By Mike Torpey on 2016-10-15 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Sports Tourer 1.4T
LITHE, low-slung and lighter than before, the new Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer is way more than just an estate of grace.
Built like its hatchback stablemate at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire, the 'ST' really has raised the bar for buyers operating on the compact estate scene.
Never mind those svelt looks, which grab the eye instantly and give the car a longer appearance even though it has the same dimensions as the outgoing model.
What's really slick is the way Vauxhall's design team have created more space, both for the car's passengers and their luggage.
For buyers of estate cars that's half the winning ticket and to be specific, the driver can enjoy 26mm of additional headroom while rear passengers have 28mm more.
Cargo capacity, too, is better with a total of 1,630 litres thanks to more efficient packaging.
With that in mind, for the first time on a Vauxhall the boot can be opened without a touch or remote control - combined with the brand's Keyless Entry and Start a gentle kick under the rear bumper is enough to open the tailgate.
A further kick under the bumper will close the tailgate and the system can detect any obstruction and stops the mechanism in case of an emergency. All smart stuff.
Added load space can be accessed thanks to 40/20/40 folding rear seats and for added convenience, Vauxhall's FlexOrganiser range - with side rails, dividing nets and fastening options - is up for grabs as an extra cost option.
Power comes via a line-up of petrol and diesel engines ranging from 100ps to 200ps, including the recently-launched 1.6-litre CDTi Whisper Diesel and our model's 150ps 1.4-litre Direct Injection Turbo.
The latter may not be the most economical - we could only return an average 42mpg compared with the official Combined figure of 50.4 - but it's strong, sweet and refined, even with the car fully laden.
It is also very agile, partly thanks to the lighter weight, and there's plenty of feedback from the steering.
Specifying the upmarket Elite Nav trim grade ensures a welter of standard kit including leather upholstery, cruise control, a seven-inch touchscreen and electric lumbar adjustment while a standout feature is the overall quality of the cabin's fit and finish.
It's a comfortable car to travel in, an enjoyable and well soundproofed one to drive, distinguished looking and practical too - pretty much the perfect family estate.
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.4T Elite Nav
Mechanical: 150ps, 1,399cc 4-cyl turbo petrol engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual transmission
Max Speed: 134mph
Combined MPG: 50.4
C02 emissions: 130g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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