ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: VAUXHALL ASTRA SPORT TOURER
Attractively styled and well thought out, editor DAVID HOOPER, says Vauxhall’s Sport Tourer version of the Astra is certain to be a hit with customers.
THIS is the first Vauxhall Astra I’ve driven since I drove one of the original press cars off the end of the production line and out of the Ellesmere Port factory gates on the press launch for the all-new model before it went on sale in December 2009.
Like the five-door hatchback, the Sport Tourer is designed in Britain and built at the Ellesmere Port plant, in Cheshire. It’s a good car, and unsurprisingly has been selling strongly with around 40,000 of them finding new homes in the UK so far, giving Vauxhall over 12 per cent of the UK market share. However, with an all-new version of its arch rival, the Ford Focus now on sale, battle between the two car-making giants has been resumed with no holds barred.
The estate, or Sport Tourer version of the Astra, as Vauxhall likes to call it, didn’t go on sale at launch, joining the range at the end of November last year.
It’s a handsome looking car and one which I like very much. There are four trim levels from which to choose, ES, Exclusiv, SE and Sri. Petrol engines offered are
1.4i VVT 100PS, 1.6i VVT 115PS, 1.4i Turbo 140PS, while those who prefer diesels can pick from
1.3CDTi 95PS, 1.7CDTi 110PS, 1.7 CDTi 125PS, 2.0CDTi 160PS.
Up front the interior features the same good looks as the hatch models, having adopted the curvy dashboard which integrates the doors into an almost seamless design. It works very well, and gives an air of class originally seen in the Insignia, the Astra’s big sister.
The dash is attractively designed and has plenty of buttons to fiddle with, but it is all quite intuitive and easy to get on with, but it is at the back end of this car where the main story is.
The wheelbase is the same as that of the hatchback at 2,685mm, but its luggage area is 28mm larger and it can swallow an extra 30 litres of kit with the rear seats in place – that’s 500 litres in total.
Folding down the fear seats is a simple operation thanks to Vauxhall’s FlexFold feature, which is an option on some models and standard on others. It allows each section of the 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks to be folded down at the press of a button on the side of the load area, with the seat cushions simultaneously folding forwards. There were no such luxuries on the Exclusiv model I’ve been testing though, but it was hardly a difficult operation. The seat backs still fold down easily, but if you want a completely flat load area, you have to first lift the seat cushions forwards in the traditional way. With the seats folded correctly down, there is a decent load area of 1,550 litres.
I liked the load cover as well. It demonstrates that considerable thought has been put into the Sport Tourer’s design. It drives me mad in some cars when I’m trying to secure the load cover in its slots on either side of the car – you get one in and the other one falls out – you know the game. In the Astra though, it’s much easier, thanks to a two-touch luggage compartment cover which slides upwards in runners located in the inside edge of the boot aperture. Alternatively, it can retract into the cassette if you need access to the full load space.
The 1.6-litre engine in my test car was a smooth and refined unit and the car drove very nicely, but it had to be worked hard to extract the power, which is found at the top end of the rev range. The pay-off is with the fuel consumption, which can exceed 50mpg on the model I’ve been testing.
The new Sports Tourer is a nice looking car, especially in the attractive Fresco blue colour this car featured in. With attractive styling and ample amounts of space, it’s certain to be another strong seller for Vauxhall.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer Exclusiv 1.6T.
VAUXHALL ASTRA RANGE: From ES 1.4 16v (100ps) 5dr (£16,950) to SE 2.0 CDTi 16v Auto 5dr (£24,835).
ENGINE: 1598cc, 115PS four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 5-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 149g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 116mph. 0-62mph in 11.3 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 32.8mpg.
Fuel tank: 56 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 12.
WARRANTY: 100,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.