Vauxhall Astra SRi

NAV 1.0T

Vauxhall Astra, front action
Vauxhall Astra, front action 2
Vauxhall Astra, front action 3
Vauxhall Astra, side action
Vauxhall Astra, rear action
Vauxhall Astra, boot 2
Vauxhall Astra, dashboard
Vauxhall Astra, front seats
Vauxhall Astra, boot

JUST how pampered would you like to feel in your car? If the answer is 'really rather a lot' you might then expect a big bill to keep you happy.

But thanks to what they call the trickle down effect, what starts off posh and pricey soon becomes normal and not that dear. Nowhere is this sense of democratisation seen more keenly than in cars.

Want proof? Well, the rather modest Vauxhall Astra you see here will warm a driver's chill hands at the push of a discreet button as the leather-bound steering wheel gently heats up.

Not so long ago that chilly morning delight was confined to cars vastly dearer than this modest Astra, where warm hands (and warm bottoms for driver and front seat passenger) comes as an equally modestly priced £355 winter pack.

Just as modest, and equally welcome, is a three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine that provides zesty performance with the enthusiasm of a puppy scampering in the park and still managed 45.6mpg over the 500 miles of its test.

Even with a mere 999cc to move it along this turbocharged tearaway will top 120mph and hit 62mph in a tick above ten seconds. In other words, plenty of performance for its family focused role in life.

The Astra also shows how a hatchback can do more with less when compared to the current craze for SUVs, cars built taller and heavier as they try to look butch on the school run.

They all have physics against them when a corner arrives, either leaning over on soft springs or staying upright on stiff suspension that does nothing for the ride.

The lower-slung Astra hatch actually feels a bit sporty as its lower build helps it spear round bends as its decently supple springs soak up the potholes and scars of a modern British road.

You can pay as little as £17,115 for your Astra, which brings a car in Design trim with alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, DAB radio, remote central locking and electric front windows and door mirrors.

Its non-turbo 1.4-litre engine is no ball of fire and quite high in tailpipe emissions - better to move to a quicker, cleaner 1.0-litre turbo at £17,795. That tempting winter pack is offered on either, by the way.

The Astra hatchback range tops out at a frankly unlikely sounding £25,095 for a car with 1.6-litre bi-turbo diesel that promises plenty of performance and useful fuel frugality - after you've found the purchase price.

You might feel this car, in highish SRi Nav trim with chirpy little petrol engine strikes a fine balance between the extremes of Astradom. You certainly shouldn't feel shortchanged after exchanging your £21,095 for one.

On the standard equipment list is all the kit already mentioned as well as bigger alloys, satellite navigation and a forward facing camera that warns if you don't start braking in time and will start to slow you if necessary.

FAST FACTS

Vauxhall Astra SRi NAV 1.0T

Price: £21,095

Mechanical: 104bhp, 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 121mph

0-62mph: 10.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 62.8

Insurance Group: 12

C02 emissions: 104g/km

Bik rating: 21%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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