Review: Vauxhall Astra

A good value family car

22 Jun 15 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Great power but efficient

  • Lots of safety

  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Steering is sluggish

  • Small boot

  • More desirable competitors

Our expert rating

The medium-sized Vauxhall Astra hatchback and estate has been a much-loved family car since 1979, and makes a no-nonsense and reasonably priced used buy. The 2009 Astra is generally seen as a big improvement on its forerunners and is good enough to compete with its key opponents, the VW Golf and Ford Focus.

Performance

Vauxhall’s larger turbo diesel engines unite decent pulling power with efficiency. The punchy 1.9-litre or the 1.7-litre engines are not bad. But it’s more economical to go for the smaller engines, like the 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX model, decked out with fuel-saving and CO2-emission-reducing tech, such as ‘stop/start’.

Vauxhall Astra engine

Ride and handling

The Astra is great at munching the miles, thanks to a splendidly smooth and hushed ride. It’s composed and agile on the move, but the steering is somewhat sluggish, so it’s not as enjoyable to drive as some of the competition.

Nevertheless, it’s a good family car that comes fully loaded with bags of equipment as standard.

Vauxhall Astra interior

Interior space

Inside, it has enough room for four adults –five-up at a push -and there’s a respectable range of trim levels to be had, so either the hatchback or estate will suit lots of drivers. The boot size isn’t quite as generous as the Astra’s biggest rival, the Ford Focus, but it beats the Volkswagen Golf and the Peugeot 308.

There’s a lot of safety tech on board and the 2009 model holds the maximum five stars in the EuroNCAP safety tests.

Vauxhall Astra boot space

Alternative cars

The VW Golf is a better used buy due to its polished dynamics, comfortable interior and the fact that it hangs on to its value. But it’s more costly to buy. The Astra’s nemesis, the Ford Focus, has razor-sharp driving dynamics too, and always delivers in performance, so it’s superior in that regard.

The reality, though, is that a secondhand Astra or similarly aged Focus are not too far apart in terms of space, refinement or economy, so there’s no loser whichever you choose.

Vauxhall Astra alternative

Overall verdict

The Vauxhall Astra is one of the most well established used cars on sale in the UK. The 2009 onwards version adds to the model’s good name and has lots of finesse and charm. The car is backed up by a massive network of dealers, and there’s a lot of choice out there.

So, with a little bit of research, a mint secondhand Astra is easy to come by, and as family cars go, the Vauxhall Astra always offers good value for money.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall