Advantages Performance, spec, reasonable insurance
Disadvantages Some think the looks are too conservative
Please humour me as what I am going to do here is actually a review of the Astra 2.0 SRi 16v, but hopefully you will still find it useful. This is the model I have and Ciao don’t seem to have included it on their list of Astras so I’m sticking it under the 2.2 ok?!! Anyway it is basically the same car as the 2.2, just with an ever so slightly smaller engine.I purchased my Astra SRi about a year ago. This was from a Vauxhall dealer I found in Slough after doing a used car search on Vauxhall’s very helpful website. I had decided on the Astra as both the Golf GTi and Peugeot 206 GTi had very similar performance as the Astra but much higher insurance groups. (The Astra 2.0 SRi is Group 11).
The price of £11,000 I thought was quite reasonable for a sports model that was just over a year old and only had 8,000 miles on the clock.I found the staff at the dealership to be very helpful and they even gave me £350 for my rusty old 1991 Metro GTA on a trade in which was nice!
Anyway onto the car…You get a very decent spec with this model. Firstly you get a nice 2.0 litre, fuel injected, 16v, twin cam engine which develops around 138 bhp. The interior of the car is sensible rather than flashy but is also well equiped. You get a CD player, comfortable and fully adjustable sports seats, air conditioning, electric windows, twin air bags, front fog lights and nice white sports dials on the dashboard. Also there is a neat little switch which allows you to turn on and off the traction control. It gets a bit hairy with the TC off so I tend to keep it switched on!
This model is fitted with alloy wheels, shod with Michelin rubber and all round disk brakes, assisted by ABS and these are very effective at bringing the car to a halt!How does it drive then? Well compared to the smaller hot hatches I have driven like the Metro GTA and Peugeot 205 GTi, this car feels a lot safer but perhaps the handling is not quite as involved, seeing as how the car is larger and heavier than those previously mentioned models. The acceleration is swift rather than brutal, 60mph is achieved in 8.5 seconds and the car tops out at 135mph.
The engine is smooth and has plenty of torque. However, as with most GTi’s you have to push it above 4,000rpm to get it to really work. Below this level it can tend to be rather too polite.The ride on this car is slightly harder than normal, seeing as how the suspension has been tuned for the extra performance of the engine. It is still pretty good at absorbing the bumps over rough surfaces though.
I have been impressed with the gearbox on this Astra. It is extremely flexible which makes town driving a doddle. I have driven an Escort 1.8 Si which would complain if you put it in 4th gear at anything around 30mph. The Astra on the other hand is quite happy to be in 4th at this speed, which is good considering at times my gear changing can be rather eccentric!I have so far driven about 5,000 miles in this car and have found it to be swift and reliable. However, the car can be thirsty for fuel, especially when driven hard. The £10 in petrol I used to throw in my old metro once a week doesn’t last very long in this Astra!! This I guess is the price you pay for the GTi performance and the extra weight added to modern cars by the safety features.
One piece of criticism that has been leveled at the Astra is the styling. Some have complained that is it too conservative and looks too much like the Vectra. I would tend to agree if this criticism is directed at the lower models, but I feel that when in the in the SRi guise, the larger alloy wheels, fog lights and rear spoiler make this is Astra a much more eye catching car!Seeing as this car could be a target for the joy riders, security is well catered for, with an immobiliser, alarm, deadlocks all fitted as standard.
In conclusion then if you are after a sporty hatchback with GTi performance, then the Astra 2.0 SRi is well worth considering. I am very pleased that I purchased this car and am looking forward to driving it for a few more years. The realistic insurance group means that it is also not going to cost the earth to insure either!!Thanks for reading!
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