Vauxhall Astra
Vauxhall Astra

Did you know that the Vauxhall Astra is Britain's best-selling, UK-built car? Well, according to Vauxhall it is, and it has just morphed into a new model.

The new Vauxhall Astra appeared in showrooms in December and is expected to continue its best-selling run by offering "levels of innovation and technology normally found in a class above", with prices for the five-strong range starting at a reasonable, £15,675.

The Vauxhall Astra's five trim levels are: S, Exclusiv, Sri, SE and Elite. Add to this, a choice of eight engines with a new 1.3 ecoFLEX model arriving any time now, and there has to be something in the line-up to suit most tastes.

While Vauxhall expects that the diesel engines; a 1.7 CDTi with outputs of 110PS and 125PS or a 2.0CDTi 160PS, will be the favourites. However, the petrol units in the form of a 1.4VVTi in 87 or 100PS sizes and the 1.6VVTi or 1.6 without the VVTi but with a turbo, will certainly make a healthy contribution to the sales figures.

But let's go back to the most immediate selling point - image. It has been about six years since the Vauxhall Astra had a major overhaul. That was when the Mk5 took over and now we have the Mk6 with its new looks, which are more in keeping with the flagship Vauxhall Insignia and the new face of Vauxhall, in general.

Longer by 17cm than the previous model, the new Vauxhall Astra also boasts a longer wheelbase for that extra bit of cabin space. It is sleeker and more coupe-like than the previous generation and the exterior design has been somewhat simplified.

At the front, the lower grille has been widened and the foglights moved further out. Above, the new 'eagle-eye' headlight clusters accentuate the width of the car as does the new grille complete with updated logo.

In profile, the new Vauxhall Astra looks lean and low, whether it sits on 16- or 18-inch wheels. The design line or 'blade' that runs along the base of the doors, flicks upwards just ahead of the rear wheels, forming an imaginary line that joins up with the tapered edge of the triangular rear quarterlights. The roof also tapers and, together with the wraparound rear screen and taillight units, helps to complete the sporty look.

There is a subtle shoulder line that rises just short of the Vauxhall Astra's front wheelarches and moves through the door handles, rear light clusters and joins at the logo on the boot. Although the rear haunches are emphasised, the rear end displays smart, clean lines but remains unmistakably Vauxhall.

Inside the Vauxhall Astra is a different matter. To clarify, I'm only referring to the centre console, which has a bewildering array of buttons, labels and illumination. Admittedly, some of it is linked to the sat-nav but it is still overly complicated. Some time with the handbook is recommended as initially, it is far from 'at-a-glance' operation. Perhaps I was having a bad day but I had to do just that in order to find out how to switch the radio on and input into the navigation system.

Once mastered, the Satellite navigation system proved to be far better than the one that took me to Vauxhall's offices in the first place. Unfortunately, for a car that is likely to spend a great deal of its working life travelling the country, sat-nav is only available as an option on every trim level and added £832.72, to the £22,408.04, asking price of the Vauxhall Astra test car.


Published : 01/02/10 Author : Melanie Carter

Vauxhall Astra News

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