What's the used Vauxhall Astra hatchback like?
Although for many years a hugely popular car, the Vauxhall Astra has never been one to set an enthusiastic driver’s heart on fire. Enter this seventh-generation version, which carried beneath its handsome skin such a raft of changes over the previous model that everyone who tried it immediately declared it to be a huge improvement in every area.
Thanks to a new platform, it’s smaller than the car it replaced externally but bigger inside, with a notably capacious interior. It’s better to drive, too, and lighter. With a wide range of more efficient engines to choose from, and some showroom-friendly and innovative technology inside, it’s not surprising that it’s won praise over the past two years from a broad range of people and even scooped the 2015 European Car of the Year Award.
Initially, petrol engines ranged from a 99bhp 1.4-litre unit right up to a 197bhp 1.6-litre that gave the five-door Astra almost hot hatch pace. In between were two sprightly turbocharged 1.4-litre engines of 124bhp and 148bhp respectively and a more recently introduced 104bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine that endowed the Astra with an impressive blend of performance and economy. Not surprisingly, though, it’s the three 1.6-litre diesel options that were the most economical – these came in 109bhp, 134bhp and 158bhp varieties.
A major facelift in 2019 resulted in a complete overhaul of the engine range. The lineup now offers a 1.2-litre with 109bhp or 128bhp power outputs, or a 1.4 with 143bhp, while the diesel was a 1.5-litre in 104bhp or 120bhp forms.
In corners, the Astra is safe and secure, and more pleasurable to drive than any previous version. The ride has a jiggly quality around town and over sharp road irregularities, but soon settles down at higher speeds to prove comfortable.
Inside, in a bid to pitch it more squarely against its chief rivals, the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, the Astra has a more upmarket feel than its predecessors. Its infotainment system also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. As you would expect from any Vauxhall, there are many trim levels to choose from, ranging from the well equipped to the very nearly sumptuous.
Space in the interior is fine up front, even for the very tall, and there's a very generous amount of room in the back for two, three at a pinch for shorter journeys, with plenty of leg and head room. The boot is easily accessible and, at 370 litres, of a good size and useful shape. However, one or two rivals have bigger boots.
Trims initially ranged from the well-equipped entry-level Design, with touchscreen infotainment, Bluetooth and cruise control, through Tech Line (aimed at the business user) and Energy, up to SRi, a semi-sporting but handsomely equipped trim. There was one trim above that, Elite, that added luxuries including electrically folding mirrors, dual-zone climate control and heated front seats. If you wanted sat-nav, Vauxhall offers a Nav version of most of the trims listed, so it’s worth trying to find one of those.
That 2019 facelift brought a change to the trim designations, too. The entry-level trim became SE, then Business Edition, then SRi, then SRi Nav, next up came Elite Nav, as well as a sporty and most expensive SRi VX-Line Nav.
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