|Model tested:||Vauxhall Astra 1.0T SRi Nav|
|Economy / CO2:||62.8mpg/104g/km|
Review: Vauxhall Astra (Overall score = 4/5)
An all-new Vauxhall Astra – the seventh-generation edition – reached showrooms in October 2015. It didn’t look much different from its predecessor, the car that arguably represented the biggest step forward for the Astra ever. While that car was a contender in an overcrowded segment, its replacement is even more impressive. It comes with some great engines, looks smart inside and out, plus it features cutting-edge safety systems. Available only as a five-door hatchback, the Astra Mk7 was named European Car of the Year in 2017, proving just what a talented all-rounder it is. Here’s why.
Vauxhall clearly didn’t skimp when it came to engineering the Astra’s interior. There’s a high-quality feel to everything, although the relentless black of our test car (including the headlining) made it feel rather sombre. But the fit and finish is excellent, the doors close with a hefty thunk and the materials throughout the cabin feel of a high quality. It’s a spacious interior too; head and leg room are very good front and rear, the boot is capacious and the seats are supportive – including those in the rear.
The instrumentation is busy so it takes familiarisation, but it’s possible to display a large digital speedometer, which is handy. The shallow windows and thick pillars don’t help visibility, but it’s not terrible and there are lots of sensors to help. The biggest disappointment is the lack of oddments space, considering how roomy the cabin is.
Vauxhall has long trailed Ford when it comes to dynamics and it’s no different here, but this Astra still represents a significant advance over its forebear. The electric power steering feels rather artificial but this is a car that’s easy and enjoyable to drive. While the 1.4i and 1.0T get a five-speed manual gearbox, all others get a six-speeder. The five-speed box is slick enough but it blunts the three-cylinder engine’s performance a bit. It’s not hard work at all though, and even at motorway speeds the refinement is excellent. All Astras come bristling with driver aids; ours included blind spot warning and a rear parking camera as well as sensors. It also came with Auto Emergency Braking which needed recalibrating as it tended to flash up too early. A really neat feature is a dash readout that displays the distance (to the nearest tenth of a second) from the car in front – and it was accurate too. It’s the perfect way of demonstrating the two-second rule.
The Astra range kicks off with the 1.4 Design at £17,115 and peaks with the 1.6 CDTi BiTurbo Ultimate at £27,415. All Astras come with alloy wheels, privacy glass, electric windows front and rear, DAB radio with 7-inch display (or bigger) and air-con.
The entry-level Design is probably the ideal model as posher editions get bigger wheels (17 or 18-inch) and extra equipment that’s arguably of limited value. The SE does get heated front seats and dual-zone climate control however; this trim with a 1.0T engine is pegged at £21,045, while a 1.6 CDTi costs £22,025. Buy a 105bhp 1.6 CDTi Design and you’ll pay £18,775 (£19,255 with stop/start or £19,960 for a 134bhp edition with stop/start).