Review: Vauxhall Astra (2004 – 2009)

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Sharp looks, comfortable motorway cruiser, responsive and economical engines, durable interior materials, lots on the second hand market.

Drab and poorly laid out dash, awkward to access boot, failed waterpump can throw off the timing belt on 1.9 CDTI models after just 40k miles, premature wear on front suspension bushes.

Vauxhall Astra (2004 – 2009): At A Glance

The Vauxhall Astra may be a common sight but with good reason. This Astra is a competent family hatchback that's well built and neatly designed. There are flaws with the cabin and the awkward boot is a bit of a let down, but it's cheap to buy and good value for money.

In fact, it's easy to forget how revolutionary the fourth generation Vauxhall Astra was when it was first launched in early 2004. Compared to its predecessor it was a huge step up in quality, design and refinement. And like the previous car it proved hugely popular - as a result the secind hand market is awash with them.

It's such a common sight that the Vauxhall Astra doesn't really stand out anymore but spare a few minutes to take a good look and you'll see that it's actually a decent looking car. There's some nice detailing such as the teardrop rear lights, shapely tailgate and flared arches.

The cabin isn't as successful and the slabby design hasn't aged particularly well, while the controls are poorly laid out, but the build quality is good and it feels robust. There's a wide choice of engines too with the CDTi diesels our favourite, while the powerful turbocharged petrols are enjoyable and quick.

Vauxhall Astra SRI 170 2004 Road Test

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What does a Vauxhall Astra (2004 – 2009) cost?

List Price from £19,085
Buy new from £16,518
Contract hire from £162.05 per month

Vauxhall Astra (2004 – 2009): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4249–4419 mm
Width 1753–1814 mm
Height 1415–1510 mm
Wheelbase 2614–2685 mm

Full specifications

The cabin is quite cramped and although the quality feels good, it lacks stowage while the layout is ergonomically flawed. The air vents are placed at the top of the centre console, which means that the stereo and ventilation switches are located low down, plus the air conditioning control is confusing.

The materials are of good quality though. The dash top plastics, well dampened dials and solid feeling doors all help give it a solid feel missing from some other cars of this size.

It's a shame then that despite the decent 350-litre boot capacity the load space itself seems small, not helped by the high boot lip and intrusive rear lights. Passenger's get well catered for though, with decent leg and head room in the back.

The one touch indicators can be a bone of contention among owners who seem to either love them or hate them, but they do at least add an upmarket edge to the Vauxhall Astra and the stalks themselves look stylish. They do take some getting used however and most people seem to prefer standard controls.

Child seats that fit a Vauxhall Astra (2004 – 2009)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Vauxhall Astra (2004 – 2009) like to drive?

The Astra is a good drive. There's a multi-adjustable seat and steering wheel which means a comfortable position for just about anyone, plus forward visibility is good. The seats offer plenty of support for longer journeys although they could be slightly softer.

In fact the Astra isn't always a great motorway cruiser. Tyre roar and wind noise are both intrusive at higher speeds and it doesn't feel as relaxed as alternatives like the Ford Focus. The ride is quite fidgety too and at low speeds, uneven road surfaces are quite noticeable - the Vauxhall certainly has a firm suspension set-up.

But the trade off is good body control through bends and a composed nature on country lanes. There are faults though - the steering is well weighted but lacks feedback and suffers from kickback in corners. This means that although it's capable it's not as agile as it could be. More powerful petrol turbo models suffer from the inevitable tugging at the wheel as the traction control system trys to put the power down.

Pressing the Sport button has the effect of sharpening the car's responses as it's supposed to. It immediately feels sharper and more eager, but, of course, the ride suffers, so that's something best for back-roads.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.3 CDTi 90 58 mpg - 130 g/km
1.4 100 51 mpg - 129 g/km
1.4 16V 46 mpg - 146 g/km
1.6 45 mpg - 147 g/km
1.6 16V 44–45 mpg - 151–155 g/km
1.6 16V Turbo 37 mpg - 185 g/km
1.6 Easytronic 45 mpg - 151 g/km
1.7 CDTi 55–60 mpg - 124–138 g/km
1.7 CDTi ecoFLEX 63 mpg - 119 g/km
1.8 16V 37–42 mpg - 159–184 g/km
1.8 Automatic 37–40 mpg - 166–184 g/km
1.9 CDTi 120 41–50 mpg - 149–186 g/km
1.9 CDTi 120 Automatic 41 mpg - 186 g/km
1.9 CDTi 16V 150 50 mpg - 149 g/km
2.0 16V 31 mpg - 216 g/km
VXR 2.0 Turbo 31 mpg - 221 g/km

Real MPG average for a Vauxhall Astra (2004 – 2009)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

23–62 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Vauxhall Astra (2004 – 2009)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Does mileage have an effect on the value of written off cars?

I own a 2003 Vauxhall Astra. It's silver, manual with a mileage of 160,000. It;s just been written off and I need to agree its value with the insurers. I've noted a number of comparables for sale around £1000, but mileages with much lower mileages. Am I right to contend that for a car of this age, the mileage is not significant in valuing the vehicle? Does colour and number of owners affect the value?
If your vehicle was brand new a colour option could have an affect on value, but on a vehicle of this age it wouldn't. Your car is worth around £500. The guides that insurers use will take mileage into consideration up to 150,000 miles. After that, the affect of mileage on value reduces. If you are being offered more than that, they are being very fair with you.
Answered by Tim Kelly
More Questions

What Cars Are Similar To The Vauxhall Astra (2004 – 2009)?

Key attributes of the this model are: Economical and Small family.

Unclear on what your next car should be? Use our Car Chooser to pick something that suits your needs.

What do owners think?

Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.

  • 5 star 33%
  • 4 star
  • 3 star 33%
  • 2 star 33%
  • 1 star

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