2003 Vauxhall Astra Elegance 2.0 DTI from UK and Ireland


Economical and comfortable


There have been minor problems with rattling trim. Both front windows have suffered, as has the centre console surround. These started roughly around 6,000 miles and have started to disappear again around the 15,000 mile mark.

There has been some minor condensation around the offside headlamp.

Other than that, the car has been perfect.

What is worrying is that a definite mechanical rattle is appearing (possibly timing chain) between 1000 and 1500 revs. This is worse when the car is cold.

It doesn't appear to affect the performance though - it's just getting noiser as the miles pile on.

General Comments:

In Elegance trim, the normally dull Astra cabin is lifted quite a bit by the fake wood trim and chrome rings around the dials.

The air-con is very efficient. The seats very comfortable - even on long journeys.

Performance is spot on, 0-60 isn't blinding and some turbo lag can be a problem at roundabouts, but in gear performance is fantastic. This engine was built for overtaking.

The gear shift is also of a high standard, getting a much smoother shifting box than smaller engined Astras.

However, the big diesel engine dulls the otherwise good Astra handling. Smaller petrols are more fun to drive in the Astra range.

Economy is fantastic. The best I've got is 65mpg, the worst 46mpg. I'm typically getting about 52mpg in mixed driving.

Worst fault is probably the huge amount of black smoke when accelerating hard - seems to be a common problem with 2.0 and 2.2 DTI engines. Vauxhall says it's normal though.

Note, the well known issue with these units burning oil quickly has not been a problem for my car. I've never needed to top it up in over 10,000 miles of driving.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th August, 2004

13th Aug 2004, 19:54

These cars are belt, not chain driven!

17th Aug 2004, 11:02

Sorry, you're wrong there, the 2.0 DTI and 2.2 DTI engines have a timing chain, the 1.7 DTI (and CDTI) use a cam belt.

Interestingly, the 2.0/2.2 DTI have one camshaft, but 16 valves! How odd!! The 1.7 DTI uses the regular 2 camshafts for it's 16 valves.

You may be thinking of the auxiliary belts?

FYI, I got this from an Opel technical bulletin, so I'm 100% sure. I also looked under the bonnet of my Astra! ;)

18th Aug 2004, 08:04

Very certain these 2.0DTI engines are chain driven, not belt driven.

3rd Sep 2004, 09:18

Update: all of the rattles went around 15,000 miles - re-appeared around 16,000 (with some new louders ones) and have new dis-appeared again as 17,000 miles approaches.

Can't get my head around it. Doesn't seem much point getting the dealer to look at it as it's intermittent and they might just make it worse!!

Still, as faults go, it could be a lot worse. Everything else is just fine.

22nd Apr 2005, 02:49

Final update, I've sold the car now.

In total I completed 18,000 miles in 11 months. Total miles was 23,000.

Main issues encountered: headlamp condensation, seatbelt starting to fail to recoil properly, rattles and squeaks from dash and side windows. Engine was smoky too, although that was supposedly normal.

Main plus points: fairly comfortable, cheap to service, economical (50mpg average) and quick through the gears.

Main negative points: velour seat trim attracted cat hair like a fur magnet and wouldn't hoover off easily. Not enough space, build quality suspect. Depreciated a lot, thanks to introduction of new Astra, not surprising, but annoying anyway.

10th Nov 2008, 10:23

It would be more economical to run the QE2. MINE IS BAD ON JUICE.

2003 Vauxhall Astra SRi 1.8 16v petrol from UK and Ireland


Quick and Reliable! A Joy to Own


No problems have arisen with the car. It hasn't missed a beat in 10000 miles!

(I plan to keep the car for at least 4 years, so will keep updating on reliability through the comments section)

General Comments:

After reliable and economic service from my first car, an Astra 1.4LSi, I decided to upgrade to something a little more sporty. I certainly have not been disappointed!

The engine is strong and torquey, pulling cleanly from all revs right the way up to the red line. It has the power to worry far more expensive cars! Its certainly a quick little car.

Handling is excellent, far improved over the pre-98 Astra. This car is a joy to drive.

The interior is comfortable and good for long journeys. Motorway cruising is relaxed despite the short gearing which sees the engine spinning at 3250rpm at 70mph. The optional cruise control fitted to my car is simple to use.

My only small complaint about the car is the slightly dull interior styling. None the less, the interior feels well built and doesn't rattle.

As nothing has gone wrong with the car, its only been to the dealer once - for its first annual service. The dealer service was very good - friendly staff, and the service was completed within the hour. The cost was £97, quite expensive for what was effectively an oil and filter and a check, but still fairly cheap compared to other car manufacturers.

Fuel consumption - 36.4mpg over the 10000 miles (yes, I am sad enough to have calculated it! :-) ) Ranges between 34mpg when driven hard to 38mpg driven normally. I consider this to be very good for a car with a 1.8 litre engine that's designed to be a little sporty.

Overall, this is an excellent car that is great to drive, and great to own thanks to its reliability and fairly low running costs. I would strongly reccomend it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th July, 2004

5th Feb 2005, 05:57

Time for an update...

Car is now two years old with 33000 miles.

Vauxhall Astra SRi 1.8 16v (Engine: Z18XE)


Fuel Consumption - 36.6mpg

1st Annual Service (Interim) at 16000 miles (£97)

Front tyres replaced at 22000 miles (~£150)

Oil & Filter Change at 22000 miles

2nd Annual Service (Full, inc plugs) at 33000 miles (~£160)


23000 miles- small engine oil leak traced to hair line crack in oil pump casing, oil pump replaced under warranty.


Other than the oil leak, which was quickly remidied under warranty by Vauxhall dealer, the car has given reliable and enjoyable service for the 20000 miles I've owned it. It has never failed to get me home. The engine is rattle free, oil consumption is negligible (apart from small leak!) as level has remained on Max mark on dipstick between services. The car in general still feels tight, with no sloppiness to steering, gear change, performance or build.

The car remains a joy to drive. The engine pulls strongly from all revs, but really comes on song above 3500rpm - overtaking is easy. The short gearing means the car is hugely responsive on the motorway, there's never any need to change out of 5th. As I spend a lot of time on motorways, I find the optional cruise control very useful indeed. Lotus helped with the design of the Astra G chassis, and it truly shows - the car grips hard, and is very chuckable.

Regular washing and polishing has maintained the external look of car, the paint finish is still of high quality. I like the look of the Astra G: understated, the car doesn't shout about itself, but still looks handsome and purposeful.

The interior remains rattle free, and the sports seats (fitted to SXi and SRi models) are comfortable. Tap the dashboard and you recieve a dull thud in return, no rattles. Admittedly the quality of some materials isn't as good as the new Astra for example, but the interior is still very clear, well laid out and easy to use. Nothing has fallen off and everything still works! The air conditioning proved very useful in the summer when sitting in motorway traffic.

Rear visibility is an slight issue however, with thick rear pillars and the low nose high back stance of the car. Also, the car is far worse in the snow than my old MkIII Astra. The traction control helps in a straight line, but should never be relied upon! I suspect this has a lot to do with the light engine and wide low profile tyres, I would be interested to hear how other people find various specs of Astra in wintry conditions.

Overall, this car continues to impress, and I would recommend one to anyone looking for a practical, reliable small car that has a little bit of get up and go! Sheer numbers sold and the introduction of the new model see the old model as a bit of a used car bargain. When looking at used Astra Gs, insist on a full service history, and especially ensure the timing belt has been changed at correct intervals (60000 miles or 6 years for the 1.8 16v engine). You will find the intervals in the service booklet. If the belt hasn't been changed and it snaps you're looking at a lot of expense!

27th Mar 2007, 17:38

I had a 1.8 16v SRi on an 03 plate. I agree it was a nice car to drive, but it felt slow, and handling was sometimes suspect. Now own a 306 XSi, and the handling and power is far superior to the vauxhall. Much more fun to drive.

16th Dec 2009, 11:30

I've got a 1.8 SRi, and it is way better to drive, and a lot faster than a 306 XSi. The Astra's handling is spot on, and is a lot more reliable than a Peugeot 306.

17th May 2010, 14:26

Hi. I own a '53 Astra 1.8 SRi, owned it for 2 years now.. it's a nice car. I've not had too many problems. I'm looking to upgrade to a Subaru Legacy saloon now. One mod I would recommend is a traction control switch as fitted on some models (2.2sri/coupe?) as these cars are not great in the snow! I had problems getting up to my drive way one night in the snow.. the traction control was going off and not getting me anywhere.