Vauxhall’s current method of chassis development – done on UK roads and concentrating predominantly on one baseline setting rather than producing different ‘comfort’ and ‘sport’ configurations and retuning for different wheel sizes – has served the new Astra with mixed success.
We’ve been moderately impressed by the handling and ride of mid-range models but disappointed by more powerful ones, so it’s becoming clear that there must be a dynamic sweet spot in the range – a point at which kerb weight, wheel size and performance are mixed just so.
The Astra CDTi BiTurbo juggles supple comfort, handling precision and tautness of body control well enough to feel like it could be that sweet spot.
It’s far from dynamically perfect and doesn’t do anything particularly clever to deliver its blend of pragmatism and poise – but neither does it need to.
The ride is medium-firm but slightly longer in suspension travel than most rivals, so it’s absorptive without feeling soft, and yet the car’s dampers and anti-roll bars haul up unwanted body movement well enough to make the car handle fast corners and uneven roads perfectly tidily, with consistent grip levels, predictable responses and good directional stability.