- Lower running costs
- Increased technology levels
- More engaging drive
- Greater cabin space
- Breaks little new ground
- Rivals are more spacious
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With a sharper-edged design and lightweight underpinnings, the all-new, seventh generation Vauxhall Astra hatchback range has a tough job on its hands with such an array of accomplished rivals in the compact family car market.
Chief among the British-built model’s challengers are the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, but with others such as the SEAT Leon and Peugeot 308 vying for attention, along with attractive long warranties and reliability records for the Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed, the Astra is facing stiff competition.
On sale initially as a five-door hatchback, it will be joined in early 2016 by the new Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer estate. There’s no official word as yet on a replacement for the coupe-bodied Vauxhall GTC, though.
Less weight, more space
Underneath the crisper styling of the latest Vauxhall Astra is an all-new platform which is on average 200kg lighter than that of the old model. Combined with slipperier aerodynamics, the Astra’s thirst for fuel is reduced too.
That inherent lightness also benefits the Astra’s agility, making it feel much more nimble both around town and on windier back roads. Revised suspension settings and a suite of electronic systems are designed to make the Vauxhall more enjoyable to drive than before.
Inside there’s more space for passengers, allowing four six-foot adults to sit comfortably, while there’s also been a revamp of the dashboard. The new-style interior mimics that of the recently revised Corsa and Adam, employs higher quality plastics and is sensibly zoned with buttons collectively located depending upon their functions.
Efficient range of new engines
Whether petrol or diesel, almost the entire range of engines offered in the latest Vauxhall Astra are turbocharged, the exception being the 99bhp 1.4-litre petrol which serves as an entry-level point for the range.
Turbocharged versions of that engine come in 123bhp and 148bhp power outputs and are expected to be the most popular with petrol-engined buyers. The more powerful of the two is claimed to reach 60mph from a standstill in 7.8 seconds yet still returns a quoted 51.4mpg.
Already familiar from the Corsa and Adam is the three-cylinder 1-litre motor generating 104bhp, while the range is topped – at least until a VXR derivative arrives – by a 1.6-litre 197bhp engine.
Diesel fans are offered a choice of three different versions of the 1.6-litre ‘Whisper’ CDTi unit in 108bhp, 134bhp and - with twin turbochargers - 158bhp. All are impressively quiet power plants but it’s the lowest-powered of the trio which offers the greatest efficiencies, with claims of 91.1mpg and CO2 emissions of just 82g/km.
Simplified range, generously equipped
Unusually for Vauxhall, the latest Astra range has been simplified down to just five trim levels but there’s a host of features available normally associated with cars at a much higher price point.
This latest Astra is the first Vauxhall to be available with the firm’s OnStar telematics system, with a concierge service just a button press away. Want to know where the nearest coffee shop is? Ask the OnStar representative and your sat-nav will be automatically instructed to direct you there.
As befitting modern smartphone technology, the Astra is also available with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, making connecting your device even easier.
Particularly impressive at night are the IntelliLux LED matrix headlight with directional function when cornering and glare-free automatic main beam.
Find out why we rate this latest entrant in the compact family hatchback market so highly by reading the Parkers full Vauxhall Astra review.