Currently reading: Vauxhall Astra long-term test review: battling badge snobbery
The new Astra continued to show what a great family hatchback it is after covering 1000 miles in a week

Oh Vauxhall, what must you do to convince people how good your Vauxhall 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.


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

Back to top

Astra update082 0

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

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Bomber68 16 February 2017

Don't knock it till you've tried it!

A few months ago I'd have probably joined in with the badge snobbery surrounding the Astra. But having swapped out of a Freelander 2 and regularly driving Golfs & Passats at work I can definitely say that the new Astra is nothing short of excellent. To get a similar spec. as I have in Golf form would've meant spending £6/7K more, as anything lower than a GTD in Golf guise is, on the interior (where, obviously you spend most of the time) bland and boring in comparison, perhaps a tad better handling (although personally I find the Golf a bit heavy on the steering over distance) but the new Astra is a complete redesign in chassis, engine, tech etc..... It performs well with the 1.6 cdti engine giving it 136bhp over the Golf's 110bhp and a massive amount of torque for £20.00 per year tax and 55+ mpg when being driven 'normally' (not with economy in mind). The seats are ergonomically designed also to be easy on the back. Too many toys to mention now on this car including heated front and rear seats, Apple car play, Android Auto, On-star, On-board WiFi etc.... Don't just comment based on past models after looking at pictures and reading some preconceptive one and 'don't knock it till you've tried it', you may never know what you're missing. You don't win awards like European Car of the Year and the Telegraphs family estate car of the year for no reason.
Citytiger 15 May 2016

Whilst I was stationed in

Whilst I was stationed in Germany, I bought a Vectra B GSI estate, lovely car, I kept it 6 months, until I was driving down the A2 autobahn at about 120mph and was flashed by numerous vehicles, seeing as the car was a brand new model at the time, and a Vauxhall not an Opel, I thought it was just people liking the car, until I pulled in for fuel and realised my front offside hub was glowing bright red, and then burst into flames once I was stationary. Luckily a always carried a fire extinguisher, along with the other compulsory equipment required by German law

The front hub oil seal had failed after less than 10,000 miles, yes the repairs where carried out under warranty, but I have never bought another Vauxhall, driven them yes, when I have no other choice, but not bought one. Could this have happened to any make or model, I suppose it could, but in all my years of driving it hasn't (to me at least)..

UKtekkie 22 April 2016

I love my new Astra K

I think I'm the first to one to post who actually owns or drives a new Astra K. Comparison with previous models isn't valid - this is a new platform, new chassis, new interior and new dashboard. Everything has changed.

The dashboard layout and controls are really clear and very easy to use. Apple CarPlay works seamlessly with my iPhone and can be controlled using the large, bright 8" multi-touch display which is extremely responsive. Switching between Vauxhall mode and CarPlay mode is simple and I can access either using the touch screen, voice control or steering wheel controls. It works like a dream and is way ahead of anything that many other manufacturers are offering. I think Ford said they'd offer CarPlay sometime in 2017...

The Intellilux matrix LED headlights are excellent at night on country roads - automatically dimming just the relevant segment to avoid blinding oncoming drivers while keeping the rest of the view lit. I went for the £500 parking pack to get the front and rear sensors as well as the rear view reversion camera and didn't think too much about the auto parking capability but actually it works perfectly and I was very pleasantly surprised.

Fuel economy seems reasonable and my Astra SRi Nav 1.4 Turbo offers 150ps and the acceleration and handling are superb - remember the new Astra K is 200kg lighter than the previous model. Use the Sport mode switch and it takes on a new life with fantastic acceleration.

The basic feature set is pretty good with 4 electric windows, automatic wipers, cruise control, electric mirrors, air-con, tyre pressure reading, large display, CarPlay etc. It also comes with 4G, built-in WiFi so the kids in the back can access the Internet on long journeys, locking/unlocking via Smartphone App, remote tracking and even disabling should it be stolen. I added the Winter Pack to get heated seats and heated steering wheel too which are very nice.

I'm not really interested in brand arguments or the badge on the car. I looked at several makes and models and the new Astra K really stood out - it offered so much more than the competition at this price. I'd strongly recommend you test drive it and read the brochure if you're thinking of buying a new car.