Vauxhall Astra

Sports Tourer 1.6

CDTi SRi NAV

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, side
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, front
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, front
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, rear
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, interior
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, rear
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, interior
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, onstar
Vauxhall OnStar, call centre, screen

THE latest Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer looks great, handles beautifully, is brimming with technology and even comes with your own personal assistant that can be contacted 24/7 to offer advice and guidance.

Many new models have all sorts of clever connectivity systems these days, but it's certainly worth taking a minute to look at Vauxhall's OnStar service that offers a wealth of features.

At the press of a button you are connected to a ‘real-life' person, not an automated machine, at a centre in Luton.

From there, the list of options is plentiful. If you want directions, the operator will have that downloaded direct to the car's sat nav system. The operator can even recommend restaurants, museums and places of interest etc.

The system also enables the car as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to seven devices.

There is an OnStar app and this can help you find where you parked your car, lock and unlock doors and display key diagnostic information such as tyre pressure readings along with fuel and oil levels.

It can keep you up to date with the car's health so you avoid unexpected repairs, it can locate the nearest service station and of course, send the directions to your sat nav system.

The OnStar GPS system can help police locate your car if it is stolen and perhaps most importantly if you have an accident and cannot call the emergency services yourself, OnStar does it for you.

The second that the airbag inflates a direct line is opened to an OnStar advisor who will speak to you in your chosen language even if travelling through Europe.

A message is sent to the Service Centre including the car's location, colour, direction of travel and the extent of the damage. And if the report warrants it, then the emergency services will immediately head to the reported scene of the accident.

I checked out the system a number of times during my drive in the new Astra and the service was really effective and super-efficient.

One of the great benefits is that you can speak to the operator while you are driving and the directions are downloaded without having to break stride, so to speak. This is so much easier than finding somewhere safe to pull over and programming the sat nav manually.

I appreciate many models come with voice activated systems available, but I have found this to be really hit and miss - one car's less than helpful guidance wanted to take me to Bournemouth rather than Brecon no matter how clearly I repeated the name of the destination.

All this technology does comes free for the first year on the SRi NAV model that I tried. After the first year there is a subscription fee which is yet to be announced, but according to Vauxhall it will be very reasonably priced.

Models below the SRI NAV can be fitted with all the kit for £329 and that entitles the owner to a year's free service and once again the subscription would apply after twelve months.

The Astra Sports Tourer itself has been warmly received - it's very modern in appearance with dynamic streamlining, silver-effect roof rails, front fog lights, body-coloured bumpers, 17-inch alloys, a rear spoiler, LED daytime running lights and tinted rear windows.

The interior is exceptionally spacious with ample room for five adults and the cabin is beautifully modern and clutter-free.

Nevertheless, there is a wealth of techno treats to be explored including a pitch perfect six-speaker sound system, sports style front seats with heat settings, cruise control, air conditioning and all the connectivity options you could wish for.

This car was powered by a 1.6-litre 136ps diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. It can sprint from 0-60mph in 9.5 seconds, tops out at 127mph, has combined fuel efficiency of 72.4mpg and carbon emissions of 104g/km.

Whilst it's not the fastest out of the starting blocks, the Astra Sports Tourer is a car that will be used to clock up thousands of motorway miles year after year and that's where it really excels as this is a car that cruises at motorway speeds.

I did find the ride a little firm at times and you will feel the odd bump from an unexpected pothole or two, but they were my only slight gripes.

The all-round visibility is excellent and the storage options thorough with a boot capacity of 540 litres that is increased to 1,630 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.

The boot also has very handy adjustable cargo nets that are easy to operate.

Safety specifications are comprehensive with the likes of lane departure warning, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programme, hill start assist and numerous airbags to protect all occupants.

FAST FACTS

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.6 CDTi SRi NAV

Price:£22,770

Mechanical:136ps, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:127mph

0-62mph:9.5 seconds

Combined MPG:72.4

Insurance Group: 15

C02 emissions:104g/km

Bik rating:17%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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