Vauxhall Astra: hot hatch triple test

Astra vs Golf vs Focus

In our huge hatchback triple test, Lewis and Tim both think their cars are imperious. That's cute, but there's an elephant in this room. The Vauxhall Astra is the best, despite what they may think. I'm not being precious here either. My claim is the result of an evaluation of the cold, hard facts of the matter. I've split the winning factors into five bite-sized portions.

1. Clever boot - Not only does my Astra have the biggest boot of the three cars, it also has the cleverest too. The FlexFloor system means it's adaptable for various situations depending on your needs. It can be flat, you can fold the rear seats down to provide a much longer flat area should you need to load larger objects and you can hide items under the false floor by creating a shallower boot if required.

2. Power! - There's no escaping it. The Astra is miles quicker than the other two hatchbacks. It'll get to 62mph in 8.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 134mph. Tim's Golf takes 10.6 seconds to get to 62mph, while top speed is 118mph. The Focus will hit 62mph in 10.9 seconds and go on to a top speed of 120mph.

3. Handling - I'll admit the Astra's ride isn't the best of the three. The SRi-spec sports suspension means it's a somewhat jiggly affair. Through corners though I believe it's a different story. The Astra lower, so more composed and balanced. It feels well-heeled through quicker bends and easy to manoeuvre at slower speeds. Although the steering lacks feel, it's still sharp and direct and doesn't leave you in a hedge when you begin to wind up the speed a bit.

4. Kit - It'll come as no surprise that my car has the most equipment since it is the most expensive of the trio on test. Tim's Golf comes with barely more than seats and a steering wheel, yet can be forgiven to an extent thanks to its £17k asking price. Lewis' Focus comes with a slightly more impressive list of standard equipment, but weighs in at just over £21k on-the-road. Mine costs over £25k, but for that you get everything you need and a lot more besides. The excellent stereo system and sat nav are welcome additions, while DAB radio means interference is never a problem. Mine also has a removable tow bar with trailer stability programme, front and rear parking sensors, ergonomic sports seats and a leather sports steering wheel.

5. Looks - The latest shape of Astra is a distinct leap forward for Vauxhall. Gone is the 'acquired taste' look of the last car, replaced with a far more refined and stylish set of aesthetics. The sweeping lines belie the fact that the car has five doors, and the chrome highlights give the car a premium feel. The bright red paintwork really turns heads, making it jump out in a crowd of drab company cars. Even the 17-inch wheels on my car look markedly better than the smaller offerings on the other two cars, offering a sportier feel to proceedings.

Your honour: I rest my case.

Current mileage: 2,420

Average mpg: 39.1