Currently reading: Vauxhall Astra long-term test review: the pros of OnStar connectivity
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

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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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ONstarGuide 15 May 2024

honestly, ive been using three roof-mounted buttons from Onstar on my new Cadillac and its amazing Ive had similar services before but the wiFi was always shittty. the Onstar wifi hotspot makes that easier


Andrew 61 19 July 2016

I am sure vauxhall will sell

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.
winniethewoo 19 July 2016

It's just so absurd.

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.
Scratch 19 July 2016

Calm down dear

winniethewoo wrote:

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

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