The humble Vauxhall Astra, a mainstay of British roads for decades, safe, dependable, a go-to car like the Volkswagen Golf. You might not know it, but there’s a new one on the market, and this is it – the 2019 Vauxhall Astra.
It boasts such things as a class-leading drag coefficient of just 0.26 Cd, all-new engines that decrease emissions and fuel consumption along with numerous chassis tweaks. Incredibly exciting stuff.
All joking aside, the new Astra is a damn good car, here’s why.
Apparently, Joe public loved the look of the Astra so much, that Vauxhall have tweaked just the front bumper. Clearly, it’s a design icon, either that or there wasn’t a massive amount of budget to reface a car that will ultimately end up co-developed with the next-gen Peugeot 308 in a few years.
Put the old and new side by side for a tricky game of spot the difference, but beneath that incredible front face is some smart new tech.
Both upper and lower grilles now have an active shutter fitted to them, they’re independent of each other and work with the car to help the engine warm-up quicker, or cool down slower when needed. This helps with emissions as well as heating up the Astra faster on those chilly winter mornings.
Not only that but those shutters reduce drag and can increase fuel efficiency by 5% when cruising at 70 MPH.
Underneath Vauxhall have also gone to work on all those hangy down bits. There’s extensive use of underbody coverings on the engine, gearbox, front floor, fuel tank, wheels and arches. Even the aerodynamically shaped control arms have been added to the rear to aid airflow.
Depending on the spec, ride height has also been dropped 10mm. All these little new additions can save up to 21% on CO2 emissions compared to the outgoing Astra.
So for all the dullery, it seems Vauxhall have seriously taken a look at the Astra and thought about how they can improve it in nearly every possible way. Hats off to you.
This 2019 Vauxhall Astra also features all-new engines, both petrol and diesel.
Now you might be thinking these are of the PSA variety since the purchase of the brand last year, wrong. Apparently the PSA engines simply won’t work with the existing architecture, they should fit, so it must be something ECU or electrical related.
Whatever the incompatibility it’s doubtful PSA have bunged a load of money Vauxhalls way to develop a range of petrol and diesel powerplants.
As to where these engines were sourced, who knows.
Thankfully there aren’t any under the power of 105 PS, and all are incredibly punchy. No longer are there lacklustre normally aspirated 1.4 petrol’s.
Choices are a 1.2 petrol with either 110, 130 or 145 PS, a 1.4 with 145 PS and the stepless auto ‘box. Then there are two 1.5 litre diesels with either 105 or 122 PS.
We drove the two most potent petrol versions, with 130 and 145 PS. Both are incredible amounts of power to get from a 1.2 litre, and neither leave you wanting more. Pickup is quick, they’re happy to rev and only seem to run out of puff ever so slightly at speeds above 70.
What stands out the most is just how sweetly the Astra now handles. It’s sharp, direct, keen to corner and stays where you want it. Body control is superb with only a smidge of roll as you barrel into a corner.
The Astra now feels light, airy, bereft of weight, combine that with the power on offer and you’ve got a suitably warm hatch that you can really enjoy driving at pace down your favourite country road.
And yet get it over rougher sections of tarmac or at a cruise, and the Astra is calm and settled. In every sense of the phrase, it’s just like a Golf when it comes to handling prowess.
Inside the Astra is familiar, but there’s been a much needed declutter of buttons. It’s still not as spartan as one of it’s Germanic rivals, but it’s getting there.
Thankfully there’s a physical audio control in the middle of the dash, with hard buttons for skipping tracks, home on the infotainment and the different media sources on offer. Below that sits the heating and air controls.
Then there’s this odd-shaped shallow alcove, it has a lip inside it, but it’s far too small to store a phone in. A pen just about fits but gets stuck in the lip. Who knows what it’s for?!
A large central LCD screen is found behind the steering wheel, the two outermost dials dissect it, so you get a half analogue, half digital setup. Handy, as it can switch up info, but it feels a bit of a mish-mash compared to the what VW and Audi offer these days.
The infotainment system is easy to use, just make sure you go for one of the higher trims like Elite Nav or Ultimate as you get a larger 8-inch screen rather than the smaller 7-inch model that comes as standard.
Rear seat leg and headroom is easily comparable to the larger Skoda Octavia, while the boot measures in at a healthy 370 litres. You do have to be careful of the lip in the boot though, sadly there’s no adjustable height boot floor to be found.
One thing that lets the Astra down is that it looks too much like the outgoing model, under skin revisions like this need to be shouted about as they’ve totally changed the dynamic. But without it looking different on the outside, it’s still going to appeal to those same buyers in that same market.
If you’re considering a VW Golf, go and drive this new Astra beforehand. Yes, you may lose a tiny amount when it comes to build quality, but its on-road abilities are second to none, you could save yourself a packet.