Used Vauxhall Astra Hatchback (2004 - 2010) Driving & Performance

Review by David Ross on
Last Updated: 28 Aug 2009
3.5
The Vauxhall Astra is a good all-rounder that's sharply styled and easy to live with. It's not the most exciting or involving car to drive but it's safe and composed with good road manners while there's a wide range of strong diesel and petrol engines.
4 out of 5

Performance

The wide range of engines is kicked off by the 90bhp 1.4-litre model. With a 0-62mph time of 12.8 seconds, it's acceptable for buyers who spend most of their time in town and fuel consumption is a useful 44mpg, however it's outclassed on the motorway. The 1.6-litre offers similar performance but better punch while the 1.8-litre has 140bhp and offers more than enough performance for most.

Two turbocharged 2.0-litre offerings - with either 170bhp or 200bhp - give Astra the punch to take on hot hatches while ultimate performance comes from the 2.0T VXR with 240bhp, which is covered in a separate review. The 2.0T was replaced by a 180bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre in late 2006 and the non-turbocharged 1.6-litre went from 105bhp to 115bhp.There's an equally strong diesel choice too with no fewer than three engine sizes and five power outputs - all of which deliver good economy.

The 1.3 CDTi (from mid 2005) has 90bhp and although it can feel stressed at times, it returns a good 58mpg. The 1.7 CDTi isn't a particularly refined engine, it's available with 80bhp or 100bhp but the 1.9 CDTi is smoother and more powerful - plus with 120bhp and 150bhp its as fast as the petrol models. Our choice would be the 150bhp version of the 1.9CDTi which offers strong performance but will return 50mpg (identical to the 120bhp version).

In late 2008 an ecoFLEX model with a 1.7 CDTi engine was introduced. This has 110bhp - 10bhp more than the standard 1.7-litre diesel, and yet thanks to engine management tweaks, emits 119g/km of CO2 and averages 63mpg.

3.5 out of 5

Handling

Thanks to good body control through bends and decent composure on country lanes the Astra is safe and predictable to drive. But it's fair to say that the Vauxhall isn't the most exciting family hatchback around - there are faults, such as the steering, which lacks feel and suffers from kickback over rough roads while the sometimes reluctant gearshift is another gripe.

Overall it lacks the precision and agility of the class best. Sporty SXi and SRi models have lowered suspension and quicker steering which improves things somewhat and whichever model you go for, all ride well.