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Driven: Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130. Image by Vauxhall.

Driven: Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130
The Astra has a brave new look, but has the newfound style affected the family hatchbackís competence?

   



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2022 Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130PS

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The Vauxhall Astra has long been a favourite among British customers, and with good reason. The last-generation car was a comfortable, practical and competitively priced option with a modicum of dynamic verve. But Vauxhall has changed significantly since that car was launched, and the new Astra is an altogether different beast. Now more exciting to look at and more high-tech inside, will it be an even more compelling challenger to the VW Golf and Ford Focus?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130PS
Price: £29,310 (as tested)
Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Power: 130hp
Torque: 230Nm
Emissions: 125-131g/km
Economy/Range: 48.7-50.4mpg
0-62mph: 9.7 seconds
Top speed: 130mph
Boot space: 422-1,389 litres

Styling

Perhaps the weakest part of the last-generation Astra's offering was its design, which was probably best described as unremarkable. That accusation certainly can't be levelled at the new model, which looks awesome with its squared-off nose and modern grille that isn't really a grille after all. This GS Line version comes with dark alloy wheels that match the black front end, as well as a black roof that gives it even more visual presence. It's a good-looking thing.

Interior

The Astra's cabin looks considerably more modern than that of its predecessor, and it feels better too, but it still can't match the class leaders. The touchscreen and instrument cluster are effectively lifted from sister brands Peugeot and Citroen, so they work reasonably well, even if they're a little clunky at times. But the cabin plastics still feel decidedly Vauxhall-ish, which means there are some really cheap materials in awkward places, including the areas around the door handles. And while the physical switches have mostly been removed in favour of touchscreen icons, those that remain feel a bit tacky and low-rent.

Practicality

The Astraís boot measures up well when compared with other family hatchbacks Ė particularly the VW Golf and Ford Focus. Where the Golf offers 381 litres of luggage capacity, the Astra comes in with 422 litres of space, eclipsing its most popular rivals. Itís marginally more capacious than the Peugeot 308 with which it shares so much, but the difference isnít huge. But while the boot space impresses, rear passenger space is not so plentiful. While four adults can fit inside the Astra, rear headroom is no more than adequate and legroom is no better than average. Thereís definitely more space in the back of a Ford Focus.

Performance

The Astra range essentially comprises a small selection of petrol and diesel engines, but there are plug-in hybrids too. Most of the engines are based on Peugeot-Citroen's 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo unit, with either 110hp or 130hp and a choice of manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions, while there's also a 1.5-litre diesel. Or you can have a 180hp plug-in hybrid that combines an electric motor with a 1.6-litre petrol engine. Every powertrain drives the front wheels as standard.

We tested the 130hp petrol engine with the automatic gearbox, and found it adequate for most occasions. The gearbox and stop-start system sometimes get in each other's way at junctions, but once you're up and running, the engine is quiet and smooth, while the gearbox goes about its business unobtrusively. It's economical, too, managing more than 50mpg on a long motorway run.

Ride & Handling

For all the old Astraís faults, it was at least quite pleasant to drive. The handling was nothing to write home about, but it rode well and that made it a very pleasant motorway cruiser. The new car Ė at least in GS Line trim Ė doesnít have the same subtlety, and thatís something of a loss. It isnít uncomfortable, but thereís a hard edge to the ride that you donít get from the Peugeot 308 with which the new Astra shares so much. That said, the Vauxhall is a little more exciting to drive, even if the steering is too numb to feel reassuring. It turns into corners quite keenly, though, and there isnít a huge amount of body roll.

Value

Astra prices start from just over £25,000, which makes it marginally cheaper than a VW Golf, and that isn't bad for a car that comes with alloy wheels, push-button start and a 10-inch touchscreen as standard. Climate control and a digital instrument display are thrown in too, along with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity tech. But the GS Line version we tested, with its automatic gearbox, 17-inch alloys and heated seats, came in at more than £29,000. Again, it isn't too expensive in today's market, and you get plenty of kit, but it doesn't feel especially cheap, either.

Verdict

The latest-generation Astra is more visually appealing than its predecessor and more attractive inside, not to mention more practical. But there the advantages end. The new car isn't as comfortable or as pleasant to drive as the old car. So while it may stack up well on paper, it can't match rivals such as the VW Golf and Ford Focus on the road.



James Fossdyke - 31 Oct 2022



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2022 Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130PS Hatchback. Image by Vauxhall.2022 Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130PS Hatchback. Image by Vauxhall.2022 Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130PS Hatchback. Image by Vauxhall.2022 Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130PS Hatchback. Image by Vauxhall.2022 Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130PS Hatchback. Image by Vauxhall.

2022 Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130PS Hatchback. Image by Vauxhall.2022 Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130PS Hatchback. Image by Vauxhall.2022 Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130PS Hatchback. Image by Vauxhall.2022 Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130PS Hatchback. Image by Vauxhall.2022 Vauxhall Astra GS Line 1.2 Turbo 130PS Hatchback. Image by Vauxhall.








 

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