Vauxhall Astra: Sussing out the stereo

  • The Navi 600 stereo system costs £855
  • Good button layout but how do you 'select'?
  • DAB digital radio performs extremely well

My Astra has several optional extras fitted, but the most expensive is the Navi600 stereo system.

For the princely sum of £855 you get an all-singing, all-dancing set-up which includes a sat nav system, a CD player, an MP3 player, a slot for an SD card, a USB connection with iPod control, an aux-in socket, a stereo radio and a seven-inch colour monitor to display all the relevant information on.

What you don't get is upgraded speakers, which is a shame since my last test car - the Mazda3 - had a Bose system with some extremely clear and loud speakers fitted. Maybe I was spoilt, but I like my music and found the Vauxhall system somewhat lacklustre.

Another annoyance with the Navi 600 is the way you have to navigate through the menus. Although the button placement is fairly intuitive and the steering wheel controls work well, there are times when you have to choose from a selection of options on the screen using the large rotary switch - for instance when you are choosing a radio station - and this means you have to 'select'.

Now, the first time I jumped into the car I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to do it. Finally after much frustration I found that you had to push the outer rim of the rotary button. It's not exactly obvious, and I was pleased to hear I wasn't the only one who had a problem.

"It's counter-intuitive," complains Lewis Kingston. "Usually on a system like this you'd rotate the rim and then push the centre to select, but in this case it's not immediately obvious what you're meant to do."

Chris Ebbs agrees: "It's confusing. I don't see why you don't just press the middle."

Another option related to the stereo is the the addition of DAB digital radio, which will set you back another £160.

There's a lot of debate going on right now about whether DAB is a suitable replacement for the analogue system which is due to be switched off in the coming years. Many people say that the DAB is unreliable and the quality is much lower, but I have to say I noticed neither of these problems. All I got was perfect signal.

Perhaps I didn't visit the right areas, but I just didn't have a problem. If you're big into your radio then I'd say it's £160 well spent, since even if you do have a problem you always have the option of going back to good old analogue at the touch of a button.

Large screen is well-placed and easy to read

Steering wheel controls work extremely well

To 'select', push the silver rim of the large central dial. Not exactly obvious!

Current mileage: 7,904

Average mpg: 44.0