- Superbly economical
- Very nice interior
- Rivals are more refined
- Firm ride
The all-new Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer is about to roll off the production line, following the recent release of its more popular sibling, the Astra hatchback.
With its good handling and well-equipped trims, the latter has raised a few eyebrows as Vauxhall continues to try to close the gap to Ford and Volkswagen.
It’s also hoping to appeal to those looking to the future by launching a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version, which promises low running costs and superb fuel economy.
The PHEV is only obtainable with mid-range GS Line and top-of-the-range Ultimate, although the latter trim won’t be on sale until October.
So, if you want one now, you're stuck with GS Line – but that's arguably the one to go for. You get athletic looks, sports pedals, 17-inch alloys, climate control, and a 10-inch Pure Panel infotainment system with SatNav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get a 10-inch digital instrument cluster, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, heated front sports seats, tinted rear windows and a black roof.
If you wait for Ultimate trim, you'll get 18-inch rims, dual-zone climate control, a head-up display, a heated windscreen and a wireless phone charger.
Powering the hybrid is a turbocharged four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol engine producing 180PS when combined with an 81kW electric motor. It comes with an eight-speed auto gearbox and, like the entire range, it is front-wheel drive.
The Vauxhall Astra is now built on the same EMP2 platform as the Peugeot 308. But you wouldn't know to look at it, inside or out.
It looks stunning and far more dynamic, with the rounded shape of old making way for straight lines and a more chiselled appearance.
The front also features the new design signature, the Vauxhall Vizor – a strip of glossy black plastic along the front grille – which you’ll see across the range as fresh models are launched.
The sides feature sculpted creases in the lower part of the doors, while around the back, there’s more chiselling which adds to the sportiness.
Inside, it looks fantastic. The patterns created by the various colours, such as on the doors, look modern and attractive, and the cabin is tarted up with bits of silver trim and glossy piano black.
The two 10-inch screens sit next to each other in one unit, with the infotainment screen tilted slightly to face the driver. The system is easy to use, while the screen is responsive with sharp graphics.
Thankfully, Vauxhall has left physical buttons beneath the screen, which mainly operate things like the climate control system.
It is a well-thought-out design, although some of the materials feel like they're of inferior quality. But they’re not enough to ruin it.
On The Road
Handling & Performance
Under acceleration, the Sports Tourer Hybrid-e moves away promptly from a standing start thanks to the amount of torque the electric motor provides.
Nought to 62mph is out of the way in 7.7-seconds. That's not amazing, but it is over two seconds quicker than any of the petrols or diesels in the range.
The hybrid goes about its business quietly. The engine turns itself on and off as needed, and you hardly notice it joining in with the electric motor unless you're trying to accelerate hard.
It appears to be best as a comfortable motorway cruiser, though. When pootling around town, it can feel a little bumpy, but at speed, it feels calmer and more refined.
Around corners, it isn't bad, but it isn't a car geared up for performance, despite how it looks. The hatchback is the one to go for if you want keener handling. But the estate – especially with the weight of the electric motor and batteries in the hybrid – isn’t quite as adept at tackling the bends with great aplomb.
Despite this, it’s still enjoyable to drive – and, while it’s not as agile as its appearance suggests, it's still one of the best handling cars compared with its rivals.
Space & Practicality
There’s plenty of space inside the Astra Sports Tourer, and the seats, certified by a German ergonomics body, are very comfy, helped by the adjustable lumbar support.
It's a piece of cake to find a decent driving position, too, as our GS Line model gets power adjustment in the driver’s seat, and it can save your preferred seating position, too.
Front visibility is okay, although the pillars on either side of the rear windscreen are a little thick - but parking sensors help.
In the back, most rear seat passengers won’t face a problem, as there’s a considerate amount of legroom and headroom.
Boot space is 516 litres in the hybrid, which is 81 litres less than in the non-hybrids. In addition, the rear seats fold down in a handy 40:20:40 split – most cars have the less convenient 60:40 divide – expanding the available space to 1,553 litres.
A 12.4kWh battery powers the Hybrid-e's electric motor. According to Vauxhall, the car can do 42 miles without using the petrol engine – and manage a top speed of 84mph on all-electric power, too.
You'll likely get slightly less than 42 miles unless the ambient conditions are optimal and you drive with a feather touch on the accelerator pedal.
The battery’s charging speed is 7kW, so a full 0-100% charge is over and done with in under two hours.
Fuel economy-wise, the official figure is 256mpg. Expect a bit less than this in the real world – plus, you'll need to keep the battery topped up to get anywhere near it.
CO2 emissions are measured at 25g/km, and it's in the 8% band for Benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax, making it attractive to company car users.
Regarding reliability, Vauxhall has a pretty good reputation nowadays. However, it's only recently started dabbling in plug-in hybrids. And, the new Astra is built on a different platform, so historical stats might not be indicative of how the Sports Tourer will manage.
For peace of mind, a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty is included as standard, with the batteries getting a separate eight-year, 100,000-mile guarantee.
The all-new Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer is a promising rival for the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and the Ford Focus.
It's not quite as refined as either of them, but it's narrowed the gap considerably, plus it's very good looking, and the interior is superbly attractive.
The Sports Tourer is also practical – and the Hybrid-e is economical – although the catch is a higher asking price than the non-hybrid versions.
Nevertheless, it drives well, has a decent amount of power, and it's comfortable.
The latest Astra is likely the best car Vauxhall has ever produced.