Our Cars : Astra Sports Tourer vs Ferrari Daytona!

Current mileage: 10,960miles
Claimed economy: 62.8mpg
Actual economy: 47.9mpg

Astra Sports Tourer and Ferrari Daytona

We’ve been so busy enjoying the Astra that at just 11,000-miles, the service light has come on, advising that the car needs an oil change. I must admit that our handsome Sports Tourer is feeling like it’s in need of a little TLC – although the engine is smooth as it ever was, and appears to be using no oil at all, there are a few clonks and rattles coming from the suspension that leave me wondering whether we might have a worn bush somewhere.

But having said that, the Astra still drives as well as it ever did. With sharp steering, a lovely gearchange and excellent driving position, it’s definitely the driver’s choice in its sector, despite the 1.7-litre ECOTEC engine’s laggy on/off nature, and rather dead brake pedal.

Just how effective the Astra’s dynamics are were proven to us on a recent trip to France. The car was acting as back-up car on a magazine photo shoot. We were tracking a Ferrari Daytona in northern France, and ended up covering rather a lot of distance in the pursuit of the perfect backdrop for our drive story. After a 500-mile day, the Ferrari’s interior was hot, its engine was beginning to complain about the temperature, and its driver tired (albeit elated).

Following in the Astra, photographer and I were still fresh, and ready for another few hours behind the wheel. However, it was on the second day of the shoot, that the Astra played another blinder – with pretty much all the photos done, and a ferry to catch, we up the pace, hit the A-roads, and create an unlikely two-car convoy. And here’s the thing – with the Ferrari owner pushing reasonably quickly (as much as he dares in the wet), we easily keep up. And in fact, at times, it feels like we’re being held-up.

Of course, I’m not claiming my 110bhp Astra can outrun a 174mph Ferrari that was once the fastest car you could buy new, but on a streaming day – with end of job fatigue kicking in – the Astra’s sheer dependability breeds confidence. While the Ferrari and its old tyres breed caution in any sensible driver. And if nothing else, clearly shows how far cars have moved on since the early-‘70s.

The Ferrari Daytona, which is worth well over £150,000 does have plenty of aces up its sleeve, though – not least all the attention it creates, and the amazing soundtrack its V12 screams through its exhaust. Given a straight choice, I think I’d still rather go for the Italian!

Still, I can’t wait to see how much better the Astra will feel once it’s had some serious attention in the service bay…

Keith Adams


  1. I’m really surprised the Astra has clonks and rattles already. My 61-plate Golf by comparison is as good as new (everyone who sits in it says it still smells like new !) and at 20,000 miles has only just had its first oil change. And as I said a month ago it’s doing about 63mpg without trying. Shame the Astra can’t match that. Mind you, my father has just bought a very similar Astra and he likes it !

  2. @1,Take it from me,those 20k service intervals do the cars no favours whatsoever,despite Longlife 3 spec oil,i would halve the interval if it was my own just for peace of mind,especially an engine that holds only 3.9 litres of oil.

    Most diesels have a soot algorithm written into thier ecu and along with other parameters decide when best to change the oil,so i would concur with kieth that it either had a hard life or was confined to motorways and short city drive cycles.

  3. I had an Astra Sports Tourer diesel for 8 days on a recent trip to Italy. The styling was ok, but I found the steering whilst precise, lacked any kind of feedback, combined with being nose-heavy it suffered “hide and seek” under steer as a result. Six speeds was just too many for the engine, and I constantly changed gear on the twisty roads around Lake Bolsena trying to find the right one. The cabin finish, especially interior plastic trim around the front quarter light was ugly. I thought overall, compared to the Astra H it was a step sideways, rather than forward.

    Overall, I thought it was a fine car, for 1998 perhaps.

    Just my opinion, I can understand why someone else might like it though.

  4. Ford service intervals are 12,500 miles or annually. I get mine done annually as it does under 8K per annum. Despite using modern synthetic oils I wouldn’t want to leave it in for 12K miles.

    Remember the good old days when oil changes were done at 3,000 to 6,000 miles? Hope the Astra feels refreshed after a good service and diagnostic.

  5. I’ve got a 2.0CDTI automatic hatch and it only does 27 to the gallon….. I’d love to be getting what you are!!!!

  6. Never mind claimed economy its bollocks,achieved under lab conditions with special wheel bearing grease and all the other little tricks including running a very low tank of fuel,ask yourself if a gallon of fuel weighs say 8 pounds,once the tank is full you have the weight of a small kid which will affect fuel economy,never mind open windows and aircon.
    If i get two weeks out of my golf on a tank of diesel (495 miles)im happy.

  7. We had something happen like this once. We followed a 427 Cobra through the backs out to the A12 when we had the black 25 TXI.
    The woman passenger in the Cobra kept looking back at us because she couldnt figure out how we could keep up with the Cobra which on paper was a much more powerful car – and the driver was getting more and more aggressive trying to leave us in the dust (probably dreading the other half asking him why a family car was glued to his bumper)…
    The answer was simple, my father knew that series of roads like the back of his hand, and knew the car as well. The Cobra would leave us for dead coming out of corners (when he didnt spin it up and almost hit the odd tree) but didnt know the road so his technique was about as smooth as a cobbled street and we could just about keep up. From memory I think he slammed on the anchors at every single bend between Braintree, through Wigborough, Layer and on to Easthorpe for the A12. Course he left us standing once we got to the A road.
    Which one would I take home? probably neither to be fair. I am not a fan of Vauxhalls, and I have enough experience with tank-slapping SD1’s to be more than lary about using a Daytona as a daily driver (not to mention the Gallons-to-Mile fuel consumption). Give me a Sceptre V8 or a Safrane Biturbo any day of the week, granted they’re less flashy, but they’re also less likely to kill me (and its amazing the amount of fun you can have burning BMW drivers off the lights).

  8. I have always had a soft spot for Griffins and I do like the Astra Mk6. Although, the facelifted SRi with the XP pack is very nice – better than the Focus which is almost a carbon copy (albeit not in the mechanical way).

    And now that I own my first blue oval I can see where the GM was better. Despite the press saying to the contrary, the percieved quality in the VX is a darn sight higher than the Ford. Every control feels better.

    On the open road however, nothing FWD can touch the Ford…

    Would I have a GM over the Ford? Give me a Vectra B any day! It may not handle as well as any Ford but there something reassuring about it. Something the Vectra C lacked.

    I’d love to drive a Daytona – a yellow spider has always been my dream Ferrari…

  9. I’ve carefully calculated my mpg at every fill-up in quite a few different cars over the last 10 years and unlike Francis I’ve found that most of the time with the driving I do (a good mixture of motorways, country roads and urban traffic jams), the calculated mpg has been very similar to the official ‘combined’ figures for most of the cars I’ve been driving. I must admit though I don’t flog my cars to death – my driving style is quite relaxed and without harsh acceleration, which no doubt has a big effect.

  10. Also -I’m surprised that Francis says that 20k services aren’t good for high-mileage vehicles. Surely the manufacturers have to be totally confident as they have to honour their warranties if anything goes wrong. Note that my 20k has been done in 9 months (a colleague of mine did 20k in 5 months !) and I’m sure that the service light would have come on after 12 months even if the mileage was low.

  11. @15, would you be confident driving a Corsa/Combo diesel for 20K with only 3.5 litres of oil in the sump? A Transit is 18k but with 7 litres of oil to carry the soot and carbon and has to remain in grade.A Mazda6 is 9.5k with 5l of oil and at service time you end up draining 7 litres due to fuel dilution (hence all the x’s after the full mark on dipstick).It does them no good.If you dont care its a company car fair do’s but for me personally i would always halve it,in fact i change the oil in my cars every three months regardless- i get my oil free.

  12. Is the interior rattle/creak free?

    In the sun: I have numerous creaks from the facia/doors of my Astra J hatch, reminiscent in fact of the Maestro!

    It’s a 1.6 petrol and curiously I can average the claimed (combined) 44MPG average driving mainly on A & B roads.

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