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All-new Vauxhall Astra gets digital dash and plug-in hybrid power

Published 13 July 2021

The 2021 Vauxhall Astra has been revealed. The eighth generation of the Astra is the first to be built under the stewardship of Stellantis as such it shares its underpinnings with the likes of the C5 Aircross and Peugeot 3008. Prices are to be confirmed but expect them to kick off from around £22,000 when the car goes on sale later this year.

Vauxhall's excited about the trajectory it's heading under Stellantis' control. It sees a future where it's reincarnated from GM afterthought into modern car builder and it's serious about meeting expectations.

Want proof? A new Corsa, months from production readiness, was scrapped and replaced with a new design based on the Peugeot 208's platform that allows for conventional and electric power – future-proofing the firm's smallest car at a stroke.

It's no surprise to hear that the new Vauxhall Astra – a car that's faced with the unenviable task of taking on models like the Ford FocusVolkswagen GolfSEAT LeonSkoda Octavia and Toyota Corolla – will be offered with two plug-in hybrid options.

2021_Vauxhall _Astra _2

First, though, to the looks. This is a far more striking design than the car it replaces. You get the 'Vauxhall Vizor' nose that we first saw on the new Mokka, which gives the car a piercing front end that's a perfect match for the blistered wheel arches and sharp angles found around its sides.

A talking point is the car's Intelli-Lux Pixel Light headlights that feature 168 separate LEDs and can light up the road around traffic without blinding oncoming drivers. 

There are more cuts and creases to be found around the back, where there is a certain Volkswagen Golf flavour to the LED taillights and spelt out 'A S T R A' badging (although it could just be that familiar vibrant yellow paint). 

The new Astra is only 4mm longer than its predecessor, however, the nifty styling disguises a wheelbase that has been stretched by significantly 13mm thanks to the front wheels being shoved deep into the bumper. That should mean more rear passenger space, Vauxhall hasn't confirmed this but we do know boot space has increased from 370 to 422 litres.

 2021_Vauxhall _Astra _6

We also know that the cabin will look very modern. Analogue dials have been shown the door and in their place you'll find a digital dashboard comprised of two ten-inch screens that can (if you're willing to pay extra for it) be covered by a single piece of glass – Vauxhall calls it Pure Panel. A talking point is the lack of a glare-preventing hood not needed, says the firm, thanks to a shutter-like layer that stops reflections onto the windscreen. 

The result is a cocooning, angular design that's free from visual fuss – even the driver's air vent has been neatly integrated into a black panel that looks like an extension of the infotainment screen. That said, you do get buttons for often-used systems like the air-con.

Talk of a voice activation (VA) system would have us worried were it not for the fact that wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come fitted as standard. So, if the inbuilt VA turns out not to be much cop (likely), you can fall back on the American giants' tried and tested systems.

If that idea leaves you feeling uncomfortable, hopefully the Astra's seats won't. They have been certified by AGR – Germany's 'Campaign for Healthy Backs' – and are said to be the most comfortable you'll find in a family car. They're available with electrical adjustment, lumber support, a massage function and ventilation. As well as the fabric seen in our pics, you can also choose from leather or Alcantara upholstery.

2021_Vauxhall _Astra _3 (1)

Interestingly, the seats also sit 12mm lower than in the old car for a sporty feel. Vauxhall is promising handling that is 'composed as well as dynamic' – the new chassis is 14 per cent more rigid and while the rear suspension is a relatively simple torsion beam setup, this never stopped the old model from being a tidy handler.

Engines will include punchy 1.2-litre three-cylinder PureTech petrols producing either 110 or 130PS, a diesel likely to be a 130PS 1.5-litre four-cylinder BlueHDi unit and two 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol-electric plug-in hybrids producing up to 225PS mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The petrols and diesels come as standard with a six-speed manual with the option of an eight-speed automatic on more powerful models.

There are other reasons to venture onto the options list, however, like a comprehensive suite of autonomous driving aids. The Astra can have as many as five exterior cameras and five radar sensors allowing it to accelerate, steer and brake itself (to a stop if needed) on the motorway and queuing traffic. It can even slow down for bends, detect and adhere to speed limits and pull out automatically on the motorway when you indicate. Other options include a 360-degree bird's-eye view parking camera and a head-up display that projects info on the windscreen.

Like the sound of all that? Then order books for the new Astra open in the autumn with pricing set to be confirmed closer to then.


Engineer Andy    on 15 July 2021

Looks like a cross between the latest KIA Stonic (ok-ish) 208 (nice looking, externally) and the Golf (not, compared to the mk VII). And what is it with so many makes going the (tacky - few look good) 'two-tone' colour scheme?

cfc2000    on 15 July 2021

No mention of the clutch and gearbox. On my Ctroen with the Blue HDI setup it's very heavy and clunky.

paulinuk    on 15 July 2021

Most i can afford for a new car is about £10,000 max ,what chance do i stand getting an electric car and thousands of others, my celerio i bought new was £6500,

conman    on 20 July 2021

Hi Paul I have had a Dacia sandero for 5 years, these new ones are even better and you could get a top of range for under £10,000 I think. just go and have a test drive.

davethesteam    on 15 July 2021

Looks like all the other cars on offer from every other manufacturer.
Take off the badgings, it could be Kia/Hyundai, anything at all from PSA, VAG. I suppose the advertising will try to create an USP for this bag of likeness. Will the electrics be sorted to differentiate it from the unreliable elecctrics of other PSA offerings?

stojom    on 16 July 2021

Still don’t like these small 3 pot turbocharged engines. Reckon they’ll wear out faster.

Lee Power    on 18 July 2021

I know of Purecrap engines outside the recent recall due to there newer build date suffering from failed timing belts.

Generation 4 belt is the current latest one available from your Peugeot / Citroen / Vauxhall parts counter.

Even if the timing belt issue gets fixed, the intake valves still coke up with carbon thanks to direct injection.

Richard M Russell    on 17 July 2021

Agree re 3 pot ..mine had a recall related to the timing belt as some have been failing I believe. Also agree with the comment about the clunky manual gearboxes on some Peugeots. On the other hand I love my 6 speed auto 3 pot which has done about 35k troublefree so far...this is the 308 Puretech SW

Lee Power    on 18 July 2021

My 2016 Purecrap 130 powered 308 got to 34k miles before requiring the inlet valves to be cleaned of carbon.

Bloke I work with has a 2017 Purecrap 130 powered 308 that was built after the recent timing belt recall cut off date - he has just had to have the timing belt replaced due to the oil pick up being blocked by timing belt debris - car has 45k miles on with full Peugeot main dealer service history.

Mechanic friend of mine has just had to replace the timing belt on his wife's late 2016 built Purecrap 110 powered 208 - belt was starting to fail at 40k miles. That's where we found out about the 4th generation belt now available from main dealers.

conman    on 20 July 2021

Seems all the manufacturers want you to do is buy on PCP terms that way they get the full overpriced asking price and after 3 years you do not have a car despite paying a small fortune. All because you want to keep up with the neighbours new PCP car.

hissingsid    on 22 July 2021

Digital dashboard = Digital disaster once out of warranty.

Yes Dacias are a sensible buy, but according to the Press Release the long awaited Duster Automatic will only be available with the diesel engine. Given that diesel car sales are in freefall, this seems an illogical decision.

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