The Vauxhall Astra regularly threatens the top of the sales charts making it a very common sight on UK roads. With the Astra name dating back to 1980, millions of families have grown up with the family Vauxhall cementing its place as one of the UK's favourite models.
The current UK built Astra has been around since 2009, but thanks to the bold exterior design, which borrows heavily from the Insignia, it still looks fresh. Vauxhall made a major effort to make the Astra more visually appealing than previous iterations and we think that it was a successful exercise, at least on the outside.
Our real quibble is with the interior where the quality of the materials is good but to our eye the design is less than inviting with a selection of fiddly buttons strewn across the dashboard. In ES trim, the dashboard also looks drab with swathes of black plastic; if you upgrade you do at least get a bit of silver trim to brighten things up.
The 1.7 litre turbodiesel engine comes with two power outputs. The 110 ps engine produces 192 lb.ft of torque between 1,700 and 2,500 rpm whilst the more powerful 130 ps unit manages 221 lb.ft between 2,000 - 2,500. Given that both engines have exactly the same official fuel economy we would go for the more powerful option if the budget stretches that far.
The current Vauxhall Astra ecoFLEX is a class act and if you keep the car you get a lifetime warranty (sell it and it reduces to 3 years). It is also comfortable and the exterior looks good. On the negative side, it is relatively expensive, isn't that exciting to drive, and the dashboard layout is fussy. However that hasn't stopped tens of thousands of people buying it every year, so it is worth a look.