Vauxhall Astra 2022 review | Autocar

Vauxhall Astra 2022 review | Autocar

A major effort has been made to simplify the Astra’s derivative line-up this time around, in order to present a showroom proposition that’s easier to understand. If you want a conventional combustion engine, you can have a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol three-pot with either 109bhp or 129bhp, or a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel with 129bhp. Or you can have a newfangled petrol-electric plug-in hybrid with either 177bhp or 221bhp; or, if you prefer, you can wait until 2023 for the fully electric version. 

Technically, all Astras combine strut-type independent front suspension with a torsion beam rear axle, and all will be front-wheel drive. Not so technically, the car will be offered in just three trim levels: Design, GS Line and Ultimate. 

Just as when looking at the exterior, you know you’re in something different here as you slide into the car’s lower-cradled driving position, and across in front of a widely digitised fascia that seeks to put this car right back into contention with the very best in class for electronic, touchscreen sophistication. 

There’s less good news in the second row, though. Vauxhall may have extended this car’s wheelbase, but the net effect of lowering its roofline and making its seating position more recumbent is definitely to the detriment of second-row passenger space. The outgoing Astra was among the roomier cars in its class for adults travelling in the back, but if you’re taller than six foot, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll feel a bit short-changed for both second-row head room and leg room (latterly depending on who you’re travelling behind) in the new one. From Vauxhall, especially, it would feel like a damning admission to simply argue: “Oh, well. People who need the space will just buy a crossover, won’t they?” Clearly, they shouldn’t have to. Good packaging used to be a Vauxhall strength.

Up front, the impact of Vauxhall’s notable move upmarket with this car is more positive. The instruments and infotainment display are presented side by side within a curved, glossy black console. Vauxhall calls it the ‘Pure Panel’, and although we were able to test the only basic configuration of it (twin 10.0in colour screens combined slightly simplistically in a black plastic surround), we understand that both mid- and upper-spec Astras will get a sleeker-looking take with a continuous surface and a more appealing magnesium frame. For those who want to feel like they’re driving some gigantic, tonne-and-a-half smartphone rather than a car, it should have the desired effect.