2016 Vauxhall Astra review – new Astra is best yet, but can it excite? - Engine and gearbox

With an excellent engine and an outstanding ride the new Astra has some great attributes, but sadly it isn’t a drivers’ car

Evo rating
Price
from £15,295
  • Great engine, unexpectedly fast and feels well built
  • Overall, just not very exciting

Engine and gearbox

The engine can make or break the Astra. The 3 cylinder petrol unit is rather mediocre. It’s more capable than its 1ltr capacity suggests, but it makes the Astra feel heavy and cumbersome. Considering this Astra is 200kgs lighter than its predecessor, it’s a shame not to feel that.

Of the petrol engines, the 1.6ltr four-cylinder turbo is the pick of the bunch. Lower in the rev range it’s quiet and refined, but there’s a healthy amount of low down torque. It makes achieving high speeds effortless, and therefore, rather surprising.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

Really work it, rev it beyond 5000rpm, and that’s when you experience its best asset. There’s a hard-edged timbre to the noise it makes in the last 1250rpm. The power delivery seems to tail off slightly at the last few hundred revs, but there’s real pleasure in taking it right to the engine’s rev limiter.

Annoyingly, especially as you’re revelling in the noise, the limiter kicks in at 6250rpm. That seems too low. What’s even worse is that the redline on the tacho doesn’t start until 6500. So you expect another 250rpm, and you feel cheated out of more of the screaming, sonorous Astra 4 cylinder. No really, you do.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The gear ratios are a bit too far apart; the revs drop significantly between each gear. The gear change is smooth and free to move with no obstructions. The gate is clear and well defined so you can confidently make quick gear changes, which means you needn’t loose any more revs than you have to.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/bmw/m2/202954/bmw-m2-cs-2020-review-plenty-to-worry-a-porsche-cayman-gt4
BMW M2

BMW M2 CS 2020 review – there's plenty to worry a Porsche Cayman GT4

The most enjoyable and rewarding M car to drive for quite some time. Potentially, a future classic.
31 Jul 2020
Visit/ford/202957/mountune-ford-focus-rs-m520-2020-review-less-hot-hatch-more-throwback-to-group-b
Ford Focus RS

Mountune Ford Focus RS M520 2020 review – less hot hatch, more Group B throwback

The idea of a 500-horse Focus won’t be for everyone, but for the rest it’s a glorious dose of internal combustion madness
31 Jul 2020
Visit/features/202947/bmw-m3-gts-vs-mini-gp-vs-renault-sport-megane-r26r
Features

BMW M3 GTS vs Mini GP vs Renault Sport Mégane R26.R

You could spend £250,000 on a 700bhp hardcore machine, but is there just as much fun to be had – if not more – with less power and for less outlay?
1 Aug 2020
Visit/news/18773/uk-speeding-fines-2020-what-are-the-latest-penalties-for-drivers
News

UK speeding fines explained

Speeding fines were increased in spring 2017, with harsher penalties for the worst offenders. Here's everything you need to know...
27 Jul 2020