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How much? £24,100
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1956cc 16v in-line four-cyl turbodiesel, 192bhp @ 4000rpm, 295lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 7.8sec 0-62mph, 141mph, 55.4mpg, 134g/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 1460kg (est)/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4419/1814/1510
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 3 out of 53

Handling

Rated 3 out of 53

Performance

Rated 3 out of 53

Usability

Rated 5 out of 55

Feelgood factor

Rated 2 out of 52

Readers' rating

Rated 3 out of 53

Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo 2.0 (2014) CAR review

By Ollie Kew

First Drives

04 February 2014 09:00

Vauxhall wants in on the fast diesel family hatch party. Instead of defaulting to VW Golf GTD or the Skoda Octavia vRS, Luton aims to woo you with this: the new Astra BiTurbo.

Is the Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo the thinking man's VXR?

In more ways than one, yes. It's available as a commodious five-door, unlike the three-door ‘coupe’-only VXR. It also looks less lairy (dare we say childish), though still hornier than a cooking Astra, thanks to a jawline squarer than David Coulthard's and a rear bumper with a diffuser element and large chrome exhaust tips. It’s a pity that the tacked on side skirts look so aftermarket though.

It's also cheaper than the 276bhp VXR, to the tune of £3160. And by running on diesel, the Astra BiTurbo's eco-manifesto is predictably superior to that of any petrol hot hatch. Vauxhall claims up to 55.4mpg, and 134g/km. The £26,220 VW Golf GTD trumps those numbers by such a galling margin, it’s almost unfair to mention it (67.3mpg and 109g/km).

But does the Astra BiTurbo actually go like a hot hatch?

The figures look promising – not least because this is most powerful diesel hot hatch of the current crop. An Octavia vRS TDI manages a piffling 182bhp/280lb ft, as does the Golf GTD. Of course, because the VW Group’s last hope, the Seat Leon FR, uses the same engine as the Skoda and VW, it too is soundly whupped by the Griffin-badged car. How does 192bhp and 295lb ft grab you, chaps?

That torque figure is what makes this Astra ‘hot’, though, but the healthy slab of pulling power is only at hand between 1750-2500rpm, meaning the Astra BiTurbo doesn't vacuum up the horizon with quite the appetite you might hope. It feels fastest on the motorway in cruise mode, where in fifth and sixth gears, a mere flex of the alloy-trimmed throttle piles on momentum relentlessly, making opportune overtakes a cinch. All told, our test car averaged 35.1mpg. Well, it is a hot hatch.

Is the Astra BiTurbo actually fun to drive?

Like the rest of the regular Astra range, the BiTurbo errs towards solidity, rather than playfulness. The ridiculously overstuffed steering wheel telegraphs nothing in the way of front-end response, which is a pity given how well the BiTurbo shrugs off bumpy British roads and applies its twist-and-go urge.

The Astra doesn't particularly shrink around its driver at speed, in the same manner as the similarly twin-turbocharged Mazda 3 2.2D. We're more on the GT side of warm hatchery here. Your cross-country pace comes from diesely shove, not B-road deftness.

Twenty-four grand for a diesel Astra?

Indeed – you could have a mid-spec Ford Focus ST for that money, albeit with fuel consumption to rival Concorde's. The BiTurbo has a few holes in its spec too: while buyers do get well-bolstered two-tone sports seats, cruise control, six airbags and heated electric mirrors, there are no auto-lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, heated seats or parking sensors. Our test car did get DAB radio, sat-nav, Bluetooth and LED running lights – and a £25,730 tag to match.

If those are indeed necessary titbits for your family hatch, you can of course chalk them up as optional extras, by which time Vauxhall's devilish derv knocks on Golf GTD money, which looks like a far more premium object both inside and out.

Verdict

How to sum up the Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo? It's a handsome, addictively punchy and undeniably practical, spacious family mover. It’s also not that much more expensive than a well-specced Astra with a ‘normal’ diesel engine. The 1.7-litre CRTI SRi (that’s enough letters, thanks) Astra costs £22,765 – with a much wider performance gap than the £1335 price difference suggests.

Question is, does the Astra BiTurbo feel £1335 more exciting to drive down your favourite back road? Almost certainly not. If you like your hot hatches to drink from the black pump, the British-built Astra is certainly fleet of foot enough to warrant a look, but with stronger, fresher rivals like the new Seat Leon FR to contend with, it’s not a done deal.

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Average rating: Rated 3 out of 53 (8 votes)

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Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo 2.0 (2014) CAR review

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Brand0

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Brand0 says

RE: Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo 2.0 (2014) CAR review

@COMMENT8 - because they are cheaper - yes they do chose the Griffin plus cash over the VW. I never said GM sell less cars. I intimated that 25k is a lot of money for an Astra. Either you agree or disagree. Read my post for what it is rather than look for an act of aggression. Why are you submitting UK figures anyway? Next you'll tell me that more people from the UK buy Fiestas than Fiat Panda's! Perhaps you can tell us all how many more...?

10 February 2014 13:43

 

comment8

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comment8 says

RE: Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo 2.0 (2014) CAR review

@Brando

Vauxhall UK 2013 market share 11.5% +0.1%

VW           UK 2013 market share   8.6 % -0.4 %

Private sales +15%

Fleet sales +5%

A clear and increasing majority choose the Griffin.

05 February 2014 20:07

 

Brand0

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Brand0 says

RE: Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo 2.0 (2014) CAR review

@BERT - I answered your question clearly. I just don't think it applies to this story. I'm saying that given a straight choice between two brands being Vauxhll and VW (i.e. pick one), the majority would go with the VW because it offers a bit more quality. I didn't say Vauxhall is cheap only cheaper than VW. The competition is the context and in this case, I don't feel this car at 25 large makes any sense to anyone but a Vauxhall fan with cash to burn. Either get the Golf GTD, or save several thousand and get the standard Astra CDTi. Just like the author says. And yes, I've had a Vauxhall - an Astra no less (though it does go back a few years - I think Skoda actually made bad cars at the time...)

05 February 2014 14:13

 

bertandnairobi

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bertandnairobi says

RE: Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo 2.0 (2014) CAR review

 Yes, I agree. Comment8´s was a very good contribution. It was a lot more interesting than the vast majority of the stuff that others are paid cash money to write too. 

Brand0: I asked a simple question, is it appropriate for journalists to tell us what others think of  the car? I wanted a "yes" or "no" and you gave both. You said it was not appropriate and then you said  it was okay to for journalists to pointing out the obvious, namely telling us what others think. I´ll stop my inquiry here but thanks for answering as best as you could! 

 

05 February 2014 10:42

 

Agoogy

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Agoogy says

RE: Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo 2.0 (2014) CAR review

yeah well said Comment8...isn't it about time some brave auto journalist excecises some objectivity when writing/discussing these products. Whilst the history of the manufacturers is always interesting, it rarely has any real impact on the stuff we're using right now...All 'brands' have changed beyond recognition in the last decade I'd say... so lets start again...a fresh approach...where evrything starts from the same point...and leave marketing to those that believe in/earn from it.

05 February 2014 10:32

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