Vauxhall Astra (2015) Review

Vauxhall Astra (2015) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
Although it can’t match the Ford Focus in terms of driver appeal, or the Volkswagen Golf in terms of comfort and quality, the Vauxhall Astra deserves more than to be labelled an also-ran.

+Solid all-rounder that’s good in all areas, cheap to run, excellent value as a used car and loads around, five star Euro NCAP rating.

-Heavy depreciation, dull styling and humdrum image, cabin lacks any design flair.

Insurance Groups are between 11–22
On average it achieves 79% of the official MPG figure

Look beyond the understated styling and you’ll find a surprisingly upmarket cabin, a generous level of standard equipment, efficient engines and some seriously tempting prices. It’s even better if you opt for a post-2019 facelift Astra. Put simply, you’ll get a lot of car for the money if you buy a Vauxhall Astra.

Appearances can be deceptive. The current Vauxhall Astra, introduced in 2015, might look similar to its predecessor, but there were big changes beneath the skin. Improvements across the board mean that the Astra is closer than ever to the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, two cars that dominate the sales charts in the UK. Maybe it’s time to take a second look at the Astra.

Indeed, a subtle facelift in 2019 means that it’s better than ever. Good driving manners, a new range of engines and improved technology are just three of the reasons why a new Astra is such a compelling and credible choice. The 2015 car was good, but the new version is even better, thanks in part to input from Vauxhall’s new French owners.

The styling isn’t a highlight. Although design is a subjective matter, the Astra does little more than blend in with its surroundings. It also looks a little lacklustre when parked alongside one of the many crossovers and SUVs that are fashionable in 2020.

It’s a similar story inside. The cabin offers little in the way of flair and imagination, although the design is simple and modern. There’s a clear and logical layout to the dashboard and instruments, while the quality is high for a volume manufacturer. Highlights include excellent seats, a user-friendly design and a soft red glow from the buttons at night.

Practicality is good, especially if you opt for the Sport Tourer (estate). There’s also a fair amount of room in the cabin, although headroom in the back is a little tight, but less so in the Sport Tourer. Equipment levels are good, even on the entry-level version. Opt for Elite Nav or Ultimate versions for premium levels of kit at an affordable price.

That said, be wary of depreciation. The Vauxhall Astra is quick to shed its value, particularly in the early years, which means buying used is better than buying new. Indeed, the Astra is a used car bargain – an undiscovered gem of the second-hand market.

The driving experience is nothing to write home about, but to continue a theme, it’s better than you might think.

Although it lacks the precision of the Ford Focus, it’s an immensely satisfying car to drive. It’s also a little more mature than the Focus, making it feel like a cut-price Volkswagen Golf. For long distance driving, the Astra is hard to beat, especially if you opt for a diesel engine.

Don’t rule out the petrol engines, especially since the 2019 facelift. The 1.2-litre turbo, which is offered in three power outputs, is a little gem. A terrific blend of punchy performance and efficiency makes it a worthy alternative to the diesel engines.

In case you hadn’t noticed, we rather like the Vauxhall Astra. It’s dowdy image is a problem for other people, which leaves you free to discover one of the most underrated cars of 2020. Don’t be too disappointed if you’re handed the keys to an Astra when you book your next rental car.

Ask Honest John

Why is my Vauxhall Astra going into limp home mode?
"I own a 2017 Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTI SRI NAV. The engine light is on and going in limp mode. It shows codes: P2453, P2452, P244A, P226D. Can you tell me what is wrong with my car? "
Reads like issues with the diesel particulate filter (DPF). If a good run at motorway speeds doesn't help, you'll need to get it looked at by a garage. This will help you find one:
Answered by Andrew Brady
How often should I use the aircon in my car?
"How often should I use the aircon in my car? I read blogs and they say it should be used all time. I have a 2016 Vauxhall Astra."
All the time. The car's ventilation system is designed to operate with the air-con switched on 100% of the time. Switching off the air-con for long periods will result in the joints drying out and the refrigerant gas escaping. You will also risk compressor seizing up.
Answered by Georgia Petrie
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
What's the best automatic for covering 20,000 motorway miles a year?
"What medium-sized automatic would you recommend for motorway driving, up to 20k miles per year. I had a Mazda 3 1.5 petrol but it was thirsty. I'm looking for something less with a budget of £8k-£10k. "
A Kia Cee'd would be a good option. The 1.6 CRDi auto is reliable and efficient, and your budget will get a 2016 model which will still have some of its manufacturer warranty remaining. Also consider the very similar Hyundai i30 with the same engine or a Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi.
Answered by Andrew Brady

What does a Vauxhall Astra (2015) cost?

Buy new from £20,310 (list price from £20,610)