A history lesson…
Vauxhall’s reputation over the decades has been something of a rollercoaster ride. During the 1980’s, the Griffin-badged manufacturer was a bit of a joke. “You’re driving a Vauxhall? Oh dear” would have been the typical response you got during this period. They were bad cars made badly. But thanks to a complete re-branding during the early 2000’s, Vauxhall is now one of the most respected marques out there.
Cars like the Astra helped revolutionise Vauxhall and, now we’re into the newest model, it continues to impress. The new Astra came in 2010 and we were all very happy. It looked super-modern, a definite improvement over the old one and featured cleaner, more powerful engines.
With the GTC – which is the sporty version – drivers can experience a more thrilling driving experience coupled with the Astra’s great looks.
Bang for your buck
As a main rival for the Ford Focus, Vauxhall can’t mess about. And thankfully, they haven’t. The Astra is now as close as ever to the Focus, which is impressive considering the Focus is the clear market leader.
You get everything the Focus gets, albeit with a slightly less engaging drive. There’s airbags galore, safety equipment everywhere and plenty of gadgets to keep you entertained. The quality seems to have improved over the last incarnation, too, which only helps the Astra’s case for the throne.
What you’ll pay
Due to the Astra’s popularity and the fact that the new model only came out a couple of years ago you will pay a premium to get into one. Pre-2010 models are very cheap indeed, but post 2010s will cost you a fair bit to get in to.
An Astra 1.6 SE is going for around £10,345 on a 10 plate, with £11,500 bagging you a sporty 1.6 SRi Turbo.
What to check
Like all hatchbacks these days, they can be driven by the younger generations, so make sure the car hasn’t been ragged or thrashed. If you get yourself a new one, it will probably still be in warranty, so there’s little need to worry about any potential issues.
Expect to pay handsomely for a replacement clutch at £165, while front brake pads can be bought for a respectable £25. While a new Astra radiator will cost around £150.
How it drives
Vauxhall really has been trying to catch up to the Focus’ driving dynamics over the past few years. It’s a tough job to take on, as the Focus drives absolutely brilliantly and has been praised as the class-leader for involvement and excitement in this department, so the Astra really did need to step its game up.
Thankfully, it did, and the new Astra is as close as it has ever been to the driving prowess of the Focus. It’s not quite there, but we’ll forgive it with those looks. Driving the Astra is a positive and enjoyable experience. It has plenty of grip, clever tech and loads of charisma on the road, and with the SRi petrol models, you’ll be ensured of a sporty drive, too.
Ok, so the boot could be better, there could be more room inside and it could be cheaper, but as a viable alternative to the Focus, we can only recommend one.