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This review is based on my experience of using the Vauxhall Astra each week for regular motorway journeys down South every week for work. The Vauxhall Astra has been said to have been developed to offer technical sophistication and exceptional comfort, I wonder if my review will agree with that…read on if you wish to find out.
*~*~Exterior Appearance~*~* The Astra SRi looks tasty I am definitely not a fan of the Vauxhall's but even I have to admit this model is a pretty attractive car. The model I am reviewing is the 3 door hatchback complete with a sleek spoiler, body colour bumpers, mirrors and tinted glass. My absolute pet hate is the black plastic on the Vauxhalls and the SRi has definitely skipped on this. The standard black trim on the car is replaced with colour coded trim which gives it a much sexier appearance. Front fog lights are another sporty feature to the car which no doubt will be used in the incorrect manner, i.e. when it is not foggy. The spoiler comes pretty low down on the rear window so although it looks good it is also a fairly good obstruction as well. The car is fitted with 17" alloy wheels that are pretty decent and come complete with locking nuts, in their own little case rather than just thrown in the glove compartment.
Rating of Exterior Features 8/10 Its svelte looks, sporty engine line-up and attractive styling means it has the indulgent feel of a coupe.
*~*~Interior Appearance~*~* On all other Vauxhalls I have ever driven or seen the majority have been let down with the interior, now based on the exterior alone I would purchase one of these cars a nice size and a good engine size, but the interior does that definitely generate a sale…..erm sadly not. Inside the car, on first impressions it does look good the roof is a really dark grey which gives you the feeling that the car is a lot smaller than it is, the black interior is also a contributing factor to that however it still looks really cool and I like the look of it. The drivers controls are basic even on this model height adjustable seat, in my experience this is a common feature on all new cars as I know my base model fiesta has this and the SRi being one of the cars in the top end of the range I thought it would come with the thigh support with the professional looking booking seats but no this is another additional extra, one freebie that Vauxhall have kindly added in has to be the lumbar support for the driver seat, how kind, shame they didn't put some padding in there so that they are less uncomfortable. When you have a brand new car you do expect it to be better than older cars, this car is not, the seat is very hard and the bucket seats for the front passengers are very firm and I imagine could get very easily worn with much use getting in and out of the car. The Driver has instrument panel light dimmer so that they can alter the brightness of the lights on the dashboard this is controlled by a small wheel to the right of the driver next to the steering column. Rev counter and odometer are also on the car, which again is nothing great to boast about its all standard features. The Astra Sri does have a small computer built in which has trip information great if you have to measure your mileage on the journeys;
Pictures of Vauxhall Astra 1.8i 16v
The Sri from the front
it calculates the interior/exterior temperature ok not need to have features but fairly handy I suppose. The trip computer does tell you how many miles you have travelled and a lot of other information that is not what I call a useful feature the money would've been better spent on some better seating. The dash is standard black plastic and nothing different from any other model that I have seen before, there is some silver trim present on the ventilation side of the doors and the stereo in the centre consol and some of the instrument panel is also finished off with the silver trim but its nothing impressive. The silver trim that runs along the top of the doors would've been better remaining black and maybe adding the colour to the door handles and locks rather than the rather cheap plastic trim to the front of the car. In my opinion the interior of this really stylish car makes it "nothing special" and I am back to my original opinion that with Vauxhall's you really don't get much for your money. The instruments are clear and are surrounded with a brushed aluminium bezel, which when lights are on light up orange which is clearly visible on the black background.A large display screen in the centre of the dash gives audio, climate control and trip computer information. It is a bit difficult to master. A neat touch is Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL), fitted to every model. AFL is bi-xenon headlamps that move with the steering direction, to give better illumination around corners great if you find it difficult driving on unlit backroads. On the motorway or at high speeds, the light beam is raised by 15 degrees to provide better lighting.
Rating of Interior Appearance 4/10 This is based on the cheap look which really brings the quality of the vehicle down, this is one of the top spec models yet inside is no different to a base model a lot lower in price.
*~*~Entertainment Features~*~* The Sri comes with a CD player, again a pretty basic feature for such a top end model surely I would've thought a multi-disc would've been a nice feature for the customer paying out all this money but no such look. The stereo system is nothing special its plain, its boring, the remote control on the steering wheel gives you something to play with during the journey, changing tracks, radio stations and adjusting the volume. The simple controls show that not much money has been spent on this facility and again contributes to the poor standard of the interior.
Rating of Entertainment Features 2/10 Very poor, I would expect something a bit more upmarket than the same stereo that is present in other models and the only difference being that it is in the brushed aluminium colour, I would not be impressed if I bought this car and it had the same interior as Bob next door with a model that cost him £5000 less!
*~*~Seating and Comfort~*~* I know I have briefly touched on this on the interior appearance of the Sri but I do feel it needs a bit more explanation and of course a rating. If you go and look at one of these in the Vauxhall Showroom I guarantee the interior will look great, for the first 5 minutes of sitting in the seats I loved them but then I got the wriggles, the back began to feel uncomfortable and my bottom started to ache from the lack of padding. The rear seat has half the thickness of my little fiesta and I was shocked to see that the actual width of the cushion was only about 40mm!!! Great sports seats but not so great comfort. At the front of the vehicle located on either side of the courtesy light are reading lights which are there for comfort of the passengers. The sports pedals are a great feature to have if a sporty car is your thing, I admit they look stylish and could be the most expensive item in the interior of this Vauxhall Astra, the distance between the pedals is pretty good even for those with big feet. The steering column is easily adjustable for rake and reaches and can be set up perfectly for you, so you get the maximum comfort when driving. The wing mirrors are electrically adjustable, operated from the Drivers side via the touch of a button. Simple so no awkward twisting of the body to look at those blind spots as they can be adjusted easily.
Rating of Seating and Comfort 4/10 Very poor and think Vauxhall could do a lot more to improve this.
*~*~Heating and Ventilation~*~* Air conditioning is a must for both my partner and I as we suffer from Hay fever so its always a bonus when it is included in the vehicle. The control has a 4 speed fan and contains an interior pollen filter ideal for hay fever sufferers. As with all cars the vents are located next to the doors and in the centre console of the vehicle and are easily adjustable, these are finished off in the silver trip an added feature of the Sri. The control panels are simple and easy to operate with a chunky knob to control the temperature.
Rating of Heating and ventilation 5/10 Easy to use controls and quick heating / cooling of the vehicle.
*~*~Safety and Security~*~* Vauxhall I have to admit are pretty good on this area. The SRi is fitted with remote control deadlocking which covers doors, tailgate and fuel filler cap. The remote control is operated by two buttons one which opens and one which locks simple. Inside the vehicle there is a central locking switch located on the centre console and this will lock the doors from the inside of the vehicle, deactivated by pressing the button and pulling the door handle to exit. Vauxhall have fitted electronic theft protection for the audio equipment but in my opinion it would be a great advantage if someone wanted that monstrosity. One feature that may be useful to the more forgetful person was the audible alert when the key is left in the ignition but a bit of a pain if you leave it in the ignition with a passenger in the car! The remote control has a range of 3 metres and operates from indoors, which in my opinion is ideal when the alarm is going off and you can see the car from inside and its raining, a great feature is the auto lock facility that if no doors have been opened after 5 minutes of the car being unlocked then the car will simply lock once more. The alarm system monitors the doors, luggage compartment, bonnet, vehicle tilt, ignition and the passenger compartment so with this car you get some peace of mind.
Dual front, side and curtain airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and Active Head Restraints, which reduce the risk of whiplash, ensure that should you be involved in an accident you will have more measures in place to reduce the result of injury.
Rating of Safety and Security 8/10 This car is probably one of the safest on the roads and made me that little bit more confident in the car on the road.
*~*~Driving the Car~*~* Okay so finally we get to the bit that matters most the performance of the car and to talk about "THE" button. The sports button is what makes this car attractive to me again, it does this by improving the control and handling on the road as it does stick to the road making it a lot more responsive to any controls issued to it, the suspension stiffened and sports springs and dampers have been fitted to give a sportier drive. The car is confident through corners and suffers very little body roll. As the majority of my journeys in the car are on motorways I really test the car out and its not at all sluggish but the sport button doesn't make it go faster so its not all that magic and I realize I've got the wrong model!. The brakes are responsive and react well when a sudden stop is required. This car is the 1.8i with 125 bhp not to fast but fast enough and is still fairly economical with the fuel with 35 miles to the gallon. With regards to visibility on first appearance this car would seem to be pretty restrictive and as the driver you wouldn't be wrong despite forward visibility being good, the chunky windscreen pillars can be obstructive when pulling out of T-junctions and sharp corners and it's difficult to see out of the rear screen when the car's fully loaded as the spoiler does come pretty far down the rear screen and when I reversed out of our drive in the cul de sac didn't even see the young girl fly behind the car in a scooter, not a great result in terms of visibility. The electro-hydraulic power steering is map controlled which means that the cars speed and the rate at which the steering wheel is turned determines the level of power assistance and results in superbly weighted steering that is direct and precise. The turning circle is 10.55m (34.6ft). The SRi model is also equipped with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Electronic Stability Programme-plus (ESP-plus) and 'Sports' driving mode switch which are designed to assist the driver in maintaining control during acceleration, cornering and avoidance manoeuvres ensuring that the Vauxhall Astra SRi is safe and surefooted.
Rating of the Driving 7/10
*~*~Summary~*~* In my opinion this car looks better than it actually is although it is packed with safety features and great styling there is a serious lack of comfort and the styling has reduced the visibility of the drive. For rear passengers it is extremely difficult to exit the car with the sloping roof and there is not too much legroom. I think this car is suited for the younger generation with no children or an older couple as although the capacity is for 5 passengers I would hate to have to go on a long journey and be stuck in the rear seats. Boot space is pretty good and when the seats are folded there is enough room to fit a good few boxes in as our trip to Ikea proved.
Overall the car is good to drive and looks good, if you like features and a sexy interior then this car is not for you.
The car comes in a range of engine sizes and believe me Vauxhall have plenty of added extras that can be put on your package to increase the price, bought for new from £16,000 for the Sri model and after about 3 years you can expect the car to be worth around £6500 if you think this cars worth it go for it and prove me wrong with the comments as I am not convinced.
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