- Easy to drive
- Wide range of power options
- Good front cabin space
- Small boot
- Interior build disappointing
- Ford Focus has sharper drive
The Vauxhall Astra is a stalwart of the family car sector, but this latest generation is not interested in just making up the numbers. It’s been styled to give the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf a serious run for their money, as well as mix it with the Peugeot 308 that it shares a lot of its mechanical parts with. This is an Astra that means business, for both company drivers and private owners alike.
As you’d expect with Vauxhall, the prices of the Astra have been pitched low and hard against rivals. It means choosing the Astra will be a simple, obvious choice for anyone who is swapping from one of the Griffin’s products anyway. However, it also makes the Astra an alluring prospect for those more used to the Vauxhall’s rivals, especially as the Astra is now one of the best cars in the sector to drive, as well as being very well equipped in all of its trim levels.
The front cabin provides ample room for driver and passenger, and the back seats are ideal for kids. Look in the boot and it’s not as big as some, but it will still handle holiday luggage Whichever model you choose, the Astra comes with a 10-inch infotainment touchscreen and matching digital instrument cluster, plus front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control. It adds up to a car that feels a touch more luxurious than its rivals in these value-conscious times.
The fit and finish of the Vauxhall’s cabin is not quite up to the same standards as a VW Golf, but few will complain when they feel the way the Astra drives. There’s a broad range of petrol, diesel, and hybrid engines from launch and an EV model will give buyers even more choice. The Astra e-Hybrid can travel up to 43 miles on a single charge, so it answers the needs of many commuters.
Infotainment, comfort and practicality
Vauxhall has come up with one of the cleanest, uncluttered cabins of any car in this sector for the Astra. It gives the car a smart, modern look without being overwhelmingly high-tech in appearance. Crucial to this style are the matching 10-inch main instrument cluster and infotainment screen. With the main dials, all of the relevant information is presented on a digital screen, which can be configured to some extent using the steering wheel buttons. The steering wheel itself moves for height and reach, and it combines with driver’s seat height adjustment to offer an excellent seating position no what size you are. There’s also lots of room for the front passengers heads and elbows, plus the driver enjoys good all-round vision. This is augmented by front and rear parking sensors on all versions of the Astra.
The 10-inch infotainment screen is neatly incorporated into the Astra’s dash design, so it doesn’t look like an afterthought in the way some of its rivals can. The graphics are clear and simple to read, even if they are not quite as sharp as those in a Skoda Octavia. However, the Vauxhall compensates with the ease in which you can pair your smartphone with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and with its voice activation that’s triggered by saying ‘hey, Vauxhall’. Using this function, you can operate many of the core systems like cabin temperature, stereo, and phone calls while keeping your hands on the wheel. Despite this, Vauxhall still fit physical buttons to work the climate control, and they are to be commended for this as it’s the quickest and easiest way to use it.
In the back seats, the look remains clean and simple, but the Astra doesn’t dish up as much room for those in the rear as a Ford Focus or Skoda Octavia. Adults will find it acceptable rather than generous, but kids will have no bother getting comfy. There are Isofix child seat mounts on bother outer rear seats and the door open wide to give good access when strapping in your offspring.
Head round the to the rear of the Astra and the boot opening is not as wide or tall as some of the others in this class. It means loading bigger items requires some jiggling, and there’s a drop from load sill to boot floor that makes wrestling heavy items out of the boot more of a struggle than it should be. The boot itself provides 367-litres of capacity, which is average for the class, but the hybrid models drop to 305-litres due to the battery infringing on cargo room. On the plus side, Vauxhall uses 40-20-40 split and topple back seat to give decent versatility that frees up a total of 1339-litres in the Astra hatch. The Sports Tourer estate can handle anything from 597-litres up to a maximum of 1634-litres.
2022 Vauxhall Astra engines: how does it drive?
Vauxhall has worked hard to bring a bit more vivacity to the way the Astra drives compared to previous generations. It’s worked, to some extent, but don’t expect the Astra to deliver the same levels of fun or nimbleness as a Ford Focus. The Astra is more in the mould of the Kia Ceed in that it looks to perform competently in all areas rather than excel in any particular way. For many drivers, this will be just the right mix of comfort, handling, refinement, and performance they need.
Across any surface, the Astra copes well and absorbs all but the biggest pothole shocks with calm efficiency. Higher trim levels with larger wheels fair slightly worse, and the weight of the battery in the hybrid models tells as the suspension feels firmer to cope with this heft. Even so, they are not uncomfortable or crashy, it’s just you are aware of an underlying firmness that isn’t there in the petrol or diesel models. As for refinement, there are no such issues with any Astra model as it does a splendid job of filtering out road, wind, and engine noise from the cabin at all speeds and on all surfaces.
On the motorway, the Astra is unflustered by crosswinds or when passing large trucks, so it’s a good bet for long trips. Around town, there’s good all-round vision for the driver, which makes it easy to switch lanes and park, and it’s helped by all-round parking sensors on all models. There isn’t a lot of sensation in the steering, which most drivers won’t notice, but keener drivers will feel the Astra is not as much fun on country roads as a Focus or SEAT Leon.
Vauxhall has always been good at offering a good selection of engines in its cars and this Astra is no exception. You can have straightforward petrol or diesel engines, with the latter reflecting this car’s enduring popularity with company drivers. The 1.2 Turbo petrol motor is offered in 110- and 130hp forms, and the more powerful version is also available with an automatic gearbox in place of the normal six-speed manual transmission. This three-cylinder motor is very likeable and easy to live with, though it can be a little noisy at the upper reaches of its rev band. Choose the 1.5-litre diesel and it delivers 130hp either through manual or auto gearboxes. It’s easy on fuel and will have appeal to anyone covering large mileages, but it is less of a mainstay than this type of engine used to be.
What is a core offering in the Astra is Plug-In Hybrid-e model. It uses a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and electric motor to give a combined 180hp. Not only does this deliver brisk performance off the mark, it pulls well whenever you need to accelerate, such as joining the motor from a slip road. On battery power alone, the Hybrid-e can cover up to 43 miles on a full charge, which is similar to a plug-in SEAT Leon.
Value for money: how much does a 2022 Vauxhall Astra cost to buy and run?
Vauxhall has gone for a simpler approach to trim levels with this Astra than previous generations. As a consequence, there are three model lines to pick from, starting with the Design that comes with alloy wheels, keyless ignition, electric windows all-round, and cruise control. You also get parking sensors front and rear, a host of safety kit, 10-inch dash display and infotainment touchscreen, voice recognition and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The GS Line adds bigger 17-inch alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, and keyless entry. Opt for the Ultimate and you get adaptive LED headlights, two extra stereo speakers, wireless mobile phone charging, heated steering wheel, and Alcantara upholstery. The Hybrid-e models only come in the upper two trim levels.
Prices for the Astra Hybrid-e start at £32,700 for the GS Line hatch and £35,815 for the Ultimate, while the Sport Tourer only comes in GS Line trim from £33,900. The cheapest Astra is the 1.2 Turbo 110 Design that costs from £24,315, while the more powerful 130 version adds £600 to the price and is worth the extra. A diesel Design starts at £25,915. Move to the GS Line and the 1.2 Turbo begins at £27,210 and the diesel from £28,210, while the Ultimate will cost you from ££30,325 for the petrol and £31,325 for the diesel. Shopping around for a new Astra is a worthwhile exercise as you should be able to chip off as much as £2000 from the list price, depending on which model you choose.
Running an Astra won’t stretch your finances too far as the petrol can manage 51.4mpg combined economy and 123g/km of carbon dioxide emissions for both the 110- and 130hp models. The diesel can deliver up an average of 65.7mpg and 114g/km, but that’s overshadowed by the Hybrid-e model’s 256mpg and 24g/km CO2 output. The Hybrid-e sits in insurance groups between 26 and 28, while the other models reside in groups 16 to 21 depending on trim level.
Verdict: Should I buy a 2022 Vauxhall Astra?
The Vauxhall Astra is a very easy car to live with and has much to recommend it when comparing this car to its rivals on paper. Its cost-effectiveness comes across strong, especially when you look at the economy and emissions of the Hybrid-e model if you’re a company car driver. On the road, the Astra is a little less convincing as the Ford Focus and SEAT Leon offer a keener drive, while the Skoda Octavia outguns the Vauxhall for cabin and boot space.
If outright carrying capacity are not top of your priority list, the Astra should be on your shopping shortlist as the interior is cleanly styled. The infotainment is easier to operate than most and the 10-inch screen is bigger than almost all of its rivals. Rear seat space isn’t the best, and nor is boot size, but the Astra remains a practical, good value family hatch.
What could I buy instead of a 2022 Vauxhall Astra?
The Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus have been locked in battle for many years now, and each has its strengths. Among the Ford’s key plus points are the way it drives, with the Ford leading the sector for its superb ride and handling balance. This makes it agile on back roads, while also helping with stability on the motorway and ease of parking in town. The cabin is well made and offers decent room for all plus luggage, but quality is not as good as some, which is a trait the Ford shares with its Vauxhall competitor.
Kia has been building cars that are great value for so long that it’s ingrained into the company’s DNA, and the Ceed is a superb example of this. For less than it costs to buy a Vauxhall Astra, you can have a car with top drawer build quality, cabin space and comfort, and a long list of standard equipment in all trim versions. Kia also provides is now-famous seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty too. Downsides? Well, the Ceed is not the most exciting car to drive and it picks up on too many surface imperfections to unseat the Astra as the better car to drive.
The allure of a Mercedes badge will be very strong for many buyers and the German firm has managed to pitch the A-Class perfectly in the family hatch sector. It’s a touch more expensive than many of its mainstream rivals, but not so much as to put off many drivers. For that added cost, they get the badge and a cabin that looks and feels very high grade. Space is decent front and back, and in the boot, and the A-Class is good to drive. It also comes with a good voice-activated infotainment set-up similar to the Astra’s.