Vauxhall have recently updated the Astra, which was our Car of the Year back in 2015.
Back then, the Astra was a revelation, a massive improvement over who went before. Four years on though, as the car sector enters a kind of virtual reality, as EV’s, SUV’s & EV SUV’s fight for supremacy, an updated family hatch is no longer the big news it once was.
Step back & look at the new version & you’ll struggled to notice the difference. There’s a new front grille & that’s about it. The changes are underneath, with new engines, new gearboxes, updated safety & tech bringing it in line with the competition.
Vauxhall has simplified the trim levels, too, the range starting with SE, rising through SRi and SRi Nav, then SRi VX, Elite Nav & Ultimate Nav. Prices start at £18,895 for the SE going up to £26,755 for the Ultimate Nav.
Included on both, are a new 8″ touchscreen, improved connectivity for Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, softer touch plastics, a range of new advanced driver assistance systems & a new MultiMedia Navi Pro infotainment system on higher specced models, including the Elite Nav. Nice touches include front heated seats, a heated steering wheel, leather seat trim, an electric parking brake, two front & two rear USB charging points, LED headlights, 17″ multi spoke alloys & cruise control with a speed limiter.
To keep fleet customers happy, confused or both, the Astra is now offered with much improved petrol & diesel engines. To compare & contrast we spent time in the two most likely fleet models, both six-speed manual’s, beginning with the 1.5 Elite Nav Turbo D 122PS, which comes with a 1496cc engine, a combined fuel economy of 62.8 mpg & CO2 emission of 95g/km.
Despite the demise of diesel, thanks to a combination of ignorance & media negativity, we still believe that a new cleaner Euro 6 diesel, still has a place at the table for drivers who do big miles. This diesel offers decent pull with 300Nm’s taking it to a top speed of 130mph & a 0-60mph time of 9.6 seconds.
Having stuck up for diesel, we then spent a lot more time in the 1.2 Elite Nav 1.2 Turbo 145PS petrol Astra. This proved to be appealing as well. It doesn’t offer quite as much pull, with just 225Nm, but is faster reaching 60 mph in 8.8 seconds & comes with a top speed of 137mph. Where the diesel offer’s better economy, the petrol actually isn’t too bad either. CO2 emissions are 99g/km & the combined fuel economy is 54.3mpg. It’s £1000 cheaper to buy at £23,955 than it’s identical specced diesel sibling.
The tweaks that Vauxhall have made to the chassis & steering, can be noticed on the road. The updated version handles well with precise steering & a smooth manual gear change. We drove 400 miles as a family of four, plus luggage on a long motorway trip & the 1.2 was surprisingly good at coping with the load. The Astra had just enough in the tank to overtake comfortably & it was also quiet inside with little wind or road noise entering the cabin. Rear space is okay if you’re smaller. My 6-foot tall son found it a bit tight in the back, but up front it’s comfortable. You would really struggle to fit an adult in the centre rear seat though.
The boot is generous at 370 litres & with the rear seats folded down there’s plenty of room for your odds & sods. There is a highish lip to the boot, which could make it slightly awkward getting things in & out.
Petrol or diesel ? We averaged 37.8 mpg in the petrol, 51.2 mpg in the diesel. And you definitely run out of petrol faster than you do diesel, which is especially noticeable on a long journey.
All in all ,the upgrades to the Astra are a success. You get a lot more bang for your buck & Vauxhall claim that the new model will save the average fleet £1000 over 80,000 miles, or 4 years of it’s life. It’s also competitively priced at £1800 less than the equivalent Ford Focus. If you can steer your drivers out of an SUV, it’s a winner !