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Vauxhall Astra Review

8 / 10
10 April 2024
Vauxhall Astra review front three quarter

The latest Vauxhall Astra gets chiselled good looks and upgrades across the board. It was a tricky proposition as a new car, however, because prices were steep compared to the competition.

On the used-car market, the Astra makes much more sense. Prices fall in line with key rivals like the Peugeot 308 and Volkswagen Golf, so you can enjoy the Vauxhall's calm, composed driving experience without blowing the budget.

What we like:
  • Distinctive angular styling
  • Refined driving experience
  • Generous standard equipment
What we don't like:
  • A bit dull to drive
  • Not the value leader it once was
  • Average practicality

Should I buy a Vauxhall Astra?

When the latest Vauxhall Astra arrived in 2022, we marvelled as its new, confident styling, and then recoiled in horror at its price tag. Far too many models retailed for more than £30,000, with top-spec plug-in-hybrid versions nudging £40,000 – a bitter pill for private buyers that couldn't benefit from favourable company-car rates.

But that's where you – a savvy used-car buyer – can benefit. Plenty of Astras are now arriving on the used market, with far more sensible prices that fall in line with key rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 308.

The Astra deserves a spot on your shortlist, too, and not just for its good looks. All models – even entry-level versions – come loaded with standard kit, and Vauxhall's worked hard to make the cabin as hushed as possible, soothing you as the miles rack up.

Interior and technology

Like the exterior, the cabin's caught the same angular styling bug. There are sharp slashes and intersecting lines all across the dashboard and door panels that lend the interior a bit of visual drama. Like so many rivals, however, there are a few too many black and dark grey surfaces for our tastes, which does make us appreciate the flashes of red in GS Line cars, at least.

There are neat details like the piano-key-style buttons on the dashboard for the climate control and a proper knob for the stereo volume. Though these are balanced against a few more questionable choices – especially the big slab of gloss-black plastic on the centre console that attracts fingerprints like a moth to a lamp.

Lots of brands have adopted a dual-screen setup that includes both the infotainment system and the driver's dials, so it's little surprise to find the same in the Astra. All versions get a pair of 10-inch screens with reasonably sharp definition and a fairly simple user interface that keeps visual clutter to a minimum. Built-in navigation is included on all models but most drivers will prefer to use the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions, which come as standard.


Life in the Astra is reasonably easy. There's lots of space for front-seat passengers and, on all but entry-level design cars, the driver gets eight-way seat adjustment including four-way electric lumbar support. Top-spec cars upgrade to full electric adjustment for both front passengers and even a massaging function for the driver.

Rear passenger space is about average for the class. That means six footers will fit in the back, but they won't have lots of spare head and legroom to lounge out. The seats themselves are, at least, fairly comfortable, with a suitably reclined seat back and more passive lumbar support than the bench seats found on some spartan rivals.

The 422-litre boot is one of the largest in the class, which makes carrying a pushchair or a week's holiday luggage straightforward. Loading cargo is hassle-free thanks to the Astra's wide, square boot opening with a low load lip to save your aching back. Of course, the Astra Sports Tourer estate is even better with 597 litres of space – a figure that's a little short of direct rivals like the Ford Focus Estate or Skoda Octavia Estate – but, for most owners, will be more than enough for big trips to the tip, or ferrying your four-legged friend.

Engines and performance

If you're looking at engines solely powered by fuel, there's just a 1.2-litre turbo petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel to choose from. Both are familiar from other Vauxhalls and the petrol is ideal for mixed driving. Our test car, however, was equipped with a 1.6-litre plug-in hybrid with 180hp – the lesser of two partially electrified models, with the top-spec GSe getting a 225hp version of the same engine.

The instant response and plentiful torque of the car's electric motor makes this version feel really quite muscular in normal driving. Leaning on the throttle a little more on a motorway slip road, for example, rewards you with a sizeable slug of power that wafts you all the way to the national limit. Only when you ask for everything the engine has do you find the limit, with consistent rather than neck-snapping acceleration.

Overall refinement is excellent, with the plug-in-hybrid engine sticking with electric power as much as possible. Even when the petrol engine engages to take up the slack, it sounds quite distant and doesn't overpower the chilled cabin ambiance.

Driving and comfort

There's nothing wrong at all with the way the Astra goes down the road, but it does little to stir the soul or keen drivers. The steering and pedals are accurate and intuitive, requiring very little adjustment time, but they don't have the immediacy or the reassuring weight you get from sportier cars like the Mazda 3.

Throw the Astra at some tight turns and you'll find the suspension and body control doesn't really want to play ball, either. The car remains composed, even if you act like a bit of a hooligan, but its front end doesn't dive towards corner apex like a sportier car, instead tracking a safe and stable line through the turn.

Very few Astra buyers are likely to care about the car's somewhat vanilla handling, however. And, once you start driving in a more relaxed manner, you'll appreciate the hushed engines and the sense of isolation from the outside world – thanks, in part, to the standard-fit acoustically insulated windscreen.

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