Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall Astra Motability carThe Astra has always found competition tough, the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf have always appeared one step ahead. This, the seventh Vauxhall Astra, is right up there with the very best in the small family hatchback class; good to drive, practical and well equipped. It also looks great, inside and out, while there’s more space inside than in the old car, even though the new model is smaller on the outside. The new Astra’s weight loss of up to 200kg makes for a more engaging drive, the new Astra sits nicely between the sportiness of the Ford Focus and the comfort of the VW Golf.

 

Vauxhall Astra Motability car dashThe new Astra looks great; sharp creases along the sides and a delicate flick to the window line behind the rear door. Inside the dashboard is dominated by a large touchscreen surrounded by piano-black trim that stretches right the way across the dash, underlined by a slim line of chrome. It’s very uncluttered with just six physical buttons on the infotainment system. Space is excellent rear passengers have 35mm more knee room than in the previous car and there’s plenty of headroom despite the car’s sloping coupe-like roofline. Boot space is unchanged at 370 litres which is 54 more than a Focus and 10 less than the Golf.

 

Vauxhall Astra Motability car rear

Trim levels for the Astra are the same as the outgoing car, we like continuity,  Design, Tech Line, SRi, and Elite. The entry level Design has 16″alloy wheels, LED running lights, air-conditioning, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, a 7″ colour touchscreen, cruise control and electric windows all round. Tech Line, and Nav versions of SRi and Elite, has an 8″ touchscreen complete with Sat Nav and voice recognition.  The SRi has 17″ alloys, sports seats and front fog lights, the range topping Elite has heated leather seats (both front and rear), dual zone climate control, electrically foldable door mirrors and two USB chargers for rear seat passengers.

 

Vauxhall Astra Motability car bootStandard on SRI and Elite Astra’s is OnStar, Vauxhall call this your ‘personal onboard assistant’ – it’s free for the duration of your lease and we like it a lot. This is not a new tech toy it is a quite ingenious system that enables you to download route guidance directly to the sat-nav system or ring the emergency services in the event of a crash. It also brings a WiFi hotspot (with unlimited 4G) and the ability to control certain functions via your smartphone such as tyre pressure, fuel and oil levels. From your phone you can lock and unlock the doors and locate your vehicle if you can’t remember where you last parked and once close you can flash the lights and honk the horn. You can contact an OnStar representative 24/7 if you need the address of a restaurant, want to check a dashboard warning light or forgot to lock your car, even if you are abroad the advisor will talk in the language you have registered with the service.

 

Vauxhall Astra Motability car front

The petrol engine range comprises a basic non-turbocharged 1.4-litre, a super 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo with 104bhp and economy of 64.2 mpg, a 1.4-litre turbo with 148bhp and a 1.6-litre turbo with 197bhp and all offer excellent power and economy, the 1.0 litre can hit 60mph in 10.5 seconds and return a claimed 64.2 miles per gallon, the 148bhp 1.4 litre can reach 60mph in 7.8 seconds and return 51.4 miles per gallon as a 6 speed manual or 6 speed automatic. The 1.6 litre whisper diesel comes in three variants, 110bhp 136 and a twin turbo 160bhp. The 136 is the pick as it offers the combination of performance (0-60 in 9 seconds) and economy (76.3 miles per gallon), this engine can be paired to a six speed manual or six speed automatic.

Summer Best Buy – Vauxhall Astra Elite 1.4 148bhp petrol manual   –  £149 Advance Payment (£60.29 wpms) 

Summer Best Buy – Vauxhall Astra SRi 1.4 petrol 148bhp Automatic  –  Nil Advance Payment (£59.29 wpms)