Astra is a value family hatchback

MHDE'Vauxhall Astra
MHDE'Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall hopes that a package of smart styling revisions will keep its Astra family hatch competitive with tough competition in the Focus and Golf sector.

Add in the brand’s usual vast range of engines and trim levels and you have a family hatchback that continues to be very difficult to ignore. Especially in entry-level 1.4i 16v VVT petrol form, the least expensive version of which is one of the most affordable cars in its sector.

To begin with, I need to point out that the 1.4-litre 16v VVT petrol powerplant on offer here is one of Vauxhall’s older engines. In other words, we’re not talking here about the modern 120 or 140PS 1.4-litre 16v turbo petrol unit that’s offered to Astra GTC coupe customers and was available to original buyers of this sixth generation Astra five-door hatch. It isn’t any more. If you’re looking at a five-door Astra hatch, petrol choices are limited to 87 and 100PS normally aspirated versions of the 1.4i 16v VVT unit we’re looking at here - or an unremarkable 115PS normally aspirated 1.6-litre powerplant.

In the case of this 1.4 in 87PS form, that means rest to sixty in around 14s on the way to a top speed of 105mph. Graduating up to this unit in 100PS form means that your bodystyle choice also includes the Sports Tourer estate. Performance improves to get you to sixty on 12.9s on the way to 111mph.

Whether you opt for your Astra in five-door hatch or Sport Tourer estate form, you’ll find the latest version has a sleeker look, much in the style of the GTC three-door. Both five-door models get a smarter front grille, with a repositioned logo-bar in the upper section and a re-styled lower section too. Neater front indicator lamps and a fresh design of fog lamp complete the front-end revisions. The rear of both models has also been refreshed, with sleeker rear-panel styling complemented by a chrome lower moulding.

This MK6 Astra has, from launch, been usefully larger than its predecessor, something you notice most back on the rear seat.

A fully-grown adult really can sit comfortably in the middle for decently long periods alongside passengers who’ll appreciate the fact that you can slide your feet properly right under the seat in front. So yes, this really is a proper 5-seater in a way that many of its rivals simply aren’t.

Bottom line? Well this smarter sixth generation Astra must now be taken more seriously than ever before, even in this entry-level 1.4i 16v VVT petrol guise.

It’s good to drive and great to ride in, with a large, classy cabin that will sell this car to many, the standard having been raised far beyond what we’ve seen from Vauxhall in the past.

Best of all, it’s mainly British, built at Ellesmere Port near Liverpool to a quality at least as high as anything the Japanese brands can manage. Perhaps this model’s key selling point though remains its price.

With an asking figure of around £13,000 for the ‘Expression’ five-door hatchback 1.4i 16v VVT variant, this particular version is arguably the best value family hatchback you can buy.