2006 Vauxhall Astra Design 1.7 CDTI from UK and Ireland


Stunning looks


Nothing to-date.

General Comments:

The 1.7 Diesel performs very well, but seems very noisy when accelerating. The dealer says that this particular engine is noted for being noisy because of the Twin-Cam. Anyone else notice this?

The fuel consumption is disappointing because I am averaging only 42mpg, but I have sometimes been using the available pulling power on both normal roads and motorways. The dealer is again not concerned about this.

The car looks fantastic and handles really well. The auto dipping rear view mirror is a great idea.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd January, 2007

2006 Vauxhall Astra SRi XP 1.8 from UK and Ireland


An excellent car, but be prepared to expect some build quality issues


Entire gear selector came off in my hand, had to be re-attached by the AA.

Steering column has become noisy over the last 1000 miles.

Has developed some very irritating heat-shield rattles in the engine bay.

Has developed some irritating interior rattles in the rear of the car.

General Comments:

Car is in a different league to the previous generation Astra. I would have to say in terms of design and dynamic ability it is as good as, if not better than a Mk5 VW Golf, though VW probably have still got the edge on build quality.

The car looks great and has a very nice subtle body kit and the 18" 5 spoke wheels are lovely. The wheels are extremely easy to damage though and make parking in a tight multi storey car park an unpleasant affair (as I recently found out to the detriment of one of my wheels!)

The car drives extremely well, it handles and stops brilliantly. The engine is extremely good, for a 1.8 it has lots of character, is keen and flexible and makes a good noise when extended. It does however drink a lot of oil and the fuel consumption is quite poor. No matter how gently it is driven it will only return approx 30 mpg.

The car has a sports switch, which at first I thought was a bit gimmicky, however the car does drive better with the switch on, though its not so smooth at low speeds. It does have an even bigger impact on the cars poor fuel consumption though.

The only mechanical breakdown I have suffered is the gear selector coming off, but the AA had me back on the road a few minutes after arriving. I was assured that the problem is rare (i should hope so too!)

The only area the car really seems to have let itself down is on the number of squeaks, rattles, buzzes and clicks it has developed over such a short time (the car is only two months old). The car is a lease vehicle and is being replaced soon so I haven't bothered having them sorted out, but had I paid the 17.5k list price for this car, I would have been sorely disappointed. The fact that they could all be resolved is neither here nor there, I find it unacceptable to be experiencing such problems on what is a new, relatively expensive car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 31st October, 2006

2006 Vauxhall Astra VXR 2.0 Turbo 16V petrol from UK and Ireland


Ballistic, raw and "old school" - a laugh a minute


No faults.

General Comments:

Everyone always asks why I chose this over a Golf GTI or Focus ST. Several reasons:

1) It's the quickest of the three by a considerable margin.

2) It's the best looking of the three (in my humble opinion)

3) It's the only one of the three that really excited me to drive. Granted, that's in some way due to its flaws, but its occasional waywardness and the massive respect with which you need to treat the power hark right back to the days of the old school raw hot hatchback. No, it's probably not as capable as the Focus or Golf, but it makes me smile more than either of them, and that in my opinion is what a hot hatch should do.

The engine is an absolute belter. Boost comes in at around 2,000 RPM and the car just slingshots toward the horizon. It sounds absolutely gorgeous too, and is an object lesson in how to make a four cylinder engine sound and feel exciting. VW would do well to take notes here. It reminds me a lot of the old C20XE "red top" engine, with a slightly gravelly, raspy note to it, and an instant wallop when you open it up. Like the XE, it also sends the odd "zizz" and resonance through the pedals and the seat at certain points in the rev range, but it just has a raw energy to it that none of the rivals I drove (Focus, Golf, Megane 225) got even close to. Vauxhall have always known how to build a decent high performance engine, and this is one of their best yet. Certainly the VW unit can't hold a candle to it in terms of either performance or charisma.

Handling is much better than Vauxhalls of old with good bite from the front end (if you're careful on the loud pedal), and very direct, quick geared steering. Feel isn't as good as the Focus ST, but is easily the match of the Golf. The biggest problem is the ease with which you can overwhelm the front tyres with the power, but you soon learn to be smooth and feed in the power progressively. It's two handfuls in the wet, but again it can still be driven quickly once you learn it. To some this will drive them nuts, but I personally really like the fact that this car takes time to learn to get the best out of. You need to be able to (and be willing to) drive around its shortcomings, it really rewards. And you can drive around its shortcomings, and cover ground at ridiculous speeds. If you want to drive it everywhere foot to floor in all weathers, buy the Golf. Don't even waste your time test driving the VXR - you'll hate it.

The driving position is good, and build quality first class, although some of the interior plastics look a bit bland and cheap. Ride is very firm though (the reason I marked it down a bit for comfort) with sleeping policemen and potholes verging on the painful at times. Other than that, it's a comfy, refined car with a real Jekyll and Hyde character. Cruising the motorways in top it's quiet, responsive and stable. Under full chat exiting a corner, the engine snarls and bellows, and the steering wheel tugs gently as the chassis really starts to work for a living. The whole car comes alive and makes you concentrate - just like the best hot hatches of old.

So, the VXR is flawed, but brilliant fun, and a "classic" hot hatch in both the positive and negative sense of the word. It's well made, reliable (so far) and apart from the appalling ride quality, an absolute doddle to live with. If the new Golf GTI is too middle aged (and middle class) for you and the Focus too bland, try the VXR. It might just be what you are looking for.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th May, 2006

31st May 2006, 07:47

This has to be one of the best reviews I've read on this site. There's no "badge-ism", no slagging off other hot hatches for the sake of it with no real justification, just constructive criticism of all the hot hatches (none of them are perfect) and genuine reasons for choosing the VXR. There are a lot of commenters and reviewers on this site who should take note of reviews like this, after all that's what this site is about... opinions not slanging matches. I'm waiting for delivery of an ST, but then that was my personal choice. A mate of mine has got a VXR and it's a stunning car... each to their own and all that. Nice one!!

2006 Vauxhall Astra Design 1.6 Twinport from UK and Ireland


A big surprise from Vauxhall!!


Only the passengers side door panel/speaker rattles with the CD/radio on, but going in to get fixed.

General Comments:

When I test drove an Astra it fooled me into believing I was driving something bigger like a Vectra, it was so smooth, quiet, refined and yet very quick for a 1.6!

I saw the Design model, with alloys, fog lamps and the spoiler it looked very sporty. When I got inside it felt luxurious with dark trim and half leather seats, its bright too I went for the double length sunroof with the electric blind (its quite a nice toy!!) I also got 7speaker mp3 player, folding mirrors (very handy) and cruise control (very lazy!)

I collected it in March and its not till you get it on the road where you feel it's a nice place to be, quiet, comfortable, easy yet sporty to drive! It has a good feel through the steering. It has auto lights and wipers and auto dipping mirror, all these little things are great! The engine was a big surprise - I thought it would be sluggish, but it's nippy, fast and very quiet, it great on the motorway and fun on the twisty bits too!! Just have to rev it a touch going up a steep hill.

I would strongly recommend this car! Forget the Focus, it's too bland! Get one of these!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd May, 2006