Astra sets the standard
AVING a father who is a confirmed fan of the Vauxhall Astra means this evaluation will be subject to a forensic analysis worthy of Emilia Fox in the hit TV show Silent Witness.
The fact that he is one of the few things older than Vauxhall’s compact family hatchback will give him no comfort – but the way the model continually manages to set new standards, after almost 40 years on the road, will.
Indeed the latest version already has a car of the year crown to its name and is a worthy successor to Astras of yore.
Developed in the UK you can see why judges were impressed as the seventh generation model is good looking, packed with the latest tech and exciting to drive.
The exterior of the SRi Nav model is a sharp-dressed dude with natty 17-inch twin-spoke alloy wheels, smart LED daytime running lights and a neat chrome effect for the upper window trim.
The interior is roomy for a small family hatchback with four adults able to be accommodated in comfort and five without the need to be doublejointed.
Luggage capacity is good at 370 litres with the rear seats in use, which in practical terms means the weekly family shop is swallowed with aplomb. The sports-style front seats are comfortable and supportive while the leather-covered steering wheel is festooned with controls.
There is a lot of technology packed into the Astra with the headline act being Vauxhall’s OnStar navigation and concierge system – accessed through an eight-inch colour touchscreen and available on higher specified models, including the SRi Nav.
It has three buttons – a blue one used to contact an OnStar advisor, a red SOS button for emergencies and a privacy button to switch the GPS locator off.
A call centre manned 24/7 can help you find a destination before sending it to the sat nav system in the car while the mobile phone wifi hotspot allows connection to the internet.
Dual-zone air con ensures a pleasant atmosphere while handy features include an adjustable front armrest and powered windows front and rear.
Vauxhall really go to town on the gizmo front from the moment you open the doors via the remote control fob, turn the key and take the Astra out for a spin.
There is automatic everything – from the wipers to the headlights – while cruise control with speed limiter, electronic stability control and hill start assist are useful aids for the driver.
Start to wander out of your lane and the steering wheel vibrates and resists. Indicating before manoeuvring stops this occurring and so promotes a good but vanishing habit among modern motorists.
A comfortable position behind the wheel is easy to achieve as the driver’s seat is fully adjustable and the steering wheel can be set for reach and rake.
There’s a wide range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from including the punchy 1.6-litre oil burner sampled here.
Aided by a slick six-speed manual gearbox it powers the car from a standing start to 60mph in nine seconds on its way to a top speed of 127mph.
It offers low carbon dioxide emissions and, with the addition of stopstart technology, an excellent average fuel economy figure claimed at 72.4mpg that during a week of mixed motoring proved not to be total pie in the sky.
There is a Sport switch to sharpen up responses when you feel in the mood for a bit of excitement while safety is handled by an intelligent forward camera system, traffic sign recognition, following distance indicator and forward collision alert with automatic city emergency braking, as well as six airbags and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
The whole package adds up to one of the top compact hatchbacks on the market, which will please my dad no
TEST DRIVE VAUXHALL ASTRA SRI
Model: Vauxhall Astra SRi Nav 1.6 CDTI Price: £23,280 Mechanical: 136ps, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox Max speed: 127mph 0-60mph: 9 seconds Combined mpg: 72.4 Insurance group: 19 CO2 emissions: 103g/km BiK rating: 22% Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles