Vauxhall Astra  logo

Vauxhall Astra

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2015
      Body type
      Family hatch
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Understated, capable family hatchback bargain”

Best bits

  • Good all-rounder to drive
  • Cheap to run and reliable
  • Great value to buy second-hand

Not so great

  • Dull styling
  • Humdrum image
  • Depreciates more quickly than some rivals

Read by

Vauxhall Astra Front Side View

Overall verdict

Vauxhall Astra Front Interior

On the inside

Vauxhall Astra Rear Side View

Driving

Vauxhall Astra Right Side View

How much does it cost to run

Vauxhall Astra Rear Side View

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Vauxhall Astra is a good car with a humdrum image and forgettable styling. It’s much better than many give it credit for, particularly the latest versions. Use this as an opportunity to bag a bargain on the secondhand market and get an able, likeable car for thousands less than some of the alternatives."

Vauxhall Astra Front Side View

The 2015 Vauxhall Astra marked a big step on for the British brand. It may have looked reasonably similar to its predecessor, but there were huge changes beneath the surface to ensure it was a far more class-competitive proposition. Vauxhall hasn’t rested on its laurels either, continuing to evolve its hatchback rival to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus ever since.


In a break from the norm, Vauxhall decided to make this model smaller on the outside than its predecessor. Normally, cars grow bigger with every new generation. The new Astra reversed this trend – and some versions benefited by being up to 200kg lighter than the cars they replaced.


Vauxhall didn’t cut back on interior space, though. The Astra is a roomy car with ample passenger space front and rear, plus a decent boot. It’s a match for its best-selling rivals throughout – it’s just a bit smarter about creating space within a smaller footprint.


We admit, the styling is forgettable. The Astra has some neat flourishes, but it’s not a memorable design. The tight shoulder crease is quite smart, and the rear window treatment is neat, but it’s simply not as iconic as a Volkswagen Golf, or as sporty as something like a Seat Leon. Vauxhall’s dull range of colours does it no favours, either. On some cars in this sector, you can get very bold and bright metallics. Vauxhall prefers to stick with silver, grey and dark blue.


The interior is better. Indeed, it marks a big improvement over this model’s predecessor, which had the most baffling and button-packed dashboard out there. It was genuinely intimidating to use, so the more straightforward and minimalist layout of this Astra was most welcome. The infotainment screen is located high up on the dashboard and the heater controls can be used without having to stare at them with a furrowed brow. That wasn’t the case before.


This generation of Astra drives well, too. Indeed, it was unexpectedly good in this regard, offering a compelling blend of good handling and a smooth ride. The old car may have been decidedly humdrum, but this Astra is genuinely good to drive – even more so in revamped 2019 guise, where Vauxhall honed it yet further.


The lightweight construction makes good use of some fuel-efficient engines. Vauxhall offered a fuel-sipping 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine, in direct competition to tiny turbo motors from Ford and Volkswagen. Just as in those cars, it was surprisingly effective, and more likeable than the larger 1.4-litre turbo engines, even though they are ultimately faster.


The diesel engine range was originally focused on the 1.6-litre CDTi, which produced from 110PS up to 160PS in Bi-Turbo form. For fleet car drivers, this engine is a dream come true, because it is swift, quiet and very fuel-efficient, minimising tiresome stops at the filling station (and temptation from the Ginsters shelf).


In 2019, the Astra was updated. Not that you’d know by looking at it, because visual changes were minimal (and, given its bland styling, that’s a bit disappointing). Instead, the underpinnings were improved so it’s even better to drive, new engines were dropped in, and an infotainment system that used tech from new owners PSA (rather than General Motors) was installed.


The Astra isn’t the go-to car in the family hatchback sector. But it’s a strong player nonetheless. It offers good value for money when new, and prices on the secondhand market only enhance that appeal. Let us outline just why it deserves a place on your shortlist.

Is the Vauxhall Astra right for you?

If you want to get the neighbours’ curtains twitching, you’ll need something like a Volkswagen Golf or Renault Megane. Chances are, they probably won’t even notice you’ve bought a new car if you go for the Astra, such is its bland and forgettable styling. From a company that gave us pretty cars such as the latest Insignia and Corsa, this is curious.


It doesn’t fall short in terms of practicality, though. Indeed, if you’re tired of buying ever-larger cars to get the same amount of interior space, you might find its approach rather refreshing. You’ll be able to park it more easily, and it’ll be more straightforward to pop in and out of a tight garage.


Sheer value for money is another positive, both new and used. Vauxhall is not a premium brand, so it makes up for this with a lot of equipment on new models. And the popularity of the Astra means there are plenty on the used market, which keeps prices competitive. You’ll get a lot of car for your money with an Astra.

What’s the best Vauxhall Astra model/engine to choose?

We’ve driven lots of diesel-engined Astras and really rate them. The earlier 1.6-litre CDTi engine is competitive, and the more recent 1.5-litre Turbo D is better still. All diesels return excellent fuel economy figures and they’re generally refined, responsive engines.


The little 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine was perhaps a bit small for the Astra – Vauxhall didn’t enjoy the same magic of engine design as Ford and Volkswagen. But the more recent 1.2-litre turbo is very good, as are the earlier 1.4-litre Ecotec engines.


Because of its popularity amongst company car fleets, there are several Astras that combine sensible exterior styling with decent interior equipment. Our favourite is SRi grade, which blends slightly sportier looks and equipment with still-decent value for money. It makes models such as the fancy Elite versions seem rather overpriced.

What other cars are similar to the Vauxhall Astra?

Although the Vauxhall Astra doesn’t sell in the numbers it once did, it’s still a popular car – and so too are those other family hatch favourites, the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. Away from these mainstays, the array of options is enormous: Peugeot 308, Renault Megane, Seat Leon, Toyota Auris, Hyundai i30, Kia Ceed, Mazda3… even brands such as Nissan attempted to get in on the family hatchback act with the dreary Pulsar – a car long since forgotten.


Premium family hatchbacks also sell well in the UK. Lots of people, it seems, would rather have a basic Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Audi A3 or BMW 1 Series than a more well-stocked Vauxhall Astra.

Learn more

Vauxhall Astra Front Interior

On the inside

Vauxhall Astra Rear Side View

Driving

Vauxhall Astra Right Side View

How much does it cost to run

Vauxhall Astra Rear Side View

Prices, versions and specification