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ASTRA GOES INTO SPACE (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Like its hatchback counterpart, Vauxhall's spacious Astra Sports Tourer estate gets a smart look, decent connectivity and an appealing, efficient range of engines. Jonathan Crouch reports on the revised version.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 60
Vauxhall has increased its presence in the compact estate sector with this Astra Sports Tourer. MPVs and 4x4s might offer more interesting options for family buyers but the solid, practical virtues of a good estate are not to be under-estimated. This one's clean, quite frugal, practical, reasonably high tech and pleasingly sharp to look at. It's a decent package all-round.
Backgroundword count: 239
When what you need to fit in your car just won't, you need a bigger car. Family hatchback owners confronted with this nightmare scenario have a number of options at their disposal. They could take the rugged route with a compact SUV, choose the versatility of a md-sized MPV or step up to a medium range saloon. Alternatively, they could turn to an extended version of the family hatchback they already have. The estate car isn't the trendiest or most exciting option but when you need a little bit more room, it does the job. Vauxhall's Astra Sports Tourer is little more than an extended Astra hatch but it could be all the car you need, especially in this improved form which includes a fresh range of efficient three cylinder engines. Many of the leading lights in the family hatchback sector have an estate version. Focus, Golf, Peugeot 308 - the manufacturers of all these models see the value of tagging another few centimetres onto the rear of the five-door hatches to give customers the option of extra carrying capacity. Vauxhall has a history of following suit with its Astra but like its rivals, sales of Astra estates have traditionally been way down on those of the standard hatchback versions. The compact estate market looks likely to remain a niche one but with flashy Sports Tourer branding, this generation Astra estate aims to take a bigger slice of it.
Driving Experienceword count: 255
Like the rest of the Astra Sports Tourer, the suspension is shared with the Astra hatchback. There are no suspension or handling changes made to this revised model, which means that this car continues with a relatively simple torsion beam rear suspension system, a set-up enhanced with a so-called 'Watts linkage' feature to improve cornering stability. This claims to reduce sideways motion between the axle and the body of the car as you go through the corners. The key changes here lie beneath the bonnet. Previously, there was just a single 3 cylinder engine in the range. Now the old units have gone and the line-up is built around this format. There are two fresh petrol units, a 1.2 developing either 110, 130 or 145PS and mated to 6-speed manual transmission. And a 1.4 putting out 145PS which has to be had with a new 7-speed CVT auto 'box. All the engines develop reasonable pulling power, with outputs ranging between 195 and 236Nm. Vauxhall's particularly pleased with throttle response with these engines, claiming that 90% of their pulling power is available within 1.5 seconds of pressing the accelerator. The diesel engine is new too, a 1.5-litre three cylinder powerplant offered in two states of tune, 105PS and 122PS. The more potent unit gets the option of a new 9-speed auto gearbox. These engines feature an electrically-activated turbocharger with variable geometry turbine vanes and, similar to their petrol counterparts, a balance shaft in the block for additional refinement. Torque output figures vary between 260 to 300Nm.
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Category: Spacious Family Cars
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