Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer (2022) review: an estate by any other name

Published:01 July 2022

2022 Vauxhall Astra Estate
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Alan Taylor-Jones

Bauer Automotive's new cars editor, although just as happy behind the wheel of a classic

By Alan Taylor-Jones

Bauer Automotive's new cars editor, although just as happy behind the wheel of a classic

► Petrol, diesel and PHEV flavours
► All-electric version arrives in 2023
► Now related to the 308 SW

With all manner of genres of car being spliced together to make ever slimmer niches, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer was some sort of racy SUV-inspired shooting brake if you’d just seen the name. Those that remember this car’s predecessor (anybody?) should hopefully know better.

That’s because the Sports Tourer is (whisper it) the estate version of the impressively accomplished Astra hatch. Forward of the B-pillar, it’s business as usual with Vauxhall’s distinctive ‘Vizor’ up front and a far more chiselled shape than its rather anonymous predecessor.

Move rearwards and the increased wheelbase is focussed on improving boot space, with no big jump in rear legroom as you’d find on rivals such as the Golf Estate, just a little bit more headroom. Up front things are once again familiar, with the same twin-screen dashboard and same choice of powertrains under the bonnet.

2022 Vauxhall Astra Estate

Ooooh, engines…

If you’ve got Castrol pumping through your veins, you won’t find anything too exciting here. Unlike the Golf and Leon Estates that have circa 300bhp R and Cupra versions respectively, the most potent version of the Astra will be the 222bhp plug-in hybrid shared with the DS 4, Peugeot 308, Citroen C5X and numerous other Stellantis PHEVs.

We’re yet to sample that, although we have tested the lesser 178bhp PHEV along with the punchiest pure petrol packing 128bhp and the identically powerful but usefully torquier 1.5-litre diesel. If you’re in no hurry, a 109bhp version of the petrol is also available on entry-level Design trim.

Whichever engine you pick, it’s the front wheels that exclusively receive drive via a six-speed manual gearbox on the petrols or an eight-speed automatic that’s optional on the unleaded drinkers and standard on everything else.

2022 Vauxhall Astra Estate

I’m feeling sensible, tell me about the boot

Go on then, it is why you’re interested in the estate, sorry, Sports Tourer in the first place. According to Vauxhall you get 597 litres of boot space with standard 40/20/40 split rear seats up and 1,634 with them down. Those figures sink to 516 and 1,553 litres respectively if you opt for plug-in hybrid power.

You’ll find the 308, Golf and Leon have more room, with the Skoda Octavia Estate trumping all in this class of car. Vauxhall say that’s only part of the story, with the boot a usefully square shape and packed full of handy features especially if you tick the box for the Intelli-space variable floor in the petrol and diesel. It does the standard low level for maximum capacity and higher level for easier loading, but also can be sat at 45 degrees to either separate luggage or make grabbing stuff from beneath easier.

What’s more, there’s room for the parcel shelf under the floor regardless of what height it’s at, and there’s also a smaller panel that hides the first aid and puncture repair kits near the back seats. In effect, it means you don’t have to empty the entire boot to deal with punctures be they in skin or rubber. Unsurprisingly the PHEV’s battery pack means the boot floor is effectively always in the higher position, with a smaller cubby for handily storing your charging cables. That’s a useful space-saving feature that’s not guaranteed in the world of plug-in hybrids.

Can I get my family in as well?

Despite riding on a longer wheelbase than the hatch, the Astra wagon uses this to increase boot space instead of rear legroom. Headroom is improved thanks to the stretched roofline but taller folk will find their knees close to the backs of the front seats especially if there’s another vertically gifted person in front of you.

Front space is fine, with plenty of adjustment in the seat and enough air between you and the person next to make sure you won’t be rubbing elbows. Storage space is plentiful, with a good spread of lidded cubbies, cupholders and slots to stick all your odds and sods.

2022 Vauxhall Astra Estate

I suppose the dash is touchscreen central

Mercifully there are still plenty of actual buttons and knobs that make changing temperature, volume or setting the cruise control easy. It’s certainly preferable to the touchy-feely Golf and 308 in terms of usability and avoids looking drab, too.

More in-depth functions do require you to delve into the central touchscreen, no issue given its snappy responses and sharp display. Rival systems from Kia and Ford are arguably easier to navigate, although it knocks the socks off Volkswagen Group’s buggy software and hardware.

There’s also a good spread of soft-touch plastics with the harder stuff pleasantly textured and robustly screwed together. It’s a cohesive and easy to use interior that’s only slightly let down by some slightly flimsy buttons beneath the touchscreen and a digital driver’s display that’s sharp, but nowhere near as configurable or easy to read as VW’s superior system.

2022 Vauxhall Astra Estate

Does it all fall apart on the road?

No, but neither will it provide thrill-a-minute handling. Let’s start with the good; the steering weights up reassuringly as cornering forces increase and has an agreeable pace to it, too. Grip levels are strong, with the Astra predictably running wide should you be too enthusiastic.

Body roll is well contained and it’s certainly capable enough in the twisties, yet this isn’t something that’ll have you chomping at the bit for a B-road blast. If that’s your bag, a Ford Focus or Seat Leon feels appreciably more agile if we’re talking cooking models, a Golf R will generate greater grins if you’re after performance in a compact yet practical package, while a BMW 3 Series is the premium driver’s choice.

The PHEV’s extra bulk certainly does it no favours in the bends, feeling a little less willing to change direction, but compared to plug-in rivals it’s one of the better ones. An Octavia iV feels positively boaty unless you opt for the vRS although the related 308 feels a little sharper still.

And what about the bumpy bits?

If comfort is your bag, we’d stick to the 17in wheels if possible as they help smother surface imperfections noticeably better than the larger alternative. That said, the 18s we tried were bolted to a PHEV, so differing suspension setups may have had a bearing, too. We shall investigate further when we get one in the UK.

Either way, the Astra certainly has tighter body control than the Peugeot 308 SW petrol and certainly the Octavia Estate, something that you’ll certainly appreciate on the undulations encountered on country roads over here.

Our only concern is that the Astra did feel a little flat-footed over some of the rougher sections of Germany’s road network. It avoids being crashy, instead displaying the kind of rubbery bump absorption that German manufacturers seem to love so much. Unlike the Golf Estate, there’s no adaptive damper system available to help ramp up the comfort.

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer: verdict

While the old Astra was something of an appliance, the latest version replaces dreary with a shot of desirability. It’s a handsome thing in the metal while the interior cleverly blends modern tech and traditional physical controls in an appealing fashion.

It’s decent if not particularly dynamic to drive and the boot has plenty of useful features to make up for a slight shortfall in space compared to rivals. Given that the PHEV sits in the 8% BIK company car tax rate and greatly improved residual values make for appealing PCP deals, it’s a strong if not quite class-leading compact estate.

More Vauxhall reviews by CAR magazine

Specs

Price when new: £33,900
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1598cc 4-cyl petrol-electric plug-in hybrid, combined system output 178bhp and 266lb ft
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Performance: 7.7sec 0-62mph, 140mph top speed, 25g/km, 256mpg
Weight / material: 1717kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4642/2062/1443mm

Photo Gallery

  • 2022 Vauxhall Astra Estate
  • 2022 Vauxhall Astra Estate
  • 2022 Vauxhall Astra Estate
  • 2022 Vauxhall Astra Estate

By Alan Taylor-Jones

Bauer Automotive's new cars editor, although just as happy behind the wheel of a classic

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