Vauxhall’s Astratrix driven

Posted by Paul Horrell at 5:25 pm on Monday July 13, 2009

Astra1In among all the jiggery-pokery about Vauxhall’s new owners (Russian? Chinese? Italian? Belgian?) the company is still busy churning out new cars. Foreman has driven a prototype of this autumn’s Astra, and it’s a seriously good rival for the Focus or Golf.

Compare the design with the Insignia, and you can see the new-Vauxhall tune has been given a nifty remix. Like the side scallops, which are reversed. It’s a tidy job, with quality touches all over.

Inside, again there are strong Insignia influences, and again that’s absolutely no bad thing. This is a car many people will be given as a work tool, and they’ll be practically taking up residence in this cabin. So they’ll be glad there are tons of storage spaces, especially with the optional electric handbrake, which frees up console space. And thanks to ‘light pipes’ you get chintzy mood lighting around the console and door armrests. Just the thing to balm the soul at the end of a hard day’s commercial travelling.Astra7

The smooth, calm attitude extends to its on-the-road engineering too. The ride is far better than the old one, more pliant over big bumps, quieter and more stable on motorways.

And the handling? The current Astra is a laugh to drive, with enthusiastic engines and a sharp attitude to corners. The new one is even better in most departments: it grips harder and understeers less. And the better springing means it’s hardly upset by mid-corner bumps. The only slight downer is that the new steering has less feel than before.
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I was in a 1.6 turbo. Its 180bhp shoves the new car along nicely. It has a six-speed box, but unlike Ford and VW, Vauxhall doesn’t have a twin-clutch option. The range will have loads of other choices too, including new 140bhp 1.4 turbo and (wee-hee) a 240bhp VXR.

Astra2All very good then. But will the company survive? As I write, the bid from Magna, propped up by Russian capital, is still the officially agreed one. But Belgian venture capitalists RHJ are said to be about to submit a revised bid. Beijing Auto has apparently submitted an offer too. And Fiat is still scratching around.  So it’s fair to say someone will build this new Astra: we just don’t quite know who yet.

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  1. Stiggy said...
    Monday July 13, 2009 at 6:49 pm Link to comment Report comment

    no extra power for VXR- why?
    why not a BTCC spec car?
    First ccomment!

  2. cathied said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 1:40 am Link to comment Report comment

    [Comment moved to http://transmission.blogs .topgear.com/2009/07/12/s how-four-the-facts/#comme nt-21359 as it was a telly show comment.]

  3. Macgyver1977 said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 6:53 am Link to comment Report comment

    The back end looks like a Mk1 Mazda3 mated with the new Megane. I cannot see myself in one of these. They are trying hard to escape from that mediocre image Opel has had for decades but it just feels too late to get back in the game.

  4. Eskimo said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 8:17 am Link to comment Report comment

    Just out of interest if one purchased all the individual car parts, from a main dealer, for example a VW Golf, how much would it cost and how long would it take the Top Gear team to put the vehicle together?

  5. das stig said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 10:42 am Link to comment Report comment

    i think the astra has always been a good car just never as good as its rivals and considering that vauxhall are trying to clean up there act by making a replacement for the vectra .(not that im a fan of vauxhall ihate 85% of there range but i think they are getting better at making cars)

  6. millster said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 10:51 am Link to comment Report comment

    not very keen on the back end but the rest of it looks really good

  7. SD said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 11:14 am Link to comment Report comment

    Well I have always liked the Astra, especially the mk4. This new one looks really nice, I would buy it over just about any of the rivals.

    Glad to see Vauxhall have cleaned up their act in the interior department since the mk5. Now all we have to do is hope that the VXR either gets a clever front diff or AWD.

  8. svrallo svrallone said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 12:21 pm Link to comment Report comment

    i like it. the back bumper is quite stupid, but i like all the rest.good for opel.

  9. Jean said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 12:50 pm Link to comment Report comment

    The crisis makes them building good looking cars again. First proper Opel after the last Kadett and that’s a while ago!

  10. Subhan Rehman said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 12:51 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I have always loved Vauxhaul Astras, because 1. their practical and farely cheap,
    2.It fun and sassy to drive, 3. You don’t look like a nob at the wheel unlike a Toyota Corrola. I hope the VXR and BTCC spec arrives next year. Otherwises she’s mighty fight and very sexy to look at.

  11. ecosse8 said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 12:58 pm Link to comment Report comment

    …bland, bland, bland…other than chavs only fleet buyers will order them by the dozen. Who would buy this over a golf? silly comparison

  12. trebor901 said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 1:33 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I cant see there being a BTCC car out of this generation of Astra due to the fact Vauxhall have pulled out and its pretty unlikely 888 will want to carry on using Vauxhall’s

  13. yanisss said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 1:34 pm Link to comment Report comment

    as a small car this one’s very nice… if they don’t make it expensive it should work good,
    the design in my opinion is a very good and clean on the outside, looks more grown up than fords new efforts, but inside still too … teenager’ish
    it could prolly do without those color things and with some more discrete dials but overall it’s less boring than fords and vw smallcars so i give it a thubs up

  14. PetrolHead247 said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 3:14 pm Link to comment Report comment

    The Vauxhall Astra. A car i’ve hated since it started sharing bits and pieces with the awful Vectra, until now. Luckily the Astra now shares parts with the Insignia which is a great car.

    The Exterior styling isn’t like any previous Astra – boring. It’s got more lines, curves and swooping edges which is a good thing. It sometimes screams ‘Insignia’ at you as if it’s just like a Focus-sized Insignia, which it mainly is, and that’s great.

    The interior isn’t dull, nor is it insanely bright and unbearible, it’s just right. You’ve got very clear dials, a sporty steering-wheel and seats and it does looks relaxing. I can imagine tons of these happily cruising down dull motorways effortlessly, which is good if your using it for long journeys.

    The new Astra is a huge chunk of Insignia and a small dribble of newness. I can imagine it worrying VW but can it outsell the Ford Focus which is one of the best hatches in the UK. It’s possible, very possible. All i need to do now is test-drive one asap.

  15. Lloydy said...
    Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 4:56 pm Link to comment Report comment

    eeeeww i still prefer the current astra sport hatch or VXR… and wont look as good with the VXR.

    WHY OH WHY do the new hatchbacks look crummy??
    – The facelifted focus – with the same body but the worse lights, i want the RS with the cosworth engine…and for that reason it really isnt going to be amazing as it should be
    – The golf mk6 – dont want to know…. Mk5′s had too many pies
    – Renault – have an obsession with a “lets make a gimmicky audi grille” except they have screwed up with the megane and clio
    – Subaru – now have the impreza as a hatchback, what a TERRIBLE mistake
    And now this!
    anyone else agree???? :(

    P.S i think i’d get a MSB colt over these or a lancer hatch, they look nice :D :(

  16. Shaney said...
    Wednesday July 15, 2009 at 7:55 am Link to comment Report comment

    I’ve only ever owned Astras, and in my opinion they get better and better!

    I’m on my third one now, a 1.6 16v Twinport SXi model which I absolutely love driving.

    Can’t wait to get my hands on one of these though!

    Saying that, I have heard of many issues with 1.8 engines and 1.4 just doesn’t seem powerful enough, stick with the 1.6 engine and you’re guaranteed a certain degree of satisfaction.

  17. Gilbert said...
    Wednesday July 15, 2009 at 9:40 am Link to comment Report comment

    not the ugliest car on the market but still pretty awfull!! it just doesnt have the look of class that the likes of VW have, which i think is the biggest obstacle opel/vauxhall have! its going to be hit or a miss.

  18. tgultimatefan said...
    Wednesday July 15, 2009 at 12:13 pm Link to comment Report comment

    not a bad looking car but…er…

  19. gez said...
    Wednesday July 15, 2009 at 4:05 pm Link to comment Report comment

    i think it looks alrite but cud of dun better at back of car. interior looks cool it needs bigger engines, vxr needs to be lighter, better suspension, bigger engine, and vxr shud be able to hav a five – door vxr, it just needs to look different than the rivals but the other rivals are tidy and well designed

  20. Top Gear said...
    Wednesday July 15, 2009 at 6:18 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Looks good.

  21. Nathan said...
    Wednesday July 15, 2009 at 7:09 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Agreed. ;)

  22. Dave Brown said...
    Wednesday July 15, 2009 at 11:42 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I have driven many cars over the years and I have to say the Astra has always been one of the best ‘fun’ lower budget cars around.

    I had Astras for many years then made the mistake of getting an MK4 Golf. To be honest they (Golfs) are so over hyped its untrue. The build quality of an MK4 is quite simply horrific the interior is the worst ive ever known, the 1.6 engines are gutless and the gear box is unreliable. Engine Management light is a permanent feature on the dash. The MK4 Golf was simply the worst car ive ever owned and I made a massive mistake putting my hard saved money into one in 2002. The aftersales was cronic, as soon as the Warranty was done the car was a money pit.

    The Focus isnt bad but again I cant honestly see why people say its so fantastic to drive, I found it pretty boring the latest model is worse than the original too IMO. Before getting rid of the Golf I made a point of test driving for a week or so as many cars as possible, I founf the Astra the best.

    The MK4 Astra is a great car, and I currently still have the 1.6 one I traded for my Golf, honestly a superb car since ive had it ive done over 15000 miles with no trouble. Would love to upgrade to an MK5 or MK6 when ive saved up the money I wasted on the VW.

  23. Fatlad said...
    Thursday July 16, 2009 at 5:53 am Link to comment Report comment

    I like the look of this new astra. I cant believe that there isnt any power difference to the VXR thaough, also the VXR version needs to be rear or 4 wheel drive imo…

  24. jamjam said...
    Thursday July 16, 2009 at 6:25 am Link to comment Report comment

    ugly ugly ugly they have ruined it! the old astra looked gud the new one doesnt!

  25. KarMa said...
    Thursday July 16, 2009 at 9:38 pm Link to comment Report comment

    D-oh?
    dulllllll… hope it’s as good as usual or better, ’cause it’s worse looking than usual

  26. Andy,10 said...
    Friday July 17, 2009 at 9:35 am Link to comment Report comment

    Looks Nice!!!

  27. Rich T said...
    Monday July 20, 2009 at 11:44 am Link to comment Report comment

    Looks ok but will it be reliable as recent Vauxhalls have had very poor reliablity.

    Secondly will it handle? GM Don’t build great handling fwd cars if you compare them with most rivals, – maybe they’ve cracked it finally…..

  28. car mad said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 11:47 am Link to comment Report comment

    i think that vauxhall is the 3rd best at makin hatchbacks.1st is ford and 2nd is VW

  29. e-bunny said...
    Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 7:00 pm Link to comment Report comment

    ..culling out the weak.. what a Looser..

  30. TUBBY said... said...
    Wednesday July 22, 2009 at 9:21 pm Link to comment Report comment

    this astra actually looks nice… the old astras have been a bit boring, but they always looked fresh, and modern. and people who say that it doesent have more power in the new VXR, they forget that this is still 240 BHP in a small hatch, and it will obviously be a 3- door, so it will be much lighter….

  31. Tom said...
    Friday July 24, 2009 at 1:50 am Link to comment Report comment

    I think it looks nice, however if its only now a serious contender to the Focus, and the Focus is approaching the end of its life, how will it compare when Ford release an all-new Focus? I think this competitiveness will be a short lived affair.

  32. twojags said...
    Sunday August 2, 2009 at 5:31 pm Link to comment Report comment

    it looks great but it a vauxhall and that makes it uncool and they might not make it but then again when they make the sport vershion it could be great

  33. callumlLambo said...
    Sunday August 9, 2009 at 10:52 am Link to comment Report comment

    It sounds like a good car but i doubt it will be as good as the likings of the Golf or the handling of the new Ford Focus. Im going to Portugal in a couple of days and my grandads hiring an Opel Corsa. I dont see whats different to the Vauxhall version though. I like the VXR models of Vauxhalls. We`ll just have to see what this ones like.

  34. gebhardt namibia said...
    Wednesday August 12, 2009 at 9:05 pm Link to comment Report comment

    top notch.no more playing golf!

  35. pringle lad said...
    Monday August 17, 2009 at 5:47 pm Link to comment Report comment

    its an ugly car why would anyone buy one over a focus or golf the only reason i can think of is that they have no testies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. pringle said...
    Monday August 17, 2009 at 5:49 pm Link to comment Report comment

    THE DULLEST LOOKIN CAR IN THE WORLD

  37. lukeage9 said...
    Wednesday August 19, 2009 at 4:43 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Looks very similar to the current car at the front (apart from those LEDs) but looks far better from the back. Will definetely kick Ford, maybe Woltswagen. Pringle, youre talking complete rubbish. It’s not the dullest looking car in the world, but it’s not the most exiting either. And you’ve got to remember this is a Vauxhall (or Opel if you look at the badge, but they’re both the same) not the maker of the very best hatchbacks so I don’t know…
    The ‘sport’ button is also pressed – the dials are glowing red. (Bet no-one else here knew that!)

  38. SUZUKIVSCHEVVY said...
    Tuesday October 27, 2009 at 11:54 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I think the car is a major improvement from the other cars that vauxhall has made, first of all, i think its a lovely looking car, and secondly, how could vauxhall have pulled some as good looking as that.

  39. PRIETARRADS said...
    Thursday December 17, 2009 at 7:15 pm Link to comment Report comment

    What’s up all, I’m new to the forum and justified wanted to approximately hey. hi love manipulate to recollect unusual pepole and allowance stuff with them

    have a happy year

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