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

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

Read our previous reports

First report

Battling badge snobbery

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
14

29 May 2016
And while this was happening, there was 100% concentration on the road.

30 May 2016
Scratch wrote:

And while this was happening, there was 100% concentration on the road.

Any you've always concentrated on the road 100%, I suppose, and never adjusted the radio or ventilation, looked at the satnav, or spoken to a passenger, or looked at the scenery, or wondered what's for dinner, or thought of what you should have said to that idiot at work...

1 June 2016
I think your post is actually quite helpful. It expands on the distractions we have as drivers. And of course, I can be distracted too. But I suspect a different range of posts would be made if the article had been about "How I had an accident while travelling at 70mph using my voice activated text messaging". On a lighter note, perhaps we should ban children in cars. Now they really can be distracting.

TS7

29 May 2016
...not one about how it drives.

TS7

29 May 2016
...not one about how it drives.

29 May 2016
...@TS7, try this article, there's quite a few... www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/our-cars/vauxhall-astra-long-term-test-review-battling-badge-snobbery

30 May 2016
TS7 wrote:

...not one about how it drives.

Well, I may be going out on a limb here, but I expect it drives like a middle-of-the-road hatchback. What in the name of blue-blazes did you expect to read about, given that both the headline and the sub-heading were quite clear as to the contents of the piece?

30 May 2016
TS7 wrote:

...not one about how it drives.

The reason is just 2 words in the title.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

29 May 2016
just using standard Bluetooth and actually making a phonecall would not give you a reason to write a story and get your obligatory marketing spiel published.

"Drove home, used hands-free to call the wife to tell her I would be late" doesn't have the same ring to it.

30 May 2016
Maybe just a few mobile phone masts....

 

 

 

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