Vauxhall Astra Tourer - iDrive
It's time to look beyond the badge
Vauxhalls sell despite its name, rather than because of it and that makes the company’s UK sales success all the more remarkable: one-in-eight cars leaving British showrooms carry a griffin badge.
For some reason – Clarkson’s infamous review of the old Vectra, some dull models in the past, a lack of celeb glam, maybe – Vauxhall is a name that carries little cachet. And yet, it sells lots of cars, which rather suggests that, like a fine racehorse labouring under a weighty handicap, it has to try just that bit harder to beat the opposition.
So it is with the new Astra estate, or “Tourer” as the firm likes to call it. “Tourer” is a name traditionally associated with BMW estates, so maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised to see that the Astra estate, from most angles, resembles a shrunken 3-Series Tourer, right down to the “Hofmeister kink”, long a BMW hallmark – the characteristic way the window line kicks back at the rear. Indeed, returning from the Geneva motors I was struck by how many manufacturers want to ape the BMW style. Sad, but true.
That said, it is not entirely bad thing. Astra estates used to be boxy and boring and this isn’t. It’s stylish, in a plagiaristic sort of way and the version I sampled felt sporty, though it isn’t that fast in absolute terms. It was superbly finished and gives nothing away to a Golf for quality. Indeed it isn’t so far behind a BMW. In a fiercely competitive sector, Vauxhall is obviously striving for the elusive premium feel as well as the looks of the upmarket German brands. I particularly liked the soft lighting for the vanity mirrors, a feature I first noticed on a Range Rover about a decade ago and which has now trickled down from the exec cars, like sat-nav and electric parking brakes.
By the way, the Astra Tourer also takes plenty of clobber (1,550 litres worth) with the rear seats folded and the carpet in the boot was plusher than the one in my living room. My only niggle was with the “hill start assist", where the electric handbrake is automatically engaged to stop the car rolling back on an incline, which it did, but only for a few seconds. It seemed futile to me. Mind you, if it was in a BMW I would probably hail it as a superbly intuitive technical leap forward. Such are preconceptions – and they remain Vauxhall’s big problem.
VAUXHALL ASTRA SPORTS TOURER
Price: from £16,575 (£21,955 1.4T SRi tested)
Engine capacity: 1364cc (4cyl, 16-valve)
Power output (PS @ rpm): 140@4900
Top speed (mph): 125 0-60 mph (seconds): 9.5
Fuel economy (mpg): 46.4
CO2 emissions (g/km): 144
The obvious one will be the new Focus estate, though not out for ages yet. For now the VW Golf or the Renault Megane offer much the same package. Though old now, the Skoda Octavia estate offers, pictured, more space and better value. Kia’s cee’d SW is assured for 7 years, and Hyundai’s i30 for 5, against Vauxhall’s 100,000 “lifetime” warranty.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity
Life & Style blogs
iPhone 5C could be killed next year, and Apple’s cheap and cheerful line might die with it
Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
Coke milk? Coca-Cola to launch premium milk brand called Fairlife
Black Friday: Best fashion deals -online and on the high-street
UK's first plus-size fashion magazine Slink hits the shelves: 'Style doesn't stop at size 8'
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...