Our Cars : Astra Sport Tourer joins the fleet

The excellent news that General Motors has committed to the UK for future production of the Astra means that the Vauxhall marque maintains an important foothold in its home market.

To celebrate, AROnline is running an Astra SRi Sport Tourer for the next six months – and to see how one of the UK’s favourite family cars and work horses stands up to the day-to-day rigours thrown up as part of a writer’s hectic lifestyle.

Every day hero

When Vauxhall announced that Astra production was to remain in the UK back in May, the cheers from Ellesmere Port could be heard all across the land. Considering the UK economy is mired in its worst (double dip) recession in living memory, the good news from GM was yet another fillip for our car industry, which is actually going through something of a renaissance in 2012 – what with Jaguar Land Rover recording record sales, and Toyota, Nissan and Honda all taking on more workers…

So we know that Vauxhall is doing well in the UK, and its product line-up is probably at its most appealing in a generation – and that meant that when we found ourselves in the market for a new hold-all and support vehicle, we had no hesitation in choosing an Astra Sport Tourer 1.7CDT SRi. Compared with its close rival, the Focus, the Astra currently lacks an eco-petrol powertrain option like the brilliant new Ford Ecoboost, but the 1.7-litre CDT option delivers plenty of performance, economy and low-tax driving.

We’ll run through and introduce the car fully in the coming days, and the reasons why we chose the model we did – but for now, we’ll just say that after a week and 1200-miles, the Astra’s performing marvellously, whisking us to the North of England and back in a day, and then chasing a supercar across Europe the following weekend, without missing a beat, and delivering an average of 46mpg over some very hard driving. It’s easy to see why so many business users plump for the good-looking Astra – in very little time, it’s become an indispensable tool for us, too.

More to follow, soon…

Keith Adams


  1. Is the engine based on the old Vauxhall (not Isuzu) diesel?

    There are probably still pieces of my GM Astra Mk 3 diesel engine in the central reservation and grassy bank on the M1 near Nottingham where it sadly ‘ceased to proceed’.

    That said, when I put a replacement engine in it went quite well between breakdowns, but eventually the gearbox went as well, so it was put out of my misery.

    The new one is nicely styled by Vauxhall standards and probably a decent enough steer too.

  2. ooh I hope this is a good news story. I can see soon that GM Europe cars will become rebadged Chevrolets and that Luton’s van making capability may disappear: GM Europe strange dalliance with Peugoet does not bode well for GM’s Renault/Nissan collaboration at the old IBC plant. Sadly reading all this makes me foresee a very radical restructure.

    Good to see Nissan doing well with support for the UK. I’d forget about GM for now: http://www.autocar.co.uk/blogs/anything-goes/qashqai-my-greatest-brit-car

  3. The current Astra is quite a nice looking car in both Hatch and Tourer form… I see Vauxhall, like many other car makers are calling their Estate versions “Tourers” these days. Ford still call the Focus an “Estate”.

    In the 1970s one of my colleagues used to refer to our company Cortina Estates as “Shooting brakes” (as in American?) Anyway, the aronline car seems promising.

  4. Given the choice between an Eco-Boom and something that would be better suited bolted inside a Type VIIC I think I would pick the latter.
    It would have cost £3500 to replace the turbo on my dads Merc if it wasn’t a known design fault & thats a 3.2 litre diesel engine. What it will cost when an petrol Eco-boom eats its turbo I shudder to think. Not to mention the wonderful idea of dousing the timing belt in engine oil *sigh* to “enhance longevity” – I wonder how long it will take for people to let the oil run low (or not change it for the best part of a decade) and either fry or chew the timing belt. I am just hoping its a non-interference engine…

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