1989 Vauxhall Astra L 1.6 petrol from UK and Ireland


A scarred veteran coming to the end of its days


Shocks replaced at MOT at about 40,000 miles.

Poor running a few hundred miles later time fixed by new spark leads.

Battery draining in winter - no long runs, only local mileage - replaced with heavy duty battery and no trouble since.

Sunroof stuck at 55,000 miles - required brute force and ignorance (BFI) to open and has never been the same since - but it does work.

Water pump went mid France at about 60,000 miles - air cooled run back to London; engine did not overheat so long as in motion!

Screen washer pump went 70,000 miles - replaced from Halfords.

Clutch went mid France 75,000 miles - bad news. Cheap to replace once back home.

Horn dying - replaced from Halfords.

Base of rear wheel arches finally rusting - car hasn't been cleaned for three years.

General Comments:

Not an exiting car, but I'm a biker anyway.

Despite only getting it's annual service and no cleaning for years it has lasted well - but has now descended to a banger. It is no longer a quiet ride, rattling and banging and lurching - but what do you expect when you haven't particularly looked after it?

We've used it for local running around and fairly frequent trips to France and to the west country (from London) and it has generally stood up well, but gradually deteriorating.

So this is an obituary as I have now bought a 1998 Astra GL, and the '89 one is traded in for the scrapheap.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th July, 2002

1989 Vauxhall Astra GTE 16v 2.0L from UK and Ireland


A very quick and extremely cheap car, but watch out for the rust


Typically for the Mk2 Astra, the rear wheel arches started rotting quite badly along with the nearside sill. Both replaced at home using pattern panels.

The engine leaks oil quite badly, the actual source has been very difficult to trace.

The steering rack required a reconditioned replacement at about 100K due to leaks.

General Comments:

Although now an old car, the 16v is still very quick. The engine is quite simply the best unit Vauxhall ever made, very powerful and almost unbreakable (but do change the cam belt regularly).

Handing was never a strong point with the Mk2, but the 16v uses uprated anti-roll bars and isn't as bad as most people think. Power understeer and torque steer can be a problem, and as with any powerful FWD car, you have to use some restraint in the wet.

The interior isn't too bad apart from the horrible dashboard. Not a very refined car to drive, stiff suspension and plenty of engine noise, but a very tall 5th gear helps with motorway cruising.

Secondhand prices have fallen dramatically, you can get a very quick car for under £1000, but insurance group 15 will be a killer for young drivers.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th August, 2001

1989 Vauxhall Astra Merit 1.3 from UK and Ireland


Cheap and cheery!


Stalls first thing in morning, possibly because of a dodgy carburettor. Have to give it a few revs to get it going, then its fine.

Car got broken into because of pathetic locks. Steering wheel ripped off, (god knows why).

Had to replace some leaking fuel hoses at about 85,000 miles.

Exhaust near inlet manifold fell off at about 87,000.

Cam belt has gone at 90,000. Still waiting to fix it. (18/6/2001)

General Comments:

This is an ideal 1st car for some 17-year-old college student.

Cheap insurance, cheap parts, cheap and cheery! :)

Beware their tendency to be a tad unreliable, but like I say, you can get cheap parts from your local scrap yard for it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th June, 2001

11th Feb 2004, 06:58

I used to have a 1991 Mk2 Astra, and unfortunately it's just far too easy to break into. 30 seconds and a screwdriver is all it takes, even for someone that doesn't know what they're doing.

In terms of the reliability and economy stakes, the 1.4 litre engine (introduced in 1989, I think) is miles better than the old 1.3 litre unit, if you have a choice when you come to purchase.