Vauxhall Astra SRi NAV 1.4i 150.
For – great drive, quality, comfort, price.
Against – nothing.
“The new Astra is a world away from previous models. You could easily be in an Audi or a BMW, and not just because it goes so well, but because whenever you touch a door handle or gear lever or switch, it feels as though no expense has been spared.”
As soon as I grabbed the door handle on the new Astra, the quality was clear. When the door shut with that reassuring Germanic, or in this case, Scouse-inspired clunk, I knew this car was going to be very impressive.
Just about everything else about the car, built near Liverpool, scored hugely. It is up to 440 lbs lighter than its predecessor. It is slightly smaller and lower than the previous model, but has more room inside. The 148 hp 1.4 litre turbo charged petrol engine was lively and quiet. The handling was crisp and precise. As you’d expect from a car sporting the SRI badge, it munched the motorway miles to the manner born.
The six-speed manual gearbox was a delight. The suspension, which is now called on to perform miracles because of the decades of road maintenance neglect by those that rule over us, did a great job. The interior was classy with quality materials and a terrific dashboard. The seat material wasn’t to my taste, but they were comfortable enough. The brakes were very sharp, but that wouldn’t be a problem with a bit of getting used to. The LED headlights were amazing, although that was a £995 option.
Prices start at £15,295. The version I drove retailed at £19,595 and with LED headlights and electronic climate control was priced at a very reasonable £20,985. There are petrol and diesel engines ranging from 99 hp to 197 hp. There’s a six-speed automatic transmission option on some models.
The Astra, which competes with tough competitors like the Volkswagen Golf and the Ford Focus, isn’t just relying on its ability as car to attract buyers, it has embraced the new connectivity fashion. Buyers will be able to choose the General Motors OnStar communications package and the new generation IntelliLink infotainment system that is compatible with Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay.
OnStar is already an established player in the U.S. If an airbag deploys, OnStar is alerted automatically. An advisor will then contact the vehicle to determine whether help is required. If there is no response, emergency responders are immediately sent to the vehicle. OnStar also turns the new Astra into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Up to seven devices, from smart-phones to tablets, can be connected simultaneously. I had a bit of trouble signing on to the system and getting it to talk to my SmartPhone, but once connected it was impressive. There’s an OnStar light and switch just above the rear-view mirror. Press it and you make almost instant phone contact with a Vauxhall operative who might advise you how to work the SatNav. When you’ve downloaded the app on to your mobile, you can load up your coming journey on the SatNav while you’re having breakfast. You can turn on the lights and warning lights from your house. You can check on the range left in the tank and the tyre pressures. You can read the owner’s manual. Whatever turns you on.
Other technology options include Lane Departure Warning, Collision Alert with Collision Imminent Braking and Advanced Park Assist. You can buy seats with a massage function, while rear passengers can also look forward to more comfort with heated seats.
Vauxhall said the Astra can be up to £2,200 cheaper than the outgoing model and it has simplified the range. The range steps include Design, Tech Line, Energy, SRi and Elite, with Nav versions of the SRi and Elite trims also available.
The range starts with the 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine from £15,995. The range-topping 1.6 litre, 197 hp motor is available in SRi trim priced from £20,435. The diesel offering includes the 1.6-litre ‘Whisper Diesel’ 108 hp which starts at £17,495. Whisper it, but Vauxhall claims it will return 91.1 mpg. Maximum Pinocchio’s probably. The first OnStar package is available with an SRi costing £17,895.
A world away
The new Astra is a world away from previous models in terms of quality and driveability. Driving it around you could easily be in an Audi or a BMW, and not just because it goes so well, but because whenever you touch a door handle or gear lever or switch, it feels as though no expense has been spared. The fuel economy was pretty good for a car of this size – 35 mpg – and I’m sure I could improve on that if I drove it for longer. Vauxhall claims 51.4 mpg. That’s a demerit, but I still can’t resist awarding the Astra a rare and coveted WintonsWorld 5 out of 5 stars.
|Vauxhall Astra SRi NAV 1.4i 150|
|Engine:||1.4 litre, four-cylinder petrol|
|Power:||148 hp @ 5,000-5,600 rpm|
|Torque:||235 Nm @ 2,000-4,000|
|Gearbox:||six speed manual|
|Acceleration:||0-60 mph 7.8 seconds|
|Top Speed:||134 mph|
|Fuel Consumption:||claimed combined – 51.4 mpg (32% deviation)
WintonsWorld road test - 35.0 mpg
|Emissions class:||Euro 6|
|Service Intervals:||20,000 miles-1 year|
|Boot capacity:||370 litres/1,210|
|Competition:||VW Golf, Mazda 3, Hyundai i30, Kia C’eed, Audi A3, BMW 1, Proton-GEN2, Peugeot 308, Renault Megane, Toyota Auris, Honda Civic, Nissan Note, Citroen C4, Mitsubishi Lancer, Ford Focus, Mercedes A class, Skoda Octavia|
|For:||great drive, quality, comfort, price|