Prices start at £5000 for a high-mileage 2016- reg 1.6 CDTi, so a used Vauxhall Astra is a tempting proposition. It won’t look or feel as classy as a Volkswagen Golf but then you’ll pay £2500 more for the pleasure of owning that particular people’s car. The Ford Focus is closer in appearance and feel to the Astra but even that will set you back around £1000 more.
Of course, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for, and in the Astra’s case, what you get is a reputation for unreliability.
The range of trims is a little baffling but, regardless, even basic Design is well equipped (7.0in colour touchscreen with Vauxhall’s IntelliLink phone connectivity, a digital radio, air-con and 16in alloy wheels). Our pick is SRi, the next up, but if you fancy more luxury, there’s Elite (leather-covered and powered sports seats, automatic lights and wipers, and lashings of chrome).
The model was launched in 2015 and has just been facelifted. Actually, that’s underselling the changes since the latest Astra now features new Euro 6d- and RDE2-compliant engines plus improved suspension. What hasn’t changed is the model’s styling, which must say something about the rightness of the original, if not Vauxhall’s bank balance.
But more tax efficient and better to drive though it is, why spend £18,885 on the cheapest facelifted Astra, the 1.2 110 SE, when for £15,000 you could have a pre-facelift model in a high spec and with a strong engine? Something like a 2019/19-reg Astra 1.4T 150 Griffin. Specwise, this run-out special sits between Tech Line Nav and SRi and new, it cost around £19,950. Features include dual-zone climate control, 18in alloy wheels and a sat-nav. The 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine is a good performer and economical as well.
For even better economy, target the 1.6 CDTi diesel in 109bhp and 134bhp forms or, one of our favourites, the 104bhp 1.0T petrol. It’s among the best three-pots out there – all snarly and punchy but, thanks to its balancer shafts, smooth, too. For more power, try the 124bhp 1.4T.