Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016
- Good handling
- Wide variety of engines to choose from
- It is cheap to buy and run
- Rear view is restricted in the estate
- 1.7-litre diesel engine is noisy
- Poor dash layout
This new generation of Astra's is proving to be just as popular and reliable as past models and it handles surprisingly well. There are two models to choose from, the estate or hatchback with the additional option of being either a three or five door on the hatchback. Either way they offer great space and practicality with a wide range of engines that should cater to most peoples needs.
Exterior and Interior
The hatchback comes in the form of either a five or three door and is nicely styled making it easy to live with. The estate is just as nice to look at and comes with more room in the back for passengers than the hatchback. The interior isn't as well made and thought out as we would like it to be, but it is a lot better than the previous Astra with there being enough space in the back for three passengers. The seats are comfortable and supportive making them good for even the longest of journeys. The boot space of the hatchback isn't as big as some of its rivals, but it is still big enough to accommodate a weekly shop. However, the awkward shape of the boot opening and high lip limits the size of items that you can get in. The rear seats do fold down however they don't fold completely flat and there isn't much space in the cabin for smaller pieces of luggage. The boot on the estate is obviously bigger obviously, but it isn't as big as some of its rivals with 1550litres of space. It also comes with an optional FlexOrganiser pack which is a set of dividing bars that fit into points on the floor of the boot and work a lot more effectively at keeping luggage separate and secure than a simple net.
The quality of the dash is impressive, but the buttons are awkwardly laid out and the air-con is difficult to understand at first. Trim wise, there are several options to choose from with the entry level being labeled 'Life' which comes with central locking, ABS, electric front windows, air-con, CD stereo, four airbags, 15-inch wheels and split folding rear seats. The next level up is the Club which has proven to be the most popular and comes with curtain airbags, FlexOrganiser rails for the estates boot and adjustable door mirrors. The Design trim comes with leather seats, rain sensitive wipers, electric rear windows and 16-inch alloys. There are two sporty trims, the SXi which comes with aluminium pedals, lowered suspension and five spoke alloys, and the SRi that comes with 17-inch wheels, a trip computer, tinted rear windows and an alarm.
Performance and Economy
The wide array of engines that come with the Astra should be able to fulfill anyone's needs and range from the small 1.4-litre petrol that offers good fuel economy, to the more power orientated engines such as the 2.0-litre 200bhp petrol or 1.9-litre 150bhp diesel engines. The 1.4-litre petrol is great for driving around town and achieves 46mpg, however, it is found to be lacking when used on the motorways. The 1.6-litre is better on the motorways and is only slightly worse fuel economy wise, but the 1.8-litre should satisfy most drivers with 123bhp going from 0-60mph in 10.2 seconds and manages 36mpg. The two 2.0-litre engines are great and will rival that of hot hatches. The more powerful 200bhp version travels from 0-60mph in just 7.7 seconds. The fuel economy does suffer though with both coming in around 30mpg. The best all round engine in the petrol range would have to be the turbocharged 1.6-litre with its 180bhp enabling it to go from 0-60mph in just 7.9 seconds. This is just 0.2 splits behind the larger 2.0-litre, but with the same fuel efficiency of the 1.8-litres at 36mpg.
The diesel engines offer the same wide range and fill different niches as well with the small 1.3-litre handling most situations well, if feeling a little pushed at times, and returns 58mpg. The smaller of the two 1.7-litres with 80bhp isn't really worth considering as it's even slower than the 1.4-litre with poorer fuel efficiency. The other 1.7-litre fares slightly better, but both of them aren't particularly refined and the other engines are better. The 1.9-litres are great feeling powerful and smooth with the larger 150bhp being the favourite as it is quicker going from 0-60mph in just 8.6 seconds, but returns the same 50mpg as the less powerful engine. The best of the diesels though, if not all the engines, has to be the 1.7-litre ecoFLEX if you are looking for a combination of power and efficiency as it manages 0-60mph in 12.3 seconds, but it returns an impressive 63mpg which is better than any of the other engines across the range. Most of the engines fall into categories 4-6 for insurance purposes but the 1.9-litre diesels falls into groups 11 or 12 and the 2.0-litre petrol's into groups 13 or 14.
Like to Drive
The driving position does feel slightly cramped, but you should be able to find a comfortable driving position thanks to the adjustable seat and steering wheel. The hatchback handles extremely well feeling safe and predictable with a supple ride, although the steering does lack feeling. The sportier versions the SXi and SRi come with lowered suspension and quicker steering which does help to improve things slightly. The estate handles almost as well as the smaller hatchback with accurate steering and always feels composed. There is some body roll in the corners, but this is a heavy car so that is to be expected and it is only minimal. The sporty estate models also come with the same lowered suspension and quickened steering which does help. The rear pillars are quite thick though and do prevent some rear visibility in both models.
Faults and Repairs
Astra's have proven to be very reliable over the years and these two models are no different. There have been a few glitches with the electrics, but these are usually easy to fix. Repair costs are also fairly cheap as are services with any good mechanic being able to tackle most problems the car may have.