1995 Vauxhall Astra Merit Estate 1.7 diesel from UK and Ireland
Basic, slow, reliable load lugger
Dodgy electrics - a bad earth caused by a previous owner's bodge when he changed the rear tailgate. Not really a fault of the car itself.
Front right wheel bearing needed replacing.
Front right track rod end boot cracked (replacement required for MOT).
Bought this car as we needed a large, cheap vehicle in a hurry for a holiday. It had to be able to carry 2 adults, 3 kids, a dog and all of our luggage for a week away. Diesel would be a bonus and it had to be cheap. Cosmetic condition was deemed unimportant.
It met all of these requirements. It had loads of boot space for the dog and the luggage. It cost £350 and had 6 month's MOT. The previous owner claimed to have replaced the front suspension, the exhaust (the back box certainly looked new though it was blowing at the manifold), the brake pipes and the fuel tank. He'd also changed the tailgate as he'd managed to break the rear window - unfortunately while the car was blue, the tailgate was now white.
Okay so it looked ugly. You couldn't see that from the driver's seat and nobody was ever going to steal the thing!
It did the job lugging us, the kids and the dog all over Scotland for a summer with few real problems. The boot's huge and the roof rails (fitted as standard) came in handy transporting large fence panels home from B&Q.
Being non turbo, it's a slow car (it may seem slower to me as I usually ride a 900cc motorbike and have always owned petrol cars before). It reminded me of driving an old series 3 landrover in many ways! It returns good economy, getting 450+ miles a tankful (about 1 mile per litre, whatever that is in mpg). It's basic (no electric windows, power steering or central locking) though arguably that's less to go wrong. It's noisy, smoky and upsets the neighbours too, which wins it plus points in my book! Scrap yards are full of astras which makes finding parts cheap and easy.
MOT time came and it needed a new windscreen, track rod ends and a few minor bits of work. Given the cost of all of this I've decided to get rid of the car and buy a slightly less 'cosmetically challenged' replacement. I would however happily go for an astra estate again.
As one of my (bmw driving) colleagues commented when I pulled up at work in it, "That looks like a great festival car!".
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 9th October, 2006