This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Vauxhall Astra Hatchback review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Buyers have a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines ranging from the modest-but-lively 1.4 (90 bhp) to 2.0 Turbo (200 bhp). All engines are punchy and willing with the exception of the eight-valve 1.6 petrol unit and 1.7 TD. Sportiest options are the 115 bhp 1.8i 16v, 2.0 16v (from Sept 98) replaced by 2.2 16v in 2000 and 2.0 16v Turbo. The best diesels are 2.0 Di and 2.0 DTi; quicker, quieter and more powerful than the earlier 1.7 TD and 1.7 DTi units.

There are more thrills to be had with Astra than some other cars in its 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 fully laden.