A real return to form for Vauxhall’s mid-sized estate car

THE new Vauxhall Astra stands out unlike anything else I can recall from my two decades of road testing vehicles from the Griffin-badged brand.
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer GS Plug-in HybridVauxhall Astra Sports Tourer GS Plug-in Hybrid
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer GS Plug-in Hybrid

VX220 aside, it is the standout Vauxhall design of recent years, unapologetically combining the crisp creases and wedgy panels of that 2005 Lotus Elise-based sports car to striking effect.

Far from looking unwieldy in the spacious Sports Tourer guise tested here, its longer flanks give it a sleeker appearance.

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Prices start at around £28,000 with the GS Line driven here costing £32,055.

Our car came with the 130PS 1.2-litre engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox familiar to various cars from Vauxhall’s owner, Stellantis.

The three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine feels gutsier than its quoted power output at part-throttle, with 230Nm of torque delivering eager responses.

Stretch the engine and a thrummy three-cylinder soundtrack hardens, heralding a less vigorous top end more indicative of the claimed 9.9 second acceleration to 62mph.

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Official fuel economy of 47.9 to 49.6mpg and 128 to 134g/km CO2 emissions are impressive.

The Astra’s chassis also flatters when asked to deliver three- and six-tenths of its performance. The steering is light, making the car feel agile, the suspension offering reasonable poise.

That wedgy exterior is mirrored by a cabin featuring an abundance of right angles and flat surfaces.

A dash-top panel incorporates ten-inch infotainment and instrument screens.

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There are few soft-touch surfaces but, overall, the strong design theme works well.

Among the GS Line trim highlights are: keyless entry; adaptive cruise control; traffic sign recognition; heated front seats and steering wheel; and a 360-degree parking camera.

The front seats are also certified by the German association for back-pain prevention and proved very supportive and comfortable.

Despite a 57mm longer wheelbase than the hatchback, the Sport Tourer’s rear legroom still feels on par with most C-segment rivals.

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Its 516 litre boot is over 120 litres smaller than the class-leading Skoda Octavia Estate.

There are more spacious estate cars available and a stylish alternative in the form of Stellantis stablemate, the Peugeot 308.

Nonetheless, this still feels like a real return to form for Vauxhall’s mid-sized estate car.

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