Tackling childhood boredom is a tough challenge, but utilising the Astra's in-car wi-fi certainly made it more manageable

Our Vauxhall Astra long-termer faces one of its toughest tests yet: keeping the kids happy.

“Dad, I’m bored.” Forty-five minutes into any journey, it’s always the same. We do spelling, we do maths, we do a quiz… no matter what, 45 minutes later the kids are bored. But now I have the answer, and it comes in the form of three roof-mounted buttons that control the OnStar system.

OnStar encapsulates the connected but disparate functions of creating an in-car wi-fi hotspot, allowing you to phone a call centre to ask for route information (which can then be automatically uploaded to your sat-nav system), detecting if you’ve had an accident and alerting the emergency services, tracking the car’s whereabouts and showing you the status of various aspects of your car via your smartphone (from tyre pressures to the fuel level).

So far, the wi-fi has had the heaviest workout. It’s simple and easy to connect and a breeze to use, whether you’re sending emails, browsing the web or downloading TV. Bored kids love it.

Meanwhile, the ability to ask for directions is a boon — not least because it’s hands-free and the people on the end of the phone are ever so polite. Would I buy an Astra for it? No. Would it swing me away from buying a Focus or Golf because it has it? Yes, it definitely would — and that’s a huge credit to Vauxhall.

British icon?

On a recent visit to Portsmouth, I happened to park opposite the HQ of Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup team just as they were hoiking the boat out of the water after a training run.

The Astra is not as cutting edge, but after another relaxed, economical 100-mile trip four up, it struck me that this Ford Focus rival’s Ellesmere Port origins should make it a British icon in its own right. 

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi SRi Nav

Price £21,480 Price as tested £23,800 Economy 56.1mpg Faults None Expenses None Last seen 1.6.16

Read our previous reports

First report

Battling badge snobbery

Technology test 

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

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Comments
7

19 July 2016
Good to see Vauxhall trying new stuff in the UK but no mention in the article on the data limit when kids are streaming movies....(I guess it's free if Vauxhall pay for it eh Autocar?)
I have Android Auto - I can ask it a question and it routes me the best way including traffic conditions and I can already use my phone (as can most of us) as a WiFi hotspot without paying for another 4G card in the car. So except for the emergency function I can't see what more this offers over functions already in your phone?

 

 

 

19 July 2016
Deputy wrote:

Good to see Vauxhall trying new stuff in the UK but no mention in the article on the data limit when kids are streaming movies....(I guess it's free if Vauxhall pay for it eh Autocar?)
I have Android Auto - I can ask it a question and it routes me the best way including traffic conditions and I can already use my phone (as can most of us) as a WiFi hotspot without paying for another 4G card in the car. So except for the emergency function I can't see what more this offers over functions already in your phone?

There is an app for the emergency function. If your phone's sensors detect a crash, it asks you if you have been in a crash. If there is no response it alerts emergency services with a GPS fix.

19 July 2016
Splendid styling the 2 dr Astra.

www.KOOOLcr.com

 

19 July 2016
I almost choked on my sandwich. Onboard shenanigans you can get via any android or apple smartphone over decent gear change, good body control, any kind of feeling of connection to the road or car etc that you have to give up when you buy an Astra.

19 July 2016
An Astra over a Focus or a Golf because of a system you can get through any decent smartphone. Seriously? I've come to expect Cropley's Astra reports to be infomercials, but this totally takes the biscuit. In fact it's starting to make me feel angry.

19 July 2016
winniethewoo wrote:

In fact it's starting to make me feel angry.

Calm down @winniethewoo, calm down. Take a break, and finish the sandwich.

19 July 2016
I am sure vauxhall will sell the cars movement data and customer details to the highest bidder at some point, then the Gov will ask to make it available to them. The car will only need to drive past one of those anpr advertising signs and gchq will likely blow up with info overload.

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