Frugal 1.6-litre diesel Astra estate has the zest to match its decent chassis and good looks

What is it?

It’s surprising how a better engine can improve the whole of a car’s character.

The diesel-engined Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer has always seemed like an inoffensive, workaday sort of machine when powered by the long-serving 1.7 and 2.0-litre diesels, but it was nothing out of the ordinary.

However, the arrival of a new aluminium-blocked 1.6-litre unit – which matches the power and torque of some 2.0-litre versions, complies with Euro 6 emissions and slashes fuel consumption by 10 per cent – has given the car a new level of responsiveness and refinement.

The engine in our test car, whose punchy 134bhp at 4000rpm is accompanied by a healthy 236lb ft at 2000rpm, is part of a downsizing move that will run across the whole of Vauxhall’s four-cylinder petrol and diesel engine range.

The Hungarian-made 1.6 CDTi is the latest piece in Vauxhall’s plan to create three all-new engine families and reveal 23 new models by 2016.

What's it like?

What impresses you about the 1.6 diesel in the Vauxhall Astra is its smoothness and quietness. It feels free-revving for a diesel, but you still get the impressive low-end thrust for which the previous, less-refined units were known.

Vauxhall claims a 0-62mph time of 9.7sec and a top speed of 125mph, both of which feel within the engine's remit.

On a long motorway haul, taken as quickly as traffic would allow, the car returned 52mpg and offered a touring range of 580 miles.

In Tech Line trim, with cloth seats and running on 17-inch wheels, the test Sport Tourer cornered and steered very well, and coped impressively with abrupt bumps and potholes.

The cabin feels suitably spacious and is comfortable over even long distance, which combined with the car's pliant ride makes the Vauxhall a pleasant daily companion.

Drop the rear seats and you're offered a substantial 1550 litres of storage space too – larger than that of the equivalent Ford Focus estate.

The Astra's not devoid of kit either; standard equipment includes sat-nav, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, a digital radio, multi-function trip computer, air-con, cruise control and electric heated mirrors and electric windows.

Should I buy one?

If you're in the market for a practical and efficient estate, one that's not too big, then this Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer is certainly worth considering.

Besides being easy to live with and effortless to drive, it won't cost much to run and benefits from Vauxhall's 'lifetime' 100,000 mile warranty. Competitive pricing and comprehensive kit levels further bolster its appeal.

In this particular trim and with its efficient new diesel engine, the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer really does come across as a near-ideal British family car.

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.6 CDTi

Price £20,525; 0-62mph 9.7sec; Top speed 125mph; Economy 72.4mpg; CO2 104g/km; Kerb weight 1440kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power 134bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Back to top

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Bennett83 11 January 2021
2015 SRI 1.6cdti 110hp owner here. Ours is very very basic but it was a really good deal being 8 months old and cost £10k. Because we got the basic model ie no sat nav or even bluetooth it has simply been less to go wrong. We've done 87,000 miles and have had it serviced with genuine parts and to schedule.
the Dual mass fly wheel started to go at 80k so we got that done along with the clutch (clutch was only half done but we got it anyway) at an eye watering £720 but other than that its just been serviceable parts. I would describe it as a workhorse and its ridiculously cheap to run for its size. zero road tax and just over £100 per year service. I average around 48mpg but can do upto 60 on a long run. The car still feels solid, drives above average and they still look good in my opinion. Overall would definitely recommend. All those taxi drivers and police cant be wrong. I know a mechanic how gets these 5-7 year old with over 250k miles on and they only get took off the road due to age
SirSidneyRuffdiamond 17 April 2014


Obviously a decent car as it has garnered 4 stars, but I find the front end styling hideously ugly.
Is that really the best Vauxhall-Opel/General Motors can do? Does their chief designer sit down and after weeks and months comes up with a front like that? Presumably, yes.
danielcoote 15 April 2014

Well mine has...

....been great. Changing car in July (because I have to) but my 2.0cdti has completed 56k faultless miles in less than 3 years and has coped really well with family life. Oodles of torque and refined on a cruise and would recommend the taughter SRI suspension where the extra weight at the back of the estate evens out the nose heavy diesel lump.

Gearchange could be smoother and it is vocal when not warmed up but seemingly these reservations have been addressed mostly in later models.

Would get another one tomorrow...