Currently reading: Vauxhall Astra long-term test review: technology test
Sending a text message using voice recognition just scratches the surface of the Astra's technological talents

Our Vauxhall Astra is packed with an impressive amount of technology; but does it work?

Recently I dictated a text message to my wife while driving at 70mph (and not one mile per hour more) on the M6. And do you know what? The words that came out of my mouth went into my phone and emerged on the other side of the satellite just as I’d said them.

This remarkable occurrence didn’t get me out of the doghouse for being three hours late home from work, but it did mean that I arrived to my gently smouldering dinner with a twinkle of excitement in my eye.

Maybe it’s my age showing, but I’m used to voice recognition systems being utterly hopeless — so much so that I can’t remember the last time I actually used one for any purpose other than to reassure my prejudices.

I only tried it on the Astra out of desperation, in the realisation that I couldn’t possibly stop and send a message without making me even later.

A significant part of me was working on the premise that sending any kind of signal home would be better than sending none, if only so I could show willing while blaming the car for the gobbledygook that followed.

But it didn’t happen like that, and repeated use of the system has proved that it works no matter how much cabin noise there is.

And the biggest shock of it all — one of which I need to keep reminding myself — is that this is a lesson in technology being delivered by the once-humble Vauxhall Astra, not some premium-priced executive car.

Okay, this is Apple CarPlay at work rather than a Vauxhall-developed system, but it’s a great demonstration of how technology has been democratised and integrated into cars of all kinds.

My success has prompted me to investigate Vauxhall’s unique Onstar system, which offers wi-fi, a concierge service and a system that contacts the emergency services automatically if you have an accident.

Turns out dictating text messages is just the start of what the endlessly remarkable Astra can do — but more on that next time.

Astra on Safari

What do you learn about your car at Longleat?

That there’s just enough room for an adult in the back if your six-year-old freaks out and relocates to the front passenger seat when a camel uses your door mirror as a scratching post.

The panic attack ruined any chance of a close-up photo of said camel but proved the versatility of the Astra’s seats.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi SRi Nav


Read our review

Car review

The British-built Vauxhall Astra reaches its seventh generation, but faces strong competition from recently-updated hatchbacks like the Ford Focus

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Mileage 6326 Price £21,480 Price as tested £23,800 Economy 57.1mpg Faults None Expenses None

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bol 31 May 2016

Have you compared Siri to the Vauxhall voice recognition?

Siri works great in my car too, but the VW voice recognition which I sometimes activate by mistake is utterly useless by comparison.

Whilst I don't agree with all the "advertorial" piffle above, it would have been nice to hear a bit about the Astra's own technology.

winniethewoo 30 May 2016

No wait, it was Apple car play, so more about Apple rather than

Paul73 30 May 2016

Can't these feature be marked

Can't these feature be marked as the adverorials they all so obviously are?

Being bombarded by Asttra pop up ads is a bit of a giveaway as to the gushing language in this and previous "feature" stories on the Astra

winniethewoo 30 May 2016

Paul73 wrote: Can't these

Paul73 wrote:

Can't these feature be marked as the adverorials they all so obviously are?

Being bombarded by Asttra pop up ads is a bit of a giveaway as to the gushing language in this and previous "feature" stories on the Astra

Here here! This is more about Google than Vauxhall. You could achieve the same in any android auto equipped car. Personally, I just think it goes to show in how little depth cars are considered by car magazines, and the total lack of anything remarkable about the Astra. It is more of the same. Only one Autocar feature was honest, that it lacks body control, squidgy gear change etc. etc.