1996 Vauxhall Astra GLS 1.6 16v from UK and Ireland


Excellent all rounder


Rusty exhaust, easily fixed.

CAT needed replacing after 40,000 miles, but it was done under warranty.

General Comments:

1.6 16v engine is quick and it is basically an Astra Sport with a grey interior instead of black.

Good handling and a K&N filter has seriously helped responsiveness. Can see off all these poxy Saxo VTR's etc no problems.

Plenty of luxury (electric windows, electric heated mirrors, central locking).

Overall a very good car for a 19 year old like myself who can't stretch to the insurance on a GSi or similar.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th February, 2001

8th Aug 2001, 13:12

HI, I need to squeeze a little more out of my Astra 1.6 16 V. Is there anything I can do. I am talking about overall performance not just power. Mail me at trebz50@hotmail.com.

1996 Vauxhall Astra Merit 1.4 Hi-Torq from UK and Ireland


Slower than a dead snail


Blown head gasket due to an exhaust blockage (within first 5,000 miles).

Burst oil pump housing gasket resulting in £20 worth of oil being wasted trying to get the car home (around 15,000 miles).

Off-centre steering wheel, resulting in its replacement (although I'm not sure why).

Handbrake shoes jamming on if left parked overnight.

Burst exhaust centre pipe at 20000 miles.

General Comments:

Painfully slow. Notchy gearbox. Laden with flat spots. Put me off Vauxhalls.

Still in the family and since I sold it to my parents, it has had two new track rod ends, front anti-roll bar bushes and a £180 bill for the first MOT. Not nearly as well built as our previous Vauxhalls.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 24th June, 2000

5th Feb 2003, 08:07

Let this be a lesson to those of us who don't bother with a test-drive before buying a car. Incidentally, I owned one of these; never had a problem with it. Actually it was quite easy to live with, this fella must have got a lemon.

13th Feb 2003, 08:24

I got to admit the slow part is true, but when i`m on a motorway it seems to be fine, fingers crossed. I got 'N' plate merit and only done 51,000 so at the minute its so far so good. I have the same trouble with the handbrake. is there a way of curing this???

30th Mar 2008, 17:16

The handbrake did the same on my M reg Astra.

And it has had new front shock absorbers and master cylinder.

The handbrake problem was cured by giving it some revs while its off and it will release, but it can't be doing it much good. it doesn't cure it permanently and nothing showed up on its numerous MOT's.

1996 Vauxhall Astra Sport 3dr 2.0 16V petrol from UK and Ireland


Exhaust manifold heatshield fell off, manifold replaced under warranty.

Passenger seat catch needed adjustment.

Steering pump leaked, replaced under warranty.

Coolant leak required need head gasket (at 60,000 miles), replaced under warranty.

Got through first set of front pads, discs and tyres quickly, before a day on Donnington race track improved my driving style!!!

General Comments:

Very quick, but quite docile in traffic and very practical. Lots of torque, so very flexible. Can pull 30mph in 1st, 60mph in 2nd, 90mph in 3rd, excellent for overtaking! Steering is up to the power with tight turn-in, great on country roads. Can be a handful with low grip on cold tyres/roads but has good feedback and feel so no surprises. Pity the new model is not built this way!!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 22nd January, 2000

1996 Vauxhall Astra LSi 1.4 82ps from UK and Ireland


Vauxhall checked the front suspension subframes. New modded ones were already fitted to my car, but I would still advise other owners not to jack the car on these components, whatever the type fitted (use the designed jacking points).

Vauxhall also consulted over which cambelt tensioner pulley was fitted to this 14SE engine, as the more brittle one can fail prematurely with the same engine damage as if the cambelt had failed. I believe this is not restricted to GM cars either.

General Comments:

Good engine for a 1.4; the torquey 82bhp version cruises nicely on the motorway, but gives good MPG when driven sensibly. The multi-point injection means there is driveability there, and the mk3 suspension was improved in the 95/96 car, but it does under steer in hard cornering.

Grip is good though from 175/14s, and quality has taken a huge leap from the mk2 that I owned; the power steering is good, RDS stereo, electric windows are a nice touch, and the electrically adjustable headlights are useful when carrying luggage to stop other drivers flashing headlights at you.

I especially liked the deadlocks fitted with the central locking, and the immobiliser. However I did have to buy a new Stoplock (Stoplock Pro) capable of fitting around the airbag, and when fitted it prevented the steering lock from engaging. The new mk4 model should mean these cars become cheaper to buy secondhand.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th August, 1999