Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 2016 review
Vauxhall’s updated Astra Sports Tourer has been eagerly awaited since it was unveiled to the public at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in June 2015. A sportier member of Vauxhall’s Astra range, the latest-generation Astra Sports Tourer will be a great option for families and households that need extra cargo capacity combined with a good drive. So, let’s see how it stacks up.
Viewed from the front, it would take a sharp eye to spot the difference between the Astra Sports Tourer and the latest Astra. The wide chrome grille and slanted LED headlights mesh into a road-loving grin. A ridged parallelogram – a bit like a shark’s fin – borders the fog lights, and a secondary air intake completes the visage.
From the rear, the car more closely resembles a hatchback, with the brake light shifted onto the spoiler and the number plate raised from bumper to boot lid. The boot itself hides a few surprises, with drivers able to opt for the inclusion of a new hands-free automatic tailgate, a feature that can be controlled from a pedal under the rear bumper.
As usual for an estate model, the side aspect is where most differences can be seen. The roofline arches gradually over the rear third of the car, highlighted by a curved window line that’s framed by a chrome strip. Below, each side has two pinched creases in the panelling, while blacked-out B and C-pillars gives the slick appearance of seamless glass.
Vauxhall have included almost as many spec levels as actual nuts and bolts, with a range that features everything from the base level Expression, up through the Design, Excite, Limited Edition, Tech Line, Tech Line GT, Sri, BiTurbo and Elite. Finding the model that offers the greatest value is something of a balancing act, but the Tech Line is a good shout, featuring a Bluetooth infotainment and alloy wheels without breaking the bank.
Vauxhall have created a bit of a Tardis with the Astra Sports Tourer, eking out an extra 26mm and 28mm in headroom for front and rear-seat passengers respectively without increasing the size of the bodywork from the outgoing version. Overall boot capacity is up on the previous incarnation too, growing from 1,550-litres to 1,630-litres (when rear seats are folded forward).
Seating in the new Astra Sports Tourer has been streamlined to become supportive yet comfortable with a whole host of positioning options. The rest of the cabin looks busier, with plenty of switches and dials to stay in control of all the added features and Vauxhall’s advanced OnStar personal concierge service. This gives drivers the ability to synchronise with 4G connectivity and use either Apple’s CarPlay or Android’s Auto system. Thankfully, the driver controls (especially the speedometer) have been kept simple and centrally positioned.
On the road
The engine options on the Astra Sports Tourer – the same as on the hatchback Astra – have huge scope in terms of potency, cranking from 98bhp all the way up to 197bhp. The range features the new 1.4-litre Turbo and 1.6-litre Whisper Diesel, though it’s not yet clear whether Vauxhall will also include the ultra-efficient 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine in time. All of the engines give a decent nod to the car’s ‘Sports’ tag, but the 1.6 CDTi 110 Ecoflex is undoubtedly the stand out performer.
The car is 200kg lighter than its predecessor, making it nimbler when cornering as well as reducing emissions and increasing fuel economy. And, while suspension has been shored up to match the car’s mile-munching momentum, the Astra Sports Tourer remains relatively comfortable when driven on poor road surfaces.
The Astra has long been associated with fleet cars for the business market, so it’s hardly a surprise to find a number of the engine options fit within the golden 100g/km emissions barrier, guaranteeing fleet car drivers a lower tax rate. A direct rival to the emissions rates of competitors like the Ford Focus, the diesel engines on the Astra Sports Tourer average over 75mpg.
The ‘Sports Tourer’ could also have been called the ‘Practical Tourer’: Vauxhall have taken the best bits of popular models such as the conventional Astra and Corsa to create something that meets all a family’s needs for capacity, functionality and costs, but that still drives well.
The latest offering will give the class-leading Focus a real run for its money, and if Vauxhall choose to bring in some popular engines, then the Ford could have real competition. And, with a 3-year, 60,000-mile warranty and 5-star Euro NCAP rating on top of all the versatility that comes with a small estate, the Astra Sports Tourer has plenty of appeal to draw new car buyers.