Review: Vauxhall Astra (2015)

Rating:

More spacious than previous Astra. Originally available with decent 1.0 Ecotec petrol. Five star Euro NCAP rating. Good ride comfort.

Doesn't move things on significantly from the old model.

Vauxhall Astra (2015): At A Glance

You'd be forgiven for thinking that this Vauxhall Astra was merely a heavily revamped version of its predecessor so similar are the two in design. But this is more than just a nip and tuck.

It is in fact fresh out the box and based on a new platform. So, while it may not stray from the path in terms of looks, there are big changes elsewhere.

Most notably inside. The interior has been completely redesigned with a much neater layout and far fewer buttons. So the cluttered and button-heavy dash has gone to be replaced by a much easier to navigate design. The quality of the central touchscreen display is much improved and all the controls have a more solid feel to them.

In fact, the overall quality of the Astra is much improved, as it needed to be given the below par finish of the old model. Only the fiddly ventilation and air conditioning controls let it down. Some of the plastics could be better too, but these are only very small criticisms of what is a very comfortable and well put together cabin.

Comfort is certainly what the Astra does well: the ride quality is very good and at motorway speeds there's little road or wind noise, making it a relaxed car for long journeys in. What's not so good is the steering. While the Astra is accomplished in corners with good grip, the steering lacks feel and doesn't give you much in the way of confidence. It means the Astra isn't as good to drive as other hatchbacks.

That said, the Astra is primarily aimed at company car drivers and for those, running costs are more of a priority. Which is why Vauxhall has worked to improve fuel economy. A big part of this is weight reduction, which is as much as 200kg - the same as two rugby players - on some models, thanks to a lighter body shell.

Opt for the impressive 1.6 CDTi diesel - which the vast majority of Astra owners do - and the official figures say you'll be seeing 91.1mpg with CO2 of 81g/km. That's for the 1.6 CDTi 110PS ecoFLEX model, but if you want a bit more poke, the same 1.6 CDTi comes with 136PS or there's a top of the range 160PS BiTurbo model.

If you don't cover long distances then the petrol engines will suit you perfectly. The best is the new 1.0 Ecotec. This three-cylinder may at first glance seem too small for a car like the Astra but with a turbocharger boosting power to 105PS it has plenty of get up and go while still averaging a claimed 67.3mpg.   

The 2015 Astra was certainly much improved compared to the car it replaces, especially when it comes to the interior, while comfort levels are impressive. It's not exactly ground-breaking and doesn't move the game along, but it still has plenty of appeal and is offered at a very affordable price, which makes it very good value too.

What does a Vauxhall Astra (2015) cost?

List Price from £18,925
Buy new from £14,995
Contract hire from £162.05 per month

Vauxhall Astra (2015): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4370 mm
Width 2042–2402 mm
Height 1485 mm
Wheelbase 2662 mm

Full specifications

Inside, the new Astra is a real step up from the old car. The centre console is neatly arranged, with a much more logical button layout and a very responsive touchscreen system. Only the rather fiddly air conditioning controls let it down while storage could be better too. 

One oddity is the panel on the centre console which would appear an ashtray style compartment but is in fact just a blank panel.

The instrument binnacle is clear though, the steering wheel is smaller and nicer to hold and even the indicator stalks have been changed – about time too, since Vauxhall seems to have been using the same ones since the last century.

It’s not quite as plush or neat as the Golf, with a few slightly less impressive plastics used lower down in the cabin, but overall the it feels like a much better-made car than any Astra before. It’s spacious, too, with enough room for adults in the back row, although a rising window line will obscure visibility out of the car for smaller children.

Vauxhall has simplified its trim structure for the new Astra, with four grades to choose from. Prices are lower across the board, yet there is a good range of equipment.

Basic models get alloy wheels, air-conditioning and a seven-inch touchscreen, along with Bluetooth, USB connectivity and cruise control. Higher trim levels benefit from safety tech like lane keep assistance and front collision warning.

Perhaps the most important bit of technology is OnStar, available in SRi trims or higher. It provides a mobile WiFi hotspot and a one-touch phone link to a real person. That means owners can request help, whether in an emergency or just when they need to find a local coffee shop.

Vauxhall can even send the GPS route to the car for you directly, as well as check service status and various other details. There’s so much it can do we’ve written about it separately – click here for more information.

The boot is large at 370 litres, but it doesn’t have a flat load deck. For shopping trips that won’t be an issue, but the high load lip will make life difficult if you plan on hauling heavy, bulky items around. Folding the rear seats frees up a total of 1210 litres, but, again, the shape and load lip make the load area slightly less practical than it could be.

Standard equipment:

Design comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, six airbags, air conditioning, R4.0 IntelliLink audio system with digital radio, 7-inch colour touchscreen, USB & aux in, Bluetooth, multi-function trip computer, cruise control and steering wheel controls, electrically operated front and rear windows.

Tech Line adds a Navi 900 satellite navigation system with 8 inch colour touchscreen, leather steering wheel and adjustable front armrest.

Energy comes with 17-inch 10 spoke alloy wheels, heated front seats and heated leather steering wheel

SRi gets 17-inch five twin-spoke alloy wheels, the Driving Assistance Pack (Front Camera System, Traffic Sign Assistant, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Following Distance Indication, Forward Collision Alert with Collision Imminent Braking), OnStar, Sight & Light Pack, sports seats, sports switch, leather steering wheel and front foglights.

SRi Nav adds the Navi 900 satellite navigation system with 8 inch colour touchscreen.

Elite comes with 17-inch multi spoke alloy wheels, leather ergonomic sports front seats with extendable seat cushions, tilt and four-way electrical adjustment, a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear outer seats, OnStar, Sight & Light Pack, electronic climate control, front foglights, electrically foldable door mirrors and two USB chargers for rear seat passengers

Elite Nav adds the Navi 900 satellite navigation system with 8 inch colour touchscreen. 

Child seats that fit a Vauxhall Astra (2015)

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 (2015) like to drive?

With the majority of Astra models being chosen as company cars, it's no surprise that the 1.6 CDTi diesel is the most popular engine choice. The 'whisper diesel' - as Vauxhall christened it - is a great engine and extremely quiet, even at higher revs. In fact, it's one of the best 1.6-litre diesels on the market and is packed with lots of low-level torque.

There were originally three different versions but it's the ecoFLEX model with 110PS that's the most economical returning a mightily impressive 91.1mpg with CO2 of just 82g/km according to the claimed figures. Of course whether you see that in real world driving is another matter. Real MPG would suggest otherwise but even if you're seeing 75 per cent of that figure, it's still easy on fuel.

The standard 136PS version of the Renault derived 1.6 CDTi is the one we'd recommend: it's got a bit more zest than the ecoFLEX and doesn't need to be worked as hard. With 320Nm, it will happily deal with overtaking slow moving traffic and it's still efficient with a claimed 76.3mpg. Alongside the standard six-speed manual, this engine is also available with a six-speed automatic gearbox. However, if you want the top 1.6 CDTi diesel with 160PS it only comes in Elite and SRi trims.

Buying second-hand, if you aren't covering long distances or tend to do lots of short journeys, then a diesel is best avoided. Fortunately the petrol engines in the Astra range are very good. The standard 1.4-litre petrol in the entry-level models is a adequate, if nothing special, so we'd suggest going for the excellent 1.0 Ecotec engine. 

It may seem far too small for a car like the Astra, but it's actually a perfect fit with real get up and go thanks to the fact it's turbocharged. The 105PS may not seem very much on paper, but as the Astra is relatively light, it zips along very nicely. It's very smooth for a three-cylinder engine and although it only has a five-speed gearbox, it's still economical with a claimed 67.3mpg.

For more power, there was a 1.4 Ecotec in two versions - one with 125PS and a 150PS model. It's a flexible engine, with enough low down grunt and reasonable economy. The performance model in the Astra range (aside from the VXR) is the 1.6 Ecotec that develops 200PS and covers 0-62mph in just 7.3 seconds thanks to peak torque of 300Nm.

This Astra is far more comfortable to drive than the Astra J. The suspension does a better job over poor road surfaces and there's much less vibration transferred into the cabin. What lets it down somewhat is the steering. While the Astra corners well with decent grip, the steering feels very artificial so it's hard to gauge what's happening underneath you.   

On the plus side, it's very good on the motorway thanks to impressive soundproofing and supportive seats, while in town the Astra is easy to park.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.0 Turbo 59–60 mpg 11.2 s 102–104 g/km
1.0i ecoFLEX 59–64 mpg 11.2 s 99–102 g/km
1.0i ecoFLEX Easytronic 64 mpg 12.7 s 96 g/km
1.4 100 51–52 mpg 12.3 s 124–128 g/km
1.4 Turbo 125 49–52 mpg 9.2 s 124–128 g/km
1.4 Turbo 150 47–51 mpg 8.3–9.0 s 124–138 g/km
1.4 Turbo 150 Automatic 46–52 mpg 9.0 s 125–139 g/km
1.6 CDTi 110 67–86 mpg 11.0–12.5 s 88–110 g/km
1.6 CDTi 110 ecoFLEX 83–86 mpg 12.5 s 82–85 g/km
1.6 CDTi 136 61–74 mpg 9.6 s 99–121 g/km
1.6 CDTi 136 Automatic 59–64 mpg 9.7 s 115–130 g/km
1.6 CDTi 150 57–58 mpg - 126 g/km
1.6 CDTi 160 69 mpg 8.5 s 108–109 g/km
1.6 Turbo 200 43–46 mpg 7.8 s 141–146 g/km

Real MPG average for a Vauxhall Astra (2015)

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

78%

Real MPG

30–72 mpg

MPGs submitted

487

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 (2015)?

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

Best used family car for £7000?

Can you recommend a petrol used car (circa £7000) that has low running costs but is large enough to fit two child seats in the back plus a double stroller in the boot?
How about a Dacia Logan? It's a budget offering but that means you'll get a relatively modern one with your budget. It's a practical estate with low running costs and £7000 will get you a 2017 example. Alternatively, consider a Vauxhall Astra estate.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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