Both love and friendship start with the first sight. And that is why the designers have put extra effort into the design of this sixth generation of the Vauxhall Astra. Characteristic for this last generation Vauxhall is the so-called " Vauxhall Vizor": a black band across the front that visually connects the headlights, grille and brand logo. This gives the Astra a modern, confident and at the same time approachable look.
Space and equipment
Vauxhall opted for a dashboard that stands in front of the occupants rather than lying flat, which gives a less spacious but more secure feeling. The space in the front and rear is average, but the seating comfort is above average. This is thanks to the so-called "AGR" seats that have been developed in cooperation with the German Institute for Healthy Backs (in all versions except the base-version).
Inside, a black band again defines the image, as the display behind the steering wheel and a display in the centre of the dashboard are visually connected by a black casing. This already looks good as standard, but when the "Pure Panel Pro" is chosen, the displays are larger and the finish is of significantly higher quality. In both cases the user can decide how the information is layed out on the screens (and the optional "head-up" display) and thus Vauxhall makes optimal use of the possibilities this technology offers. Good to know: despite the fact that the displays are not placed under a ridge, reflection in the windscreen or from incoming sunlight is minimal.
By saying "Hey Vauxhall" a voice-activated assistant can be summoned, but in practice this feature works poorly and understands very little. Perhaps for this reason, a long press on the speech button on the steering wheel invokes the smart assistant on a connected smartphone (Apple or Android). Optionally the Astra can be fitted with a hi-fi system that is in fact a simplified version of the Focal system from sister brand Peugeot. And that is how it sounds: full and clear, but not as powerful and detailed as the original.
Depending on the chosen trim level, the Astra offers all the usual luxury and safety systems that can be expected from a car in this price range. The clever "IntelliLux Pixel LED" headlights deserve a special mention. These vary the length and width of the light beam depending on the situation, without blinding oncoming traffic. By using 84 light elements per headlamp, the computer has even more control over the beam and this lighting is even more advanced than that of Vauxhall's own top model: the Insignia. On well lit roads, the effect is minimal, but on dark inner roads, Pixel LED is a real asset.
To appeal to as many people as possible, the Astra is available with petrol, diesel, hybrid and fully electric engines. Vauxhall therefore does not choose a stand-alone electric model. Even the looks are almost the same regardless of the technology underneath.
For this test, a conventional petrol engine was driven first. This three-cylinder engine delivers 130 HP / 230 Nm. When the manual gearbox is chosen, the ratios have been chosen so that the Astra is smooth and even eager in the city. At higher speeds the liveliness disappears in fifth and sixth gear, but the car is economical and quiet. The latter is also thanks to the sound insulation of both the windscreen and the front side windows (only on the more luxurious versions). On a demanding route with country roads, city traffic and differences in altitude, the fuel consumption was 5.6 litres per 100 km.
Next to a traditional petrol engine, a diesel engine is on the price list. This delivers its power from a low engine speed and the gear ratios of the 8-speed automatic almost perfectly match the character of the diesel. Therefore the Astra diesel is very easy to drive and on the same route as with the petrol engine only consumed 4.5 litres per 100 km. Because of the harmful composition of the exhaust gases, the pressure on the environment is nevertheless higher than with a petrol engine.
Although the combustion engines do exactly what is expected of them, after just a few metres of driving the plug-in hybrid they seem like hopelessly outdated technology. The PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) moves with much more ease and offers much more flexibility at higher speeds. Moreover, the hybrid is even quieter and lacks any kind of vibration from the engine. When asked, both engines combine their strengths and then this hybrid with its 180 HP / 360 Nm is viciously fast.
Charging can be done at home or at a public charging point. Please note that the Astra charges with 3.6 kW as standard. A faster 7.4 kW on-board charger is only available as an option. According to Vauxhall, 60 km can be driven fully electrically. During this test drive this was 48 km. After that the battery meter reads "0%", but in fact there is still enough power left to assist the petrol engine. Thanks to this combination the hybrid is also superior to engines without electrical assistance. When charging every 50 km or so, zero consumption is possible. Without recharging, the fuel consumption is about 6 litres per 100 km (same demanding trajectory as the other engines) and that is higher than other hybrids.
That the Astra is a true people's friend is shown by its handling. The Astra has "linear" handling, which means that the car reacts the same under different circumstances. It doesn't matter which engine is chosen, because Vauxhall has adjusted the suspension for each engine to achieve the same character.
When driving calmly, the Astra offers an uneventful drive. Then the Astra is almost subservient. Compared to the Peugeot 308, which uses the same technology under the bonnet, the Astra has a firmer suspension. However, the longer suspension travel make up for that. In the sports mode, the Astra shows a bit more character. Then the modern underpinning provides plenty of grip and stability and the Astra adapts itself perfectly to the wishes of the driver. A true friend to all!
Vauxhall introduces the sixth generation of the Astra. From now on the Astra offers the most modern technology available when it comes to luxury, safety and drive. Vauxhall does not choose to use this to make the car more fun or interesting. The Astra does not show off its advanced technology like other brands do. After all, the Astra is not a car for enthusiasts, but a car for the general public.
As much as possible Vauxhall opted for easy handling and a familiar character. Although the (semi) electric drive is absolutely superior to the more familiar internal combustion engines, the Astra is always easy to drive and unevenful. This may give the car a less strong character, but it will not bother anyone and that is the way to make friends!
- Great handling
- Wide choice of engines
- Relatively high consumption when not charging the hybrid
- Voice guided assistant reacts badly and understands little