This is the eighth-generation Vauxhall Astra. With its slick modern design and fully digital interior it looks like this new version of the Astra hatchback and Sports Tourer estate has managed to successfully combine this model’s traditional no-nonsense appeal with a bit of extra flair courtesy of its French- derived underpinnings, which also brings the option of electrification for the first time.
Prices for the new Vauxhall Astra have come down, with Advance Payments starting at £149 (was £699). The Astra 'GS' 130PS automatic is £599 Advance Payment. It's now £999 for the lowest-priced Astra Sports Tourer estate, down from £2399 (section updated October 2023).
For years, Vauxhall has struggled to make its Astra an engaging showroom choice in the family hatchback segment, but perhaps it's time has come. This eighth generation model is the penultimate model in the brand's line-up to move away from the platforms of previous company owner General Motors and adopt the Stellantis Group EMP2 underpinnings and engines used in similarly-sized Peugeots and Citroens. But as you can see from the pictures, it retains very much its own identity. And yes, you'd notice one in the showroom.
Which is a definite step forward from an era where an Astra was a choice you made based on price or efficiency. But very rarely on heart or desire. Yes, underneath, it's basically the same as a Peugeot 308 or a Citroen C4; but you feel here that Vauxhall is at last reinventing itself as a more interesting brand with cars like this one. Let's take a closer look.
We've never had an Astra with Stellantis Group Peugeot and Citroen-derived engines. We have now. This change, necessitated by the switch to this MK8 model's EMP2 platform, doesn't bring any particular advantages in performance or economy over the previous GM units but it does at least allow this model line to offer an electrified option. Most of the engines are of the conventional kind though; for its various brands, Stellantis hasn't bothered with mild hybrid tech you'll find on competing Ford, Mazda and VW Group models. Which means that most Astras will be sold with a three cylinder 1.2-litre petrol turbo unit - there are 110 or 130PS options. A four cylinder 1.5-litre 130PS diesel is available too. Whatever your choice, it'll come with a 6-speed manual gearbox, with an 8-speed auto an option on the 130PS models.
This Astra's electrified engine technology comes in the form of plug-in hybrid PHEV tech, mating a four cylinder 1.6-litre petrol turbo unit with a 110PS motor embedded in the 8-speed auto gearbox. There's a choice of two versions of this Plug-in Hybrid powertrain, one with a combined output of 180PS, the other fitted to the sportier GSe variants with 225PS, those GSe models featuring sharper steering and firmer, lowered suspension. Either way, expect an EAER-rated all-electric driving range of around 42 miles. Your other option is the full-EV Astra Electric, which has a 154hp motor powered by a 400-volt 54 kWh battery with a driving range of around 250 miles.
Automated driver assistance systems include adaptive cruise control, which increases or decreases speed to follow the vehicle ahead and can brake to a standstill if necessary. With the automatic transmission, driving resumes automatically thanks to a Stop & Go function. More unusual in segment terms is the availability of a head-up display and intelligent 'matrix'-style 'IntelliLux LED headlights, here with clever 'Pixel Light' technology.
Did you ever think an Astra would look like this? Present and correct in both hatch and Sports Tourer estate versions of this more striking looking eighth generation model is the 'Vizor'-style front end lately adopted for the brand's Mokka and Grandland SUVs. It's flanked by sparkling LED headlights, which at the top of the range are upgraded to 'Intellilux' status, which gives each lamp 84 individual LED elements. There are also larger wheel arches housing bigger rims of 16 to 18 inches. Size-wise, at 4,374mm long and 1,860mm wide, this MK8 Astra is fractionally longer than its predecessor, but sits 15mm lower. The Sport Tourer estate version is 268mm longer than the hatch.
It's radically different inside too, thanks to the introduction of Vauxhall's 'Pure Panel' design, which banishes buttons and is based around sophisticated 10-inch centre dash and instrument screens. Avoid base trim and your Astra will have the more sophisticated-looking 'Pure Panel Pro' arrangement, where the screen surrounds are fully-glazed. Either way, the centre monitor incorporates wireless 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring and there's a Head-up display fitted at the top of the range. There's no longer a conventional handbrake - just a small switch; and models fitted with an automatic gearbox get a sliding selector in place of the usual stick, which frees up space for extra storage and an additional cup holder. A 13mm increase in wheelbase length has improved space for rear seat passengers. And provides for a larger 422-litre cargo area, which offers an adjustable height base. The alternative Sports Tourer estate version offers 608-litres of space. With the Plug-in Hybrid versions, the respective capacity figures are 352-litres and 548-litres.
The previous seventh generation Astra had the virtue of being priced significantly under the levels of its direct competitors. Vauxhall's current owners have no interest in continuing that policy, so this MK8 model is pitched in a similar price bracket as most of its direct rivals. Obviously, there'll be a slight premium on those figures if you want the alternative Sport Tourer estate version, rather than the standard five-door hatch. To start with, rather refreshingly for a Vauxhall, there are just three trim levels on offer - 'Design', 'GS Line' and 'Ultimate' - plus performance-orientated 'GSe' variants.
With all Astra derivatives, you can expect plenty of equipment for the money, with standard features like full-LED headlights, digital instrument dials, a head-up display and standard wireless 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring for the centre dash screen. You'll now be able to specify your Astra with larger wheels - up to 18-inches in diameter - and above base trim, you get a 2-tone paint finish.
The front seats, developed in-house, are certified by the AGR (a German organisation who campaign for healthier backs) and claim to be exceedingly comfortable for long journeys. The driver is supported by state-of-the-art assistance systems ranging from the semi-automated 'Intelli-Drive' assistance system to the 'Intelli-Vision' 360-degree camera. And the brand expects the intelligent 'Intellilux' headlights to be a draw for the top-spec variants. These use state-of-the-art LED pixel lights. There's also extended traffic sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert and active lane positioning, which keeps the car in the middle of the driving lane.
The Peugeot and Citroen-derived PureTech and BlueHDi engines in use here have already proven to be extremely efficient in other Stellantis Group cars we've tried them in and of course the same is true of this Astra. Think 52.3mpg on the combined cycle and 123g/km of CO2 for both versions of the 1.2 Turbo petrol engine with manual transmission; and 58.9mpg and 127g/km of CO2 for the 1.5-litre Turbo D 130PS diesel. These figures are helped by this eighth generation Astra's relatively light weight, gained through the use of high-tech materials such as the latest thermoplastics. Low rolling resistance tyres also play their part.
Combustion engines though are soon to be no more in Vauxhalls - the brand will sell only EVs from 2028. For the time being though, the Astra's electrification is varied. Your first option lies with PHEV tech. Opt for either of the two Plug-in Hybrid variants and as we mentioned in our 'Driving Experience' section, up to 42 miles of EAER-rated battery running is claimed, while CO2 is rated at between 23 and 25g/km. From a household plug, both PHEV versions will be replenished in just over seven hours. You'll find 3.7kW single-phase charging supported as standard, which means recharges will take three hours and 50 minutes. A 7.4kW on-board charger is available as an option and plugged into a wallbox, the battery will take one hour and 50 minutes to be topped up. The plug-in hybrid Astra variants offer a thermal pre-conditioning function too.
Of course, you'll need to allow longer to charge if you choose the full-EV version of this car, the Astra Electric. This has a 400-volt battery with 50kWh of usable capacity (54kWh gross) and should go around 250 miles between charges. Those charging times hadn't been confirmed at the time of writing, but we wouldn't expect them to be much different from those of the brand's smaller Corsa Electric, which uses an older generation version of the same battery. That would mean a full charge from empty taking seven and-a-half hours. And with a public 50kW Rapid Charger, the replenishment time to charge from 15 to 80% being 45 minutes. If you're fortunate enough to find a 100kW Rapid Charger with your Astra Electric, that would fall to around 30 minutes.
This eighth generation Astra won't sell in the kinds of numbers we saw with earlier models, but that's to be expected. These are different times. And this is a very different Astra. A better one? We think those owners still loyal to this model line, not tempted away by SUVs or Korean rivals, will think so. There's just enough brand identity here to give you reasons to want one. And if the way the UK dealer network has sold the similarly-parented Corsa supermini is any guide, the value proposition might be tempting too if you're shopping around in this segment.
We thought the last versions of the previous generation model Astra were very under-rated, but they had become expensive when compared to similar models in this segment that you could lease through the Motability Scheme. This eighth-generation version gives Motability customers plenty of reasons to add the Astra back onto their shopping list of possible future cars.
People with a disability and carers who choose a new Vauxhall Astra through Motability will receive a brand new car, delivered by a Motability Specialist at a local Vauxhall dealership, complete with insurance, servicing and maintenance, full breakdown assistance, replacement tyre cover, windscreen repair or replacement cover plus a mileage allowance of 60,000 miles over three years.
This month, these Vauxhall Astra models can be ordered through the Motability Scheme: