Loads of interior space makes it very practical
Ford Focus is much better
The reason you see so many Astra vans pounding the fast lane is because they're excellent workhorses and the closely-related estate is no exception. It's a much better car than the early '90s car that it replaced. Changes to the suspension and chassis mean that handling and ride are far more responsive and comfortable than earlier Astra models. Even the estate is a driver's car despite its lack of image.
Used prices are now very competitive for this dependable workhorse and there's a wide range of petrol and diesel engines.