The Astra’s strengths are many, varied and, crucially, deserving of the attention of the interested drivers who may have overlooked the car in the past.
Vauxhall deserves as much credit as we can give for grasping the nettle with this car. Although it may be broadly unassuming to look at and remains as relatively practical, unpretentious and well priced as ever, this car isn’t just more of the same.
In as-tested form, it has an outstanding diesel engine and agile handling, while its infotainment and safety technologies provide selling points you might not expect from an old, mass-market brand. It’s not a surprise that the new Astra was voted 2016 European Car of the Year.
On refinement, material quality and dynamic maturity, however the ageing Astra’s working-class roots show through a little more compared to fresher-faced rivals like the Ford Focus, Kia Ceed and Mazda 3.