Used Vauxhall Astra Hatchback (2009 - 2015) Driving & Performance

Review by Parkers on
Last Updated: 02 Sep 2014
4
Alongside the Ford Focus, the Vauxhall Astra hatchback is one of the most popular cars on sale in the UK. This latest model builds on that strong reputation while adding some much needed refinement and driver appeal.
4 out of 5

Performance

Vauxhall Astra hatchback performance isn't earth-shattering, but there's a good choice of engines available in the Astra, the majority of which have been carried over from the previous model.

Vauxhall Astra petrol engines

The range starts with a 1.4-litre petrol with either 87bhp (only in Exclusiv trim) or 100bhp, both of which are fine for town driving and return an average of 51mpg. New to this Astra is a 1.4 Turbo petrol which produces 140bhp and has a 0-60mph time of 9.0 seconds. Thanks to the turbocharger, it should produce the performance of a larger engine, but with the economy of a smaller unit, similar to Volkswagen's 1.4 TSI engines. However, it's quite disappointing and has to be worked very hard, with little reward in terms of meaningful performance.

What's most surprising is the lack of pulling power in-gear - something which should be a strong point for smaller turbocharged engines such as this. On the plus side it is frugal with an average of 48mpg and it's also available with an automatic gearbox, although this sees fuel economy drop significantly to 40mpg.

A 1.6-litre petrol is offered with 115bhp which is one of the most popular choices. The quickest engine in the line-up however is the 1.6 Turbo with 180bhp which manages the 0-60mph sprint in 7.9 seconds yet still averages an impressive 42mpg, though it needs revving to get the best performance from it.

Vauxhall Astra diesel engines

The diesel engine line-up include a 1.7 CDTi which is available with either 110bhp or 125bhp - the more powerful of which is only available in SRi, SE and Elite trims. Economy is strong as you'd expect and both versions can return 60mpg, while low-down pulling power means it doesn't need to be revved too hard to get decent acceleration.

However, it's not the quietest or smoothest of engines. The top diesel is the 2.0 CDTi with 160bhp and a 0-60mph time of 8.5 seconds. It is capable of 58mpg with the standard manual gearbox. In early 2010 the low emissions ecoFLEX model was introduced. Powered by a 1.3 CDTi engine with 95bhp it emits 109g/km of CO2, making it cheap to tax, while economy is an impressive 67mpg. However, this looks less remarkable when compared with alternatives like the Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion which is more efficient, yet uses a larger and more powerful engine.

New for 2014 a 1.6 CDTi engine joins the range, the cleanest of the Astra’s range to-date and likely to become a company car favourite.

Previously only available on the Zafira Tourer and the Meriva, the new 1.6 CDTi engine is available in two power outputs: 109bhp and 134bhp, in both hatchback and Sports Tourer body styles. The lower powered version achieves 76.3mpg combined with CO2 emissions of 97g/km, while the higher powered options still does well with 72.4mpg combined and 104g/km in CO2.

4 out of 5

Handling

Vauxhall Astra hatchback handling is very good. Compared to the previous Astra, this version is more refined and that's reflected well in the handling. It's more agile and far better on twisting roads with impressive grip and plenty of composure. It's not the most exciting hatchback to drive - the Focus still leads the way in that area - but it is comfortable and reassuring.

The suspension does a superb job of soaking up bumps and potholes with no shakes or vibrations felt through the steering column. It's not perfect though - the steering lacks feel and is a little light even at higher speeds while the gearbox is much happier when not rushed into changes. SRi models come with lowered sports suspension which makes a noticeable difference in corners with a more direct feel and less body roll.

There's an adaptive suspension system called FlexRide - optional on SRi, SE and Elite models - which allows you to alter the way the car drives with three settings - Standard, Sport and Tour. It adjusts the stiffness of the suspension as well as the steering and throttle response.