It may well have been crowned European Car of the Year for 2016, but has the new Astra been designed to thrill or exhilarate? Sadly not, it lacks any real feedback and has very safe handling characteristics that don’t allow for any adjustability. However, the Astra has elements that do feel very well judged. The most powerful engine available not only makes the Astra surprisingly quick, but it’s also a pleasure to rev. It’s also very comfortable as the ride is exceptional, and the controls are well positioned to suit spirited driving, too.
Its attributes may not add up to make the new Astra the most exciting car, but it’s the best base Astra we’ve tried and it has certainly made us eagerly anticipate the VXR version.
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Don’t go for the optional 18” wheels. Stick with the smaller 17s as they help create the luxurious, comfortable ride. That may not sound particularly thrilling, but the Astra isn’t the most sporty or direct handling car so it might as well ride nicely instead.
‘The new Astra isn’t a bad car but it isn’t a particularly memorable car to drive either. What is encouraging is the feeling of lightness and compactness, which are excellent starting points for future hotter versions. Pop a sportier petrol engine under the bonnet, tweak the springs and dampers and you might have a rather good hot hatch.’ Henry Catchpole