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VAUXHALL ASTRA

1.6T 16V 200 Elite Nav 5dr

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Vauxhall Astra - By Jonathan Crouch

Score

Performance

Handling

Comfort

Space

Styling

Build

Value

Equipment

Economy

Depreciation

Insurance

Vauxhall is aiming to acheve big things with the seventh generation Astra. It's aiming directly at eroding the market share of its Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf arch-rivals. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review

The seventh generation version of Vauxhall's Astra family hatch manages to be better equipped, more efficient and more spacious than its predecessor, plus it offers a worthwhile engine range that includes an efficient little 1.0-litre three cylinder petrol unit. Think that sounds promising? Then like us, you might think that this could be an extremely tough rival for segment-leading Golf and Focus models.

Background

Despite Vauxhall's best efforts over more than three decades and six different generations, their Astra has rarely been the family hatchback its drivers would ideally have chosen to own. Not because it's ever been a bad car: just never a class-leading one. The kind of model you bought because it was good value. Or more likely, because you were given the keys by your company Fleet Manager. This seventh generation version was designed to do better - and the signs are that it might. As you may expect, it's smarter-looking, but more importantly, it's also up to 200kgs lighter than before, so the most frugal variant can manage over 90mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 82g/km. There's plenty of technology too, including 1.0-litre three cylinder technology, the clever OnStar system - and the Intellilink infotainment packages. Best of all perhaps, this car offers higher interior quality and claims to be sharper to drive. That's important. Manufacturers selling family hatchbacks of this kind are usually torn between trying to match the quality and comfort of a Volkswagen Golf or the sharp handling of a Ford Focus. Most end up with a compromise between the two that leaves these impressive class leaders untroubled. With this car, the GM designers claim to have done better - but have they? Let's find out.

Driving Experience

The engineers created a completely fresh platform for this MK7 model Astra but it isn't one featuring the multi-link rear suspension set-up that does so much to make a rival Ford Focus ride and handle so sweetly. The downside of that kind of arrangement lies not only in its cost but also in the way it intrudes on bootspace (which is why a Focus' boot is so relatively small). Hence the decision with this Astra to stick with the previous model's relatively simple torsion beam rear suspension system, a set-up enhanced with a so-called 'Watts linkage' feature to improve cornering stability. The engine range offers the option of the old 1.4 litre petrol unit in 125 or 150PS forms but we'd prefer the smaller 105PS 1.0-litre three cylinder unit. Most Astra buyers though, are probably going to want a diesel. The old 1.3, 1.7 and 2.0-litre CDTi units have been pensioned off and in their place sits the quieter, torquier 1.6-litre CDTi diesel, offered with either 110 or 136PS. Both petrols and diesels benefit from a sweet-shifting six speed gearbox manual gearbox.

Design and Build

You know at first glance that this is a Vauxhall thanks to the corporate grille, which flows into headlights which come with the option of full LED technology. There's also the familiar 'blade' graphic stamped into the side of the body and rear lights that spread into the tailgate like the smaller Corsa. Another nice touch is the 'floating' roof, an effect created by a dark trim on the C-pillar and highlighted by a chrome strip that runs the length of the roof. There's also the option of quite a sleek estate variant, the Sports Tourer. Up-front, there's the expected smart fascia with splashes of chrome and the expected standard touchscreen infotainment screen that as usual reduces dashboard button clutter. The General Motors 'OnStar' system is available, the set-up providing an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, 24/7 assistance from a dedicated service team and the ability to call the emergency services if the airbags deploy. Out back, there's very class-competitive rear legroom. And you get a 370-litre bpoot - or 540-litres in the Sports Tourer estate.

Market and Model

Prices start from just under £19,000 and range up to around £28,000 and there's the usual mainstream bodystyle choice of five-door hatch and Sports Tourer estate. With the latest generation hatch and estate, there are nine main trim levels - 'Design', 'Tech Line Nav', 'Griffin', 'SRi', 'SRi Nav', 'SRi VX-Line', 'SRi VX-Line Nav', 'Elite Nav' and 'Ultimate'. Diesel variants start around £20,500 and get the much quiet 1.6-litre CDTi engine. And equipment? Well, if you opt for base 'Design' trim, you get 16" alloy wheels, air conditioning, a DAB stereo with Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto & Apple CarPlay compatibility, cruise control and all round power mirrors and windows. Business users will be interested in the 'Tech Line' trim that adds sat nav and a leather steering wheel. Move up to the 'SRi' grade and you get sportier wheels, a driver assistance pack, sports seats and the OnStar system that will offer help in an emergency. Top 'Elite' models gain leather electric seats that are heated front and rear, climate control and a few other luxury items. Safety kit available on plusher models or as an option includes a 'Traffic Sign Assistant' that displays traffic signs on the dash as you pass them, a 'Lane Keep Assist' system, plus a 'Forward Collision Alert' set-up with auto braking.

Cost of Ownership

Put simply, you're not going to find an Astra that's going to cost you a huge amount to run. Even the 1.4 petrol turbo is likely to return around 40mpg with a light right foot, while of course the 1.6-litre CDTi diesels will manage much more. The 1.0 three cylinder petrol model manages up to 48.7mpg on the combined cycle and 107g/km of CO2. If operating costs are your biggest worry then step forward the 1.6 litre CDTi 110PS diesel BlueInjection model, a car capable of up to 60.1mpg on the combined cycle while emitting only 107g/km of CO2. All fuel figures are WLTP-rated; all CO2 readings are NEDC. These days, Vauxhall only offers a standard three year 60,000 mile effort; the industry standard in other words. Residuals may be marginally improved by a recent extra focus on quality - we'll wait and see on that. As usual, you can help yourself in terms of model depreciation by exercising a little restraint when it comes to ticking boxes on the options list. It's very easy here to get up towards a £25,000 car without too much effort. Stick to the essentials that will make the vehicle more appealing to its potential second owner and you shouldn't do too badly.

Summary

In a family hatchback class stuffed with appealing options, it would be easy perhaps to overlook this seventh generation Astra - or at least to assume it to be an also-ran in this tightly-fought segment. You shouldn't do that - and it isn't. Or at least it isn't if you choose your engine and spec carefully. The really desirable and efficient variants may well require you to negotiate a sharp deal with your local Vauxhall showroom to keep within budget, but such is the value emphasis in today's Griffin brand network that you're pretty likely to be able to do that. And assuming that you do, you'll get yourself a car that feels quite up to the challenge posed by an army of efficient, plush and dynamically able rivals. Of course the MK7 model improvements have helped enormously here - the smarter look, the more efficient engines, the extra hi-tech features. Best of all, it's mainly British, with hatch and estate models built at Ellesmere Port near Liverpool to a quality at least as high as anything the Japanese brands can manage. That reason alone might be enough to give this car a place on your family hatchback shortlist. Fortunately for Vauxhall, there are also many others.

Vauxhall Astra - Vauxhall's much improved seventh generation Astra family hatch takes some beating. June Neary checks it out..

Score

Performance

Handling

Comfort

Space

Styling

Build

Value

Equipment

Economy

Depreciation

Insurance

Vauxhall's much improved seventh generation Astra family hatch takes some beating. June Neary checks it out..

Will It Suit Me?

Golf, Focus, Astra: these are three of the car names that UK motorists know best, primarily because they are attached to three of the cars that UK motorists buy most. They're family hatchbacks and along with the likes of SEAT's Leon, Peugeot's 308, Renault's Megane, Toyota's Auris and quite a few others, they fight it out for sales in one of the most competitive car market sectors there is. The problem for us car buyers is which one to choose and Vauxhall is confident it has the answer in the shape of its latest seventh generation Astra. I've got to admit that the Astra has sometimes left me cold over the years. Yes it was always good value but sometimes you want more. In its recent incarnations, that's what Vauxhall's star performer has started to deliver, this MK7 model being smarter, lighter, cleverer and more efficient than before. It may look similar to the previous version, but don't be deceived: much has changed here. Once merely an ordinary family hatch, this model line is now making some extraordinary claims for your attention if you're in the market for a car of this kind.

Practicalities

At the wheel, the previous forgettable rental car-style cabin is here replaced by a cleaner, simpler, smarter and more interesting design that some premium brands could even learn from. It certainly seems to have been well screwed together by the Ellesmere Port factory near Liverpool. The characteristic fascia element is what Vauxhall refers to as a 'blade'-style panel that stretches right across the cabin trimmed in piano black with a neat chromed edging. From a practicality perspective, this Astra is usefully bigger than most family hatchbacks, with plenty of space for a couple of six-footers in the back so long as the front seats aren't right back on their runners. There's even an abundance of headroom back there, despite the car's plunging roofline. That means getting kids and childseats in and out is that much easier. In the boot, a bigger 370-litre capacity reveals itself. If you need more room, then pushing forward the 60:40 split-folding rear bench frees up 1,210-litres, around 200-litres more than Vauxhall's supposedly larger Insignia model. Vauxhall wanted the Astra to feel special from the driver's seat and by family hatchback standards, it does. Dominating the dash is a beautifully integrated Intellilink infotainment touchscreen that comes in 7 or 8-inch sizes, features smartphone-style 'pinch-and-swipe' functionality and better presents a whole range of functions that on the previous model had to be dealt with by rows of complicated little buttons. The screen is compatible with the latest Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems, via which you can duplicate the functionality of your smartphone handset onto the Intellilink display. My favourite feature on this Astra though, is the one your dealer will be keenest to tell you about - the 'OnStar' personal connectivity and service assistant. This set-up's standard on top SRi and Elite variants, or you can get it as a £400 option lower down the range: either way, I was impressed with the way it makes your motoring life easier and safer. A blue button in the roof behind the rear view mirror connects you to a personal assistant who'll be there 24/7 for just about any journeying query you might have. You simply ask a question - 'where is the McDonalds in the next town?' for example - and you'll get verbal directions or better, if you have sat nav fitted, there'll be an instant destination download straight to your car. OnStar also turns your Astra into a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot. And, more importantly, it'll automatically call the emergency services with your GPS location if the airbags deploy. The system also includes a vehicle tracking system that can automatically disable the car if someone steals it, then pinpoint its location. Should such a theft take place, you simply contact OnStar using a downloadable 'MyVauxhall' smartphone app that if necessary, you can also use to access important vehicle data and remotely lock or unlock your car. For me, this whole set-up's a major Astra selling point.

Behind the Wheel

Put the Astra through its paces on the road and it's hard not to come away impressed. Reducing this seventh generation model's weight by up to 200kgs has had a significant effect on the way this car drives. It's still no Ford Focus but it now soaks up bumps better and turns into the bends more easily, aided by a stiffer chassis and torque vectoring that helps with cornering traction. As before, this Vauxhall does without the kind of independent rear suspension system you'd find on a rival Ford Focus, instead favouring a neat Watts linkage system that claims to reduce sideways motion between the axle and the body of the car as you go through the corners. Under the bonnet, those in search of petrol power have an up-to the-minute range of options. We'd suggest you bypass the most affordable 100PS 1.4-litre engine in favour of the lighter, more responsive and much more efficient 105PS 1.0-litre ECOTEC turbo three cylinder unit. If you need more power, there are a couple of 1.4-litre Turbo powerplants offering 125 or 150PS, plus a top 200PS 1.6 Turbo option. Diesel drivers get Vauxhall's refined 1.6-litre CDTi 'whisper diesel' unit with a choice of three power outputs - 110, 136 or 160PS. The 110PS ecoFLEX variant delivers class-leading efficiency figures - 91.2mpg on the combined cycle and 82g/km of CO2.

Value For Money

List prices have been adjusted for a little extra affordability this time round and that means you'll be paying from just over £15,000 to around £24,000 for mainstream versions of this Astra. The range is based around this five-door hatchback bodystyle, but if you want a bit more versatility, then there's the option of finding a price premium of around £1,000 for the Sports Tourer estate version. From launch, hatch and estate derivatives are being sold alongside the pretty Astra GTC coupe, but that car remains based on the previous sixth generation Astra model. At the affordable end of the petrol line-up, it's well worth trying to find the £700 premium Vauxhall asks to graduate from the entry-level 1.4-litre 100PS unit to the far more responsive and efficient three cylinder 1.0-litre powerplant. Want a diesel? Well there are no duffers in the Astra black pump line-up any more - even the base 110PS 1.6-litre CDTi unit (priced from around £17,000) is impressive. Most buyers though, pay the necessary premium (around £700) to get themselves this engine in pokier 136PS guise - the variant I tried. Conventional automatic transmission is only available on the 150PS 1.4-litre petrol Turbo model or the 136PS version of the 1.6-litre CDTi diesel - for a premium of around £1,300 over the manual variant. However, at the bottom of the range, you can get a simpler 'Easytronic' set-up - essentially a manual gearbox without a clutch - on the 1.0-litre petrol engine for a premium of just £400.

Could I Live With One?

If you were slightly put off the Vauxhall Astra by the dull but worth versions of a few years back, it's definitely time to reacquaint yourself with this famous family hatch. The sixth generation Astra impressed and this smarter seventh generation car is a big stride forwards again. It's not as sharp as a Focus to drive, but to be frank, I don't really care about that and I don't think many other family hatch buyers will either. More relevant is the fact that in terms of comfort and refinement, this Vauxhall is now just about at the head of this highly competitive class. Plus the OnStar connectivity system simplifies your motoring life. In short, there's not much not to like.

Body Glass

  • Dark tinted rear windows (£285.00)

Driver Aids

  • Front and rear parking distance sensors (£480.00)

Driving Mirrors

  • Electric folding door mirrors

Entertainment

  • CD Drive (£135.00)

Security

  • Keyless entry and start (£405.00)

Trim - Leather

  • Perforated siena leather - Jet black (£0.00)

Exterior Body Features

  • Premium paint (£655.00)
  • Solid paint
  • Two coat metallic paint (£575.00)
  • Brilliant paint (£285.00)
  • Power tilt/slide sunroof (£550.00)

Paint - Special

  • Brilliant Paint - Summit white (£285.00)
  • Brilliant paint - Lava red (£285.00)
  • Premium paint - Dark caramel (£655.00)
  • Premium paint - Emerald green (£655.00)
  • Premium paint - Darkmoon blue (£655.00)

Exterior Lights

  • Front fog lights
  • Halogen Projector Headlamps
  • LED tail lights (£205.00)
  • Manual headlight beam levelling

Paint - Metallic

  • Two coat metallic - Sovereign silver (£575.00)
  • Two coat metallic - Mineral black (£575.00)
  • Two coat metallic - Cosmic grey (£575.00)
  • Two coat metallic - Flip Chip silver (£575.00)

Wheels - Alloy

  • 17" Multi-spoke alloy wheels
  • 18" Bi-colour alloy wheels (£480.00)
  • 17" Gloss black five twin spoke alloy wheels (£100.00)

Wheels - Spare

  • Emergency spare wheel (£110.00)
  • Tyre inflation kit

Driving Mirrors

  • Electric folding door mirrors

Paint - Solid

  • Solid - Agean blue (£0.00)

Fuel Consumption - ICE

  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: True
  • EC Urban (mpg): 33.2
  • EC Extra Urban (mpg): 53.3
  • EC Combined (mpg): 43.5
  • WLTP - MPG - Low - Min: 31.7
  • WLTP - MPG - Low - Max: 31.4
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium - Min: 41.5
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium - Max: 40.9
  • WLTP - MPG - High - Min: 46.3
  • WLTP - MPG - High - Max: 44.8
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High - Min: 39.2
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High - Max: 38.2
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - Min: 40.4
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - Max: 39.2
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low - Min: 8.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low - Max: 9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium - Min: 6.8
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium - Max: 6.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High - Min: 6.1
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High - Max: 6.3
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High - Min: 7.2
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High - Max: 7.4
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - Min: 7
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - Max: 7.2

General

  • Coin Series: Elite Nav
  • Coin Description: T 16V 200
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Years: 3
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Mileage: 60000
  • Manufacturers Paintwork Guarantee - Years: 1
  • Man Corrosion Perforation Guarantee - Years: 6
  • Safety Concerns?: False
  • Special Edition: False
  • Special Order: False
  • Based On ID: N
  • Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07: 21E
  • Service Interval Mileage: 20000
  • Service Interval Frequency - Months: 12
  • Timing Belt Interval Mileage: 100000
  • Timing Belt Interval Frequency - Months: 72
  • NCAP Adult Occupant Protection %: 86
  • NCAP Child Occupant Protection %: 84
  • NCAP Pedestrian Protection %: 83
  • NCAP Safety Assist %: 75
  • NCAP Overall Rating - Effective February 09: 5
  • Badge Power: 200
  • Badge Engine CC: 1.6
  • Vehicle Homologation Class: M1

Engine and Drive Train

  • Cylinders - Bore (mm): 79
  • Cylinders - Stroke (mm): 81.5
  • CC: 1598
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder Layout: IN-LINE
  • Number of Valves: 16
  • Camshaft: DOHC
  • Fuel Delivery: TURBO INJECTION
  • Catalytic Convertor: True
  • Engine Layout: FRONT TRANSVERSE
  • Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
  • Transmission: MANUAL
  • Gears: 6 SPEED
  • Engine Code: B16SHT

Performance

  • 0 to 62 mph (secs): 7.3
  • Top Speed: 146
  • Engine Power - BHP: 200
  • Engine Power - PS: True
  • 0 to 60 mph (secs): True
  • Engine Power - KW: 147
  • Engine Power - RPM: 4700
  • Engine Torque - LBS.FT: 221
  • Engine Torque - NM: 300
  • Engine Torque - RPM: 1700
  • Engine Torque - MKG: 30.6

Weight and Capacities

  • Minimum Kerbweight: 1275
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 1890
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 48
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: 1700
  • Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked: 650
  • Max. Loading Weight: 615
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Up): 370
  • No. of Seats: 5
  • Max. Roof Load: 75
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Down): 1210
  • Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb: 11.5

Tyres

  • Tyre Size Front: 225/45 R17
  • Tyre Size Rear: 225/45 R17
  • Tyre Size Spare: TYRE REPAIR KIT
  • Wheel Type: 17" ALLOY
  • Wheel Style: MULTI SPOKE
  • Alloys?: True
  • Space Saver?: False

Vehicle Dimensions

  • Length: 4370
  • Width: 1809
  • Wheelbase: 2662
  • Width (including mirrors): 2042
  • Height: 1485
  • Height (including roof rails): N

Emissions - ICE

  • CO2 (g/km): 147
  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • HC+NOx: N
  • Particles: N

Fuel Economy

  • 46.3 MPG (Combined)
  • 35.3 MPG (Urban)
  • 56.5 MPG (Extra Urban)
Fuel Tank Size: 48 Litres

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