Our Cars : The Astra Sports Tourer goes home

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Astra Sports Tourer at Ellesmere Port

Current mileage    12,101
Claimed economy    62.8mpg
Actual economy    48.1mpg

One of the joys of living in a multi-vehicle household is that there’s always work to do on one of the cars. And because I have a taste for fast hatchbacks from the 1970s and ’80s in particular – and the rarer the better – I’m usually on some parts-finding mission.

My latest caper involved a trip to Merseyside. I needed to pick up a set of 15-inch alloy wheels for a Citroen BX 16-Valve currently residing at my place, and given the huge and usable loadspace of the Astra Sports Tourer, combined with its reasonable fuel consumption (I will get back to this in the next update) make taking the Vauxhall up north an absolute no-brainer.

And every time I hit the motorway in the Astra it’s hard not to come away thinking that the GM engineers really have honed this car for long, fast, non-stop journeys. The driving position is excellent (barring the usual caveat of rubbish front three-quarter visibility thanks to a bulky A-pillar), and the ride, while firm (and certainly more so than the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf Mk6) is pliantly-damped, and never gets tiring on a run. I’ve heard some journalists bemoan the Astra for having inert steering, but it’s well-weighted and nicely geared, inspiring plenty of confidence at speed.

Heading north, cruise control dialled-in at 70mph, the Astra’s a pleasant place to be, and the miles roll agreeably on. Sadly once again the fuel consumption proves disappointing, with a non-stop run to Ellesmere Port (where the Astra was built) failing to crack 50mpg. Again.

As we line-up the car in front of a Vauxhall-logo’d tower at the Ellesmere Port factory, it’s easy to appreciate the fine stylng (subjective, I know), which looks best in profile. Again, I think the British-made Vauxhall has the beating of the Focus and Golf in this department. But after being chased off-site by some security guards in a (thankfully Vauxhall Astra) van, we headed off for the real reason we headed north.

Fitting four hefty (used) wheels and tyres in the boot was a piece of cake for the Astra. The load bay is well shaped and large (even if the seats don’t fold fully flat), and once loaded, it was possible to slide the luggage cover across them, and remain flat in the process. Great!

As for the trip – it was in mixed conditions, mostly motorway, and never over 70mph. Average fuel consumption for the run was 48.1mpg. The only real disappointment of the day.

Four OZ Supertouring wheels fit in the Astra's boot without lowering the seat or affecting the luggage cover.
Four OZ Supertouring wheels fit in the Astra’s boot without lowering the seat or affecting the luggage cover.
Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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23 Comments

  1. No offence to personal preference but those wheels will look attrocious and blingy on a bx

    You need the flat disc (with square type recesses) wheels in 14″, shod with michelins and finished in a graphite grey colour

    Perfect

  2. P.S., Have you tried getting quality V-rated 195/60×14 tyres? It’s impossible. H-rated yes, not V-rated. And the 16V needs Vs…

    Hence the 15s. 195/50x15s (for the BX) are a piece of cake to source.

  3. @Alan M; I find it wonderful that you were also more interested in the BX than the Astra, although I think the wheels could look quite nice on a BX, depending on the colour.

    Alas, the Astra…sorry, feeling tired, must rest immediately…

  4. Sad as it is to say this, the Astra whilst nice I am sure, is a bit boring and modern for me.

    I also could not afford to buy it.

    The bx though…….

    Mmmm a nice TZD would do me well.

    To Keith – I would be happy enough with H rated tyres on the 14’s as I barely drive over 50mph!!!

    P.s. Sent Keith a message on facebook

  5. Being chased by security guards doesn’t sound nice – were you encroaching on Vauxhall’s private property? they should be grateful to you. It is a nice photo anyway…

  6. Easy to see you are disappointed by the fuel consumption. In real life the CO2 emissions from the Astra and our old K-engined Tourer would be more or less the same – so much for progress! (Yes, the Tourer needs more fuel – 44.1mpg on the last trip in Britain)
    I should not look at the BX pics too long – it makes me want to have something riding on gas 🙂

  7. Those wheels look alright on a BX to me- albeit a bit undersized for the wheel arch. Straight spoked wheels pretty much look good on most cars and they aren’t brash.

    The Integrale looks good- how’s that project going?

  8. #10 Hilton D they’ve always been a bit zealous at EP. I got buzzed when I visited in about 1980 with my Firenza. Mind you, they’re close to Liverpool, which isn’t exactly a theft-free zone…

  9. @14 Thanks Ken… that’s a good point. By the way, I remember the “Firenza” – great name! I still have a 1970s Vauxhall brochure with it featured. The HC coupe bodyshell was later used to create the basic Viva E Coupe, before the saloon version emerged. Sorry, I digress…

  10. I’ve always fancied the idea of putting ZX Volcane alloys on a BX…

    But I’m with Keith, I like the multi-spokers…

    Oh, and great article. Astra H is way better than the Mk3 Focus looks wise (Ford’s styling is getting rather dull as of late)…

  11. @ 16.

    I always found the Ford Titanium wheels a little bland although better than the standard Zetec wheels. I like the Zetec Sport wheels – managed to persuade a dealer to swap the standard Zetec wheels for them on a C-Max Zetec the missus was going to buy. She thought I was being a bit hard on the sales lassie…

    With the exception of the early Mk1 9-3 SE multi-spoke wheels, SAAB designed the best manufacturer wheels. The later 9-3 triangle-themed wheels on the SE Cabrio/Coupe were really nice!

  12. As a reader of this site for a few years now, I take issue with comment #14 by Ken Strachan and I’d like to know which crime-free part of the country he lives in.

    I’m not pretending to be totally crime-free, but here in Liverpool we have recently been found to be the second safest city in the country in relation to crime, automotive or otherwise (Office for National Statistics 2012). He likes his 80’s cars, and his 80’s stereotypes by the look of it.

    If the comment appeared to have been made in jest, I could accept it however that does not seem to be the tone of his statement. I will continue to enjoy this site, however will be sure to ignore this particular person.

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