Vauxhall Astra review

The interior has improved quality over the old model, but the Golf is still the leader in terms of premium materials and easy-to-use layout. Passenger space is adequate, although three adults will find it tight in the back seat. Boot size is in-between most of the rivals.

The way the Astra drives has also improved over the previous generation and the steering is nicely weighed and precise, yet it still can’t manage to deliver the same levels of excitement like the Focus or match the ride quality of the Golf. It isn’t bad to drive by any means it’s that the rivals are better.

With a sharper-edged design and lightweight underpinnings, the all-new, seventh generation Vauxhall Astra hatchback range has a tough job on its hands with such an array of accomplished rivals in the compact family car market.

Underneath the crisper styling of the latest Vauxhall Astra is an all-new platform which is on average 200kg lighter than that of the old model. Combined with slipperier aerodynamics, the Astra’s thirst for fuel is reduced too.

A huge range of petrol and diesel engines are available too, including the efficient 1.6 CDTi ecoFLEX diesel which comes in 108bhp and 134bhp outputs, a 2.0 CDTi with 163bhp and a powerful 2.0 BiTurbo CDTi which offers 192bhp and a combined economy figure of 55.4mpg.

The Astra still lacks the level of driving engagement that you'll find in the Ford Focus. Despite the comprehensive model range, range-topping cars are expensive when compared to some of its rivals, too. 

That inherent lightness also benefits the Astra’s agility, making it feel much more nimble both around town and on windier back roads. Revised suspension settings and a suite of electronic systems are designed to make the Vauxhall more enjoyable to drive than before.

There are eight engines to choose from in the Astra range, five petrol and three diesel, but so far, we’ve only tried two. The first of these is the mid-range 134bhp 1.6-litre ‘Whisper’ diesel, and it delivers strong, consistent pull from around 1,500rpm to keep you rolling along easily in most situations. True to its moniker, it’s also pretty quiet, but you do feel quite a few vibrations through the controls. There’s some road noise to be heard at cruising speeds as well, but wind noise is very well contained. The other engine we tried, a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol with 148bhp, is another flexible performer, and is also pretty smooth, even if it doesn’t make the Astra feel all that quick.