Vauxhall is not a premium brand and nor does it want to be, according to those who run the company. However the evidence that Vauxhall nevertheless wants people to consider the marque as at least a cut above the class norm is everywhere to see in the cabin. And the good news is that, in the main, it works.
The Astra offers a sound driving position, albeit with the steering wheel slightly offset to the centre of the car, with a more than adequate array of seat and steering wheel adjustments to ensure all conventionally proportioned owners will achieve a comfortable driving position without delay.
Once installed he or she will look out across an unusually attractive dash with, as you rise up through the ranges, and increasingly complex and impressive looking array of switchgear with neat chrome surrounds to create at atmosphere of elegance matched only by the latest seventh generation of VW Golf.
But problems arise when you start trying to use it all. Good looking the buttons and dials may be, easy to identify and operate when on the move they most certainly are not and in time those migrating from a Golf may come to yearn for the simplicity of its definitively user-friendly interface.
However interior space is first class and rivals that of cars from the class above including, awkwardly enough, Vauxhall's own Insignia. The reason for all the space, particularly in the back where legroom is exceptionally generous is both the sheer size of a car over 4.4 metres long and its space efficient rear suspension design. There’s excellent oddment space on board too.
It’s a surprise, then to find such a disappointing boot on the hatchback versions: the downward swoop of the roofline means carrying capacity is limited, but there’s no excuse for such an impractically high loading lip.