Vauxhall’s new Astra was an instant success with private and business customers when it arrived late last year. The seventh generation hatchback is British built and designed and sits right at the top of its class. It has won numerous awards including Scottish Car of the Year and it also holds the European Car of the Year title. No surprise then that the Estate version I have been sampling is equally impressive. It might not match some of its rivals for overall space but it is just as good to drive as the hatch and is even more practical. The Sports Tourer is a very good looking car and it is offered with a wide variety of engines and a number of trim levels. The test car featured the smallest engine available in the range - the 1.0-litre three cylinder petrol turbo which produces 105PS. Surprisingly the little unit always felt willing and able to cope with the Tourer - which is considerably larger than the hatch. If you are planning on carrying heavy loads you will probably need more grunt in the shape of one of the diesel units. With a top speed of 121mph, the 1.0-litre takes 11 seconds to reach 60mph and has emissions of 103g/km. It is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox and if you make good use of it you will have no trouble keeping pace with most traffic. This version of the Tourer should also be very economical to run with stop/start and a claimed combined figure of 62.8 miles to the gallon. Estates have to be practical and the Tourer offers a 540-litre boot which can be increased to 1,630 litres if you drop the 40:20:40 split rear seats. The tailgate opening is a useful square shape and with no lip it is easy to load larger objects. Room for passengers is excellent with five adults being able to travel in comfort and there are plenty additional storage areas and power sockets. In SRI Nav trim the Tourer is loaded with standard features. Externally you get 17-inch alloy wheels, front fogs, rear spoiler,silver-effect roof rails, automatic lighting, door to door illumination as well as LED daytime running lights. The smart cabin features bags of equipment including a leather steering wheel with audio controls, sports seats, air conditioning, trip computer, electric front and rear windows and electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, cruise control and a tyre pressure monitoring system. You also get Vauxhall’s Navi 900 IntelliLink system and their OnStar personal connectivity and service assistant - which is free for the first 12 months. The Tourer also boasts the latest safely equipment including a driving assistance pack with an intelligent camera system and hill start assist. It drives and handles well and at £20,585 feels good value for a quality product. It provides all that is good about the hatch plus added space and versatility.
Handsome the Tourer is attractive from all angles