Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer review

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These days, the Vauxhall Astra is vastly better than its reputation might suggest, good enough, in fact, to have been named European Car of the Year.

The hatchback version is decently spacious, but for those needing more room Vauxhall also offers this estate model called the "Sports Tourer". It is available with the same petrol and diesel engines as the hatchback and serves as a rival to estate versions of the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic.

We rate the Astra Sports Tourer so highly that it was named Best Estate Car in the 2016 Telegraph Cars Awards.

Lease a Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer with Telegraph Cars

Read our long-term test of the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer here.

Space 9/10

Lots of room for passengers, and a big boot

Passengers enjoy the same amount of space in the Astra Sports Tourer as they do in the hatch, which means more leg room in the rear than you'll find in a VW Golf, if not quite as much storage. Two adults or three children will fit comfortably in the rear seats.

Where the Sports Tourer gains an advantage is of course the boot. Compared with the hatchback the loading area is not only taller but also considerably longer, which any parents with buggies or travel cots to transport, or anybody with a dog, will appreciate.

Total load volume isn't quite as good as the Peugeot 308 SW or Civic Tourer, but the square opening and flat loading lip add to its practical nature (as does the underfloor storage and useful hooks and nets). The Astra's rear seats do fold completely flat, although unlike many rivals there aren't additional levers in the boot to operate them.

Comfort 8/10

No sports suspension to worry about

Whereas previous Astra Sports Tourers came with a choice of standard or sports suspension, the new version sticks with one setup, so it's only opting for larger wheels that adds any kind of firmness to the ride, and even then it's perfectly acceptable.

The seats are firm but supportive, plus there’s plenty of adjustment to help you find a good driving position.

All Astras let in some road noise, but the turbocharged petrol engines and the 1.6-lire diesel are impressively smooth and hushed. In fact, it's only the entry-level 1.4-litre petrol that we'd avoid. 

One thing to note is that the parking sensors are particularly vocal, activating anytime you are stationary and something crosses your path, even if you're just stopped in traffic.

Dashboard layout 8/10

Good touchscreen and generally feels well built

While it's still not quite up to VW Golf standards of dash design, the latest Astra is much better than its predecessors in this regards. In the middle of the dash is a large touchscreen with logical controls that include a row of physical shortcut buttons for the most important functions. 

The heater controls are equally clear and the dials are easy to read. Our only gripe is that some of the plastics, including the gloss black parts, feel a bit cheap when prodded.

Easy to drive 8/10

Light controls, but brakes can be too sensitive

Most of the engines in the Astra are strong enough to make life easy in terms of keeping up with traffic and overtaking, and the controls are generally light, although the brakes can feel a bit too sensitive. 

The manual gearbox is smooth enough to shift but has rather a long throw between gears so doesn't like to be rushed. If you want an automatic you are restricted to the most powerful (and expensive) versions of the turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine or 1.6 diesel.

Over-the-shoulder visibility is a bit tricky, and the Sports Tourer does feel longer than an Astra hatchback when parking. But Vauxhall has at least improved the view around the windscreen pillars, which caused a problem in the previous model. 

Fun to drive 6/10

Not particularly exciting in most forms

If the 'Sports' in its name made you think this estate would be a zinger to drive, prepare to be disappointed. The truth is, it’s best to look elsewhere if excitement behind the wheel is your aim.

True, the new Astra handles well enough, but if it's fun you're after than a Ford Focus, Mazda 3, or VW Golf are all better bets.

It's not outright speed that's missing, for some Astras are quick enough to entertain, but the steering feels springy and artificially weighted, particularly in its heavier "sport" mode (as fitted to SRi models), which also makes the throttle pedal deliver maximum performance even when you only use half of its travel.

Grip levels are good, and the Astra changes direction keenly enough, but it all feels a bit remote.

Reliability   7/10

Decent reputation, but a mediocre warranty

It’s a shame the Astra comes with a warranty that’s limited to just three years and 60,000 miles. True, many of its rivals come with a similar level of cover, but Kia and Hyundai offer 7- and 5-year warranties respectively on their Cee'd and i30.

While the new Astra is too new to have been included in reliability studies, Vauxhall finished 9thout of 26 manufacturers in JD Power’s UK dependability survey – not quite as good as Kia or Nissan, but better than Peugeot, Ford, Citroën, Fiat and Honda.  

Fuel economy 8/10

Few rivals are significantly more efficient

The most efficient diesel Astra Sports Tourer managed more than 80mpg in EU fuel economy tests, placing it just behind the VW Golf Bluemotion. In the real world diesel models comfortably return in excess of 55mpg, giving a useful range of about 600 miles from one tank of fuel.

The petrol versions of the Astra obviously aren’t as frugal as the diesels, but they largely compete like-for-like with the petrol engines in key rivals, with the 1.0-litre managing 67mpg in official fuel tests.

Affordability 8/10

Competitively priced, but it doesn’t hold its value that well

The Astra Sports Tourer is priced close to its arch rival, the Ford Focus Estate, and as with the Focus you should be able to haggle a discount from your local dealer.

Even with these discounts and the Astra's competitive CO2 emissions, though, it could prove more expensive than a Seat Leon or VW Golf in the long run because it will be worth less on the second-hand market.

At least insurance costs will be sensible and Vauxhall’s MasterFit service centres offer fixed- price servicing.

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Safety 9/10

The hatchback model performed well in crash tests

The Astra hatchback on which the Sports Tourer is based scored five out of five stats in Euro NCAP's industry standard crash tests, despite not scoring as highly as the VW Golf for occupant protection.

All models have front and side airbags, but if you want all of the latest active safety devices you have to either opt for a higher-spec model or specify them as part of the Driving Assistance Pack. This includes lane departure warning and an automatic braking system that can slow and even stop the car if it senses you are about to collide with another vehicle.

A stability control system that helps you stay in control in treacherous conditions is standard on all Astras. 

Standard spec 7/10

All models are pretty well equipped

Air-conditioning, a touchscreen (including Apple CarPlay), DAB radio and cruise control are standard across the Astra range, including the entry-level Design model. 

Tech-Line adds satnav, a centre arm rest and leather-covered steering wheel, while SRi includes 17-inch wheels to replace the standard 16-inch items, a sports switch and the full range of active safety features.

Our favourite version  

1.6 CDTi 110 Ecoflex Tech Line, list price £19,635

Options you should add Metallic paint (£545) and Driving Assistance Pack One including automatic low-speed braking (£795)

The verdict 8/10

Vauxhall has put in a strong performance with the latest Astra Sports Tourer, which retains all the best bits of the hatchback, such as the comfortable ride and smooth engines, and throws in useful extra space. It's a solid performer. 

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