I think it’s fair to say Vauxhall have knocked
it out of the park with the new Astra hatchback – it’s entertaining to drive, it’s stylish
and the interior is one of the smartest-looking on the market… but what about the Sports
Tourer? Well, estate versions of hatchbacks are sometimes
more demure as the large rear-end masks some of its stylish lines – and the Astra is
no different unfortunately – but this can be said for some of its rivals like the Honda
Civic Tourer and the VW Golf Estate. Now, so far we’ve tested the 1.6-litre whisper
diesel and the 1.0-litre turbo, but today we’ve got the 1.6-litre BiTurbo diesel.
When it comes to the Astra’s interior, I don’t actually think I would change anything
with the layout, I mean it looks good – especially with these computerised climate control read
outs, the buttons aren’t overwhelming and, I don’t know it’s just very user-friendly.
But it’s not just all style and no substance as every Astra gets things like Bluetooth,
air-con, DAB radio and an IntelliLink infotainment system. Go for this SRI Nav trim and you get
sat-nav of course, lane-keep assist, a forward facing camera and OnStar – which I will
come back to in a moment. Practicality up front is quite good too, with
this sliding arm rest, loads of adjustment in the drivers’ seat, big door bins and
two cup holders. We’ve also got this optional £40 Fragrance Diffuser plugged in – which
smells lovely. Just like the hatch, the Sports Tourer model
has loads of space in the rear, which should easily accommodate six-footers. You also get
good-sized door bins and overall it feels slightly airier due to the longer rear.
One thing that slightly disappointed me with the hatchback was the large loading lip of
the boot and of the rear seats when they were folded down. Thankfully though, the Sports
Tourer eliminates both these problems, has a flat loading service and has more storage
space with 540 litres with the seats up and 1,630 litres with the seats down. This actually
makes it one of the smallest in its class, but if you are after something bigger than
the Astra hatch, then great. Right, first we want to go somewhere for dinner,
so I am going to call OnStar to help me find somewhere… and you can also look at features
of the OnStar system in more depth by watching our Astra hatchback review here…
This 1.6-litre BiTurbo diesel produces a rather tasty 158bhp and 350Nm of torque – and believe
me when I say it can really go and it actually sounds quite sporty when you rev it out. One
of the best things about this diesel though is how placid and manageable it is when driving
around the city – as that grunt of power I mentioned only really comes in when you
gun it in third gear. Although this Bi-Turbo isn’t as efficient
as the famed whisper diesel, it still emits just 112g/km of CO2 and we’ve been getting
an average of 64mpg – not too far off the claimed 67mpg.
They’ve split the ride and handling compromise almost perfectly down the middle with the
Astra. On one hand the steering is responsive, slightly weightier in diesel models than in
petrols, and yet the ride is not too firm, not too soft. And the Sports Tourer’s actually
slightly comfier than the hatchback. You can opt to press the Sport button to make the
steering even weightier and more responsive – but I don’t think it needs it.
A few other little things worth mentioning are the rather grabby brakes, which take some
getting used to and the gearbox could be a bit snappier – but I think that’s down
to me wanting to rifle through the gears quicker because of how punchy this diesel is. The
gearbox does pose a small issue when it comes to buttons though – and I know I said I
wouldn’t change any of the buttons on the interior, but these buttons near the gearstick
can be hard to see when you are in 1st, 3rd and 5th. Only a small thing though.
Go for the basic 1.4-litre petrol Sports Tourer and you’ll
pay £16,500 – cheaper than the entry-level VW Golf Estate, Peugeot 308 SW and the Honda
Civic Tourer. This BiTurbo diesel SRI Nav model on the other hand will cost you upwards
of £23,000. So, as is the question with many estate variants
– does this offer all the good things of its smaller counterpart, but with more practicality?
Well, yes. And if it wasn’t for its slightly dowdier appearance, I think the Sports Tourer
would be seriously challenging the hatch for sales – I mean it’s only around £1,000
more expensive. But what do you think of the Astra Sports
Tourer? Let us know in the comments section below and don’t forget to subscribe to our
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