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When the new Astra emerged in hatchback form last year, it earned a well-deserved top four ranking and proved to be a contender in a busy and competitive segment.

Depending on engine, there are only up to three rivals we’d rate more highly. Narrow the field down to hatchback-sized, sub-£25k diesel estates and there are but two: the voluminous Skoda Octavia Estate and the cleverly packaged and very economical Honda Civic Tourer.

Strong engine and estate practicality bolster the Astra’s appeal

In other words, from the Astra downwards, there are a great many worse affordable load-luggers you might buy.

While it’s true that plenty of the Astra’s rivals are more desirable, better finished and more engaging, few can beat this particular combination of space, equipment, comfort, refinement, performance, fuel economy and value for money.

For us, that the car’s engine so plainly deserves to be accompanied by more carefully honed controls and a more communicative chassis is a minor disappointment. But for the majority of estate buyers, it’ll probably hardly figure.

As a result the Astra Sports Tourer deservedly gets the jump on the Seat Leon and Ford Focus estates but fall short of the Honda Civic Tourer and the large Skoda Octavia Estate.