This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Vauxhall Astra Estate (04-10) review.

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Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

Similar range of engines to the hatchback, although high performance models were never introduced into the line-up. The modest-but-lively 1.4 (90 bhp) is the entry-level unit. Its lack of power means it's inadequate for the business buyer as it struggles with heavy loads. All other engines are punchy and willing with the exception of the eight-valve 1.6 petrol unit and 1.7 TD.

Most powerful petrols are the 123 bhp 1.8i 16v and 2.0 16v replaced by 2.2 16v in 2000. The best diesels are 2.0 Di and 2.0 DTi as they're quicker, quieter and more powerful than the earlier 1.7 TD and 1.7 DTi units.

This generation of Astra benefited from Lotus chassis development. That means that there are more thrills to be had in an Astra than other cars of this class. Without sacrificing ride comfort, it manages to offer an engaging drive that’s more refined than before with well-weighted steering and responsive handling. Lotus had a hand in the chassis development.

Ride quality is still good, even when it's fully laden.