2002 Vauxhall Astra SXi 1.8 16v petrol from UK and Ireland


Better than I was expecting


Squealing brakes (fixed under warranty)

ECU warning light came on once, went off again and has never re-appeared. Dealers says all is well.

General Comments:

Much better than I was expecting. I had a 306 XSi before this as a company car, which I totally loved, and was dismayed when our fleet guy did some deal with Vauxhall and we ended up with these.

But I'm pleased to say I worried too much. No, the Astra doesn't handle anywhere near as well as the 306 did, but it ain't half bad. The absolute worst thing about the car is its steering, which is overassisted, lifeless and lacking any form of feel. Through constant changes in weighting and movement, the 306's steering told you instantly how much or how little grip was at the front wheels, what the road surface was like, but the Astra just provides the fingertips with the same rubbery, finger tip light numbness whether you're stationary or doing 100 mph round a tightening sweeper.

That said, 100 mph around a tightening sweeper is more than you'd try in a Vectra or old shape Astra, and this Astra does turn in well and it grips strongly. It won't allow you to adjust your line on the throttle or play the sideways hooligan like the 306 did though, and it doesn't ride as well, but that said it is a competent enough machine which does pretty much everything that could reasonably be asked of it. Compared to previous Vauxhall abominations, this is actually quite superb.

The engine is a belter and it slightly outperforms the 2.0 306 despite its 200 cc deficit. It's smooth, keen to rev and produces plenty of torque throughout the range. The chassis copes well too, with the torque steer and manic wheelspin of older Vauxhalls, but a distant memory. Economical too, with 35 mpg easily achievable, and a little more on a run.

The interior is typical Vauxhall - dull, dark, but with half decent seats and reasonable build quality. Reliability has been pretty good too, apart from a couple of minor glitches.

A competent hatch with a belting engine. Quite a surprise really.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th August, 2003

2002 Vauxhall Astra Club Estate 1.6 8v from UK and Ireland


So far a good solid workhorse


Cream accumulates on oil filler cap in cold damp weather.

Pedal rubbers are noticeably wearing.

Incorrect headlamp fitted - had to be replaced.

Fuse kept blowing when opening tailgate due to faulty connection to rear no. plate light.

Spare tyre had lump of metal stuck in side, replaced under warranty (trim clip carelessly left in well).

General Comments:

Bought as a workhorse replacement for Cavalier. Nippier (due to lower gearing).

Pulls trailer full of bikes plus cabin full of people well, and is OK with caravan too.

Even with this engine can be fun to drive, but I get lots of road noise which is tiresome on a long journey with the windows shut, but is not noticeable with them open.

Seating now comfortable, but takes getting used to and needs careful adjustment.

Fuel consumption is about same as old 1.8 Cavalier, had expected it to be a bit better.

Load space very useful (it's what I bought it for), and loading does not seem to impair drive-ability as long as you put lots of air in the back tyres.

I do a 60-mile round trip commute on M5, M6, M54 and apart from road noise does the job well.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th June, 2003

13th Jul 2004, 06:14

I had a '93 Astra 1.4LSi which has a similar engine design to the 1.6 8v in your car and my car also had cream forming under the oil filler cap in cold damp weather. This is probably nothing to worry about, simply some water (resulting from the combustion cycle) collecting in the oil and congealing to form the gunk you see on the filler cap. In some circumstances the gunk can point to head gasket, but it sounds more like the former "problem" to me. Nothing really to worry about. Hope this helps.

16th Aug 2004, 14:52

I too have a 2001 Mk. 4 1.6 8-valve Estate. Same happening, but really nothing to worry about. Just whip the cream out and mix it with tuna fish (only joking!) Think it fair to mention though that despite the long service intervals given in the handbook schedule, all Vauxhall OHC engines from the late 80s onwards do benefit greatly from frequent oil changes.