irrelevant because it's totally subjective - Its styling is breathtaking bland & non-aspirational. This, & not its driving characteristics, is I believe Vauxhall/Opel's
Archilles heel. It's as if Vauxhall's designers never bothered to make this car (and other models) visually pleasing.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK