First Drive : All-new Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.6 SRi

Vauxhall’s new Astra scooped the 2016 European Car of the Year title earlier this month but does the just-launched Sports Tourer version really justify its name?

Mike Humble shares his views on this important new British-built Vauxhall…

With a range of engines from a 103bhp 1.0-litre to a 197bhp 1.6-litre, the all-new Astra
Sports Tourer is as good and enjoyable as the award-winning hatch – it’s British made, too!

Sports Tourer: that seems to be the new term for an estate car these days, though quite a few fail to conjure up any accent on the actual sporty bit. This new Astra, which rides on the success of the hatchback’s 2016 European Car of the Year award, is roomier, lighter and, in most cases, cheaper than the outgoing model which itself wasn’t a bad motor at all. So does this all-new five seater holdall impress in the same manner its award-winning sibling?

Absolutely, yes. There’s a range of super-efficient diesel and petrol power units on offer from a 1.0-litre turbo to a 1.6-litre 16v petrol turbo that squirts out a healthy 197bhp. We drove that version and came away very impressed indeed. In SRi trim, the Astra seemed well equipped and had a chassis that was every inch as well engineered as its fellow five-door models. The ride, which edges slightly on the firm side at lower speeds, balances out to become very smooth and sorted once the pace quickens and boy… it’s smooth!

Performance from the 1.6-litre turbo is what we’d describe as brisk, with a solid belt of torque from just below 1500rpm. Even in sixth gear pulling up the long climb from Luton Airport to the M1 at Junction 10, the car just pulls from its boots and brushed everything aside. Around town, the effortless and refined power delivery, light clutch, good brakes and sweet gear change make for soothing and enjoyable progress. See a sneaky gap at a roundabout? No problem – you point and fire and you’re away.

As a family hack there’s ample room for people or packages thanks to more head, leg and cargo space than the previous model despite the external dimensions being the same. The overall build quality is very impressive and the paint finish was exceptional. Vauxhall really is nailing a car together as well as the main class rivals like the Civic Tourer or Focus – it’s almost as rustic in feel as a Golf. Fuel economy and spirited handling are also very good indeed, but what’s really nice to know is that this body shape is uniquely assembled here at Ellesmere Port regardless of the country of sale.

More room for people and parcels than the old model despite the external dimensions being
the same. We like the twin-exhaust treatment and razor-sharp chassis.
A very fine and able car in all areas…

Some things are not so sweet, though. We don’t like the chunky, over-sized gear lever, at low speeds the steering is just a snitch too light and the column stalks could have a better damped feel, as could the driver’s pop down trinket tray in the lower dash. It feels really cheap and nasty. But, as a car in general? Well, to repeat what we have said before, it’s much, much more than the best Astra ever.

From also ran to front runner, it’s about time Vauxhall had a product that re-defines comfort and safety not to mention giving Uncle Henry and the Germans a bloody nose into the bargain. We’ll be spending a bit more time with the Astra Sports Tourer in the not-too-distant future, so we’ll let you know how it fares.

Mike Humble


  1. This range of cars have really come on from the indifferent and not very reliable Astras from the nineties and early noughties. I’m pleased to see the last of the old big four to still make cars here has produced a very competent and refined car. It’s a big achievement for Vauxhall to make a car that is up there with the Golf and has the traditional Vauxhall attributes of reasonable running costs and decent prices.

  2. What a great car. It’s red ! If only it was built in Longbridge with an MG badge, two doors and no roof. Oh, hang on “traditional Vauxhall”, ooooops, my 60s Viva was ummm, yeah, economical.

  3. @ Geoff Ellis, also the Viva name has been revived on a city car. I do wish, though, Vauxhall would launch another model range in Britain like the Insignia.

  4. These “medium” estates are quite traditional, in that they seem to be genuinely designed to be roomy, but without the jacked up SUV or MPV styling of the crossovers and without the sloping rear windows of many larger “premium” estates

  5. Hi Mike is the predictive text playing up or am I out of date with modern words. I thought rustic described a Morris Minor Traveller not a Volkswagen Golf. Nice to see Vauxhall are getting genuine good press these days rather than ‘OK but not quite good enough’

  6. Nice looking version of the new Astra. These days I seem to find that Estate Tourer versions of cars like the Focus, Astra, Auris, Civic etc look as nice or nicer than their Hatch equivalents. This seems no exception. That 1.6 197 bhp engine sounds like it has much more power than you’ll ever need too.

  7. Rustic? That’s a 30 year-old Land Rover Defender with mud all over it.

    This does seem to be an all round good car.

    I agree with maestrowoof. These days, estate cars are less expensive than similarly sized SUV/crossovers and do everything as well, unless you need extra ground clearance for some reason.

    This doesn’t take anything away form Nissan’s Qashqai marketing masterstroke, to add some bigger wheels and jacked up suspension to a standard hatchback. I’m just saying that if you want value for money, an estate is a better buy than a crossover.

  8. Nice looking car, problem is that reliability is dreadful on modern Vauxhalls (Opels) and even the dealers are sick of them (I know a technician that work at a local dealership), also, Vauxhalls have an awful reputation for being driven by idiots and council-estate chavs, as well as being a more-than-common Motability car choice…

  9. Good to know that the age of snobbery is not yet dead . Also, I count myself lucky that I am not eligible for a Motability scheme

  10. Given that “premium” German brands are now more common on UK roads Vauxhall/Opel really has a Image problem despite how well they are nailed together.

  11. @ Steven McGill, what on gods earth do you base your opinion on? I’m a Vauxhall driver atm and I’m neither an idiot, council estate chav or on motability. As for reliability, me and the Mrs both currently drive vauxhalls and admittedly not overly exciting or dynamic, appear the be utterly reliable. Hers is fast approaching 100,000 miles and (touch wood) just NEVER puts a foot out of bed.

  12. @ Andy, the current Vauxhalls are actually quite nice cars, far better than the Vectras, Astras and Corsas from 20 years ago. I’d buy one, but for the fact Bristol Street Motoes, who are fairly useless, sell them locally.

  13. Although I’ve only ever owned one Vauxhall (Viva HC) my Dad had two (Victor & VX 4/90). I guess I’ll always have a soft spot for them as the Victor was his first car in the 60’s. As mentioned earlier that 1.6 Turbo engine on this Astra SRi would do for me.

  14. Vauxhalls driven by council estate chavs?
    Indeed. Usually an old Vectra with wide wheels (with bald tyres), and a dodgy looking driver with fag in hand. Eastern European accent optional.

  15. I spent most of the 1980s tooling round in Vauxhalls, 2 Astras, 2 Novas and in the early 90s a Cavalier. They were all good cars but then Vauxhall lost it’s was with the awful, stodgy Vectra Mk1. Who would have believed that you could have turned the class leading Cavalier Mk3 into a complete dog overnight?

    I have has several Vauxhalls on hire since, mainly Vectras plus odd recent Insignia. I also looked at buying an Astra Estate in 2012 until stupidly entering an Arnold Clark dealership…..

    I really like the new Astra (electronic handbrake apart) and will certainly look at one when I’m due for a change. They make excellent sense at 12 months old when someone else has had the worst of the depreciation.

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