The current Astra is the best yet to drive, and the most up-market. Its distinctive looks and classy Germanic cabins bring it closer to Golf than it has ever been. And it's great value.
- The best Astra yet to look at
- And the best to drive
- Good value and generously equipped
- Vauxhall badge lacks prestige of Golf
- New Focus is seen as class benchmark
- Slightly confusing model naming
The 2004 Astra is every inch a German Opel, rather than a Vauxhall. It has been designed, inside and out, to take on the class-leading Golf Mk 5, yet it's competitively priced against Focus or 307. And it feels resolutely and reassuringly Germanic in character.
Equipment levels are high, making Astra great value. Vauxhall/Opel has achieved a large step up in quality, producing a small family car that's dynamic and rewarding to drive as well as being sturdy and safe.
There's a wide choice of engines, from willing 1.4 and 1.6 petrol units to a 2.0-litre 168bhp turbo, with even sportier models to follow. And there are also excellent modern CDTI diesels. Five-door hatchbacks will be joined by three-door and estate versions; coupe-cabriolet models are expected at a later date. With a complete range - and unless new Focus is a knock-out rival - Vauxhall should have a winner here.
Need To Know
JD Power stars: 3
Best Models: 1.9 CDTi
Worst Models: 1.6 petrol
Quality & Reliability
Value for Money