The new Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer (2022-) is quite a looker. A long – and welcome – departure from Vauxhall’s styling of old, this estate has genuinely desirable looks inside and out, and a more upmarket feel.
We’ve driven the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model to see if it has the performance and practicality to match the aesthetics. Here’s our first drive review of the new Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer PHEV (2022-).
Note that this review is based on our initial drive of the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer. Our full review and verdict (complete with the car's overall score, plus scores for safety, reliability and more) will be available to Which? members once all our are complete.
This car combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an 81kW electric motor for a total power output of 180hp. The 12.4kWh battery in the PHEV has an official range of 42 miles and should reach 84mph on battery power alone.
The car is also available with traditional petrol and diesel engines, and an all-electric version is due to come out in 2023.
Vauxhall has put some work into simplifying its model line-ups, and as such there are two trims to choose from launch: entry-level Design and the better-equipped GS Line. A third, range-topping Ultimate trim will also be available in the future, bringing it into line with the hatchback version of the same car.
All cars come with essentials such as autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist and speed sign detection, as well as creature comforts including front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, climate control and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
With the GS Line, you get advancements such as adaptive cruise control, 360-degree parking camera, dual-zone climate control and heated seats among other bits.
The first thing we noticed about this PHEV was just how smooth and quiet it is. Regardless of whether it’s running purely on battery power or if it’s in hybrid mode, the car accelerates without jerking or idling, just progressively layering on acceleration without urge or fuss.
If you want to blend sporty performance and dynamic handling with your practical estate, look elsewhere. This car accelerates in a controlled and predictable manner; however, jam your foot to the floor and you’ll quickly find the car’s limits. That’s not a bad thing, though – this is a cruiser for soaking up miles, not a speedster to throw around sharp corners at a clip.
Try to corner too quickly in the PHEV and you’ll feel the weight of the car working against you. Corner as you’re meant to and it handles perfectly well.
More important, certainly for estate owners, the ride quality is good at high speeds. Our surveys tell us that estate drivers do more miles than anyone else, so a motorway-orientated drive experience is likely to be appreciated. It’s a bit bumpier at lower speeds, but never uncomfortable.
During our first drive, we rarely heard the 1.6-litre petrol engine unless accelerating strongly. As soon as we settled down into a cruise, engine noise vanished entirely.
There is also very little in the way of wind or road noise. This quiet, super-smooth drive gives the car a noticeable air of refinement and quality, even at motorway speeds – another tick for this as an excellent road-trip companion.
We also drove the PHEV with an empty battery, but even with the car now operating as a full hybrid as opposed to a PHEV, it didn’t struggle with motorway speeds and maintained good acceleration. Emissions and fuel economy would have worsened – although by how much, we’ll see when we get it into the lab at a later date.
Pressing the B button activates the increased regenerative braking mode and slows the car whenever you lift your foot off the accelerator, as it recaptures energy for the hybrid batteries.
The regenerative braking is reasonably strong, and allows for single-pedal driving in cruising traffic, but it’s not adequate for stop-start traffic. Unlike some cars, the brake lights will not come on as soon as you lift your foot off the accelerator.
We also drove the petrol and diesel versions of the same car. While the 130hp diesel engine was nearly as quiet and responsive as the PHEV, the non-PHEV petrol version was noticeably louder, and – typical of three-cylinder engines – sounded rougher too.
The interior is eye-catching: the combination of materials, angular design and strong lines make for a sleek and interesting cabin. The centrepiece is arguably the Pure Panel driver display. This comprises two 10in screens next to each other: the first is the digital instrument cluster directly in front of the driver, while the second one, the general media/infotainment and satnav screen, stretches into the centre of the car but is angled toward the driver.
The result is a driver-orientated, wraparound-style display that adds to the premium feel of this car. It’s a striking centrepiece, the screens are sharp, the touchscreen responsive and, unlike some manufacturers, Vauxhall has elected to keep some physical buttons for basic features including the air-con temperature settings. It’s something we welcome, as it means the driver is less distracted.
Like many modern cars, the rear window pillars (the columns of metal between windows) are quite wide, which does impair natural visibility. The front and rear sensors as standard will help when manoeuvring.
The Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer is too new for us to question its owners on reliability. However, we did hear from enough Vauxhall owners in our latest car survey to judge the reliability of the brand as a whole.
We’ll measure the car when we get it into the lab, but with the front seat set up for a 6ft driver, the same sized passenger sitting on the rear seat behind them will have decent leg, feet and head space.
To the eye, and the claimed specs, the boot is large, and the rear seats fold down individually (a 40:20:40 split), which is useful. You can drop the rear seats down directly from the boot by pulling switches.
The non-PHEV versions claim to have nearly 600 litres of space with the seats up. To get the maximum amount of space, you can lower the variable boot floor and drop the seats to get the maximum of 1,634 litres of space – a massive loading area.
The PHEV version is 80 litres smaller, with the batteries tak ingup some of the space under the boot. You also lose the variable boot floor, ie it cannot be moved down.
In the non-PHEV version, the boot cover can be removed and has special storage anchors under the variable boot floor (or on top of it if the boot floor if it is in the lower position), so no more balancing it on top of too much luggage, or leaving it at home before a big road trip. Unfortunately, this doesn't feature on the PHEV version because of the batteries under the floor.
Typical of PHEVs, the Astra plug-in has a fanciful official mpg of 256. For a more realistic figure, and to find out what the fuel economy drops to when the battery is flat, we’ll get this car into our lab at a later date.
The regular diesel and petrol versions have more relatable figures. The diesel claims a fuel economy between 61.4mpg and 62.8mpg depending on spec, and the petrol engine should provide 49.5mpg to 50.4mpg for the 130hp engine, or 51.4mpg for the 110hp option.
The Astra comes well equipped, with various assistance systems including front-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, simple speed-sign recognition, pedestrian detection, cruise control and long-range blind-spot detection. Read our to find out about these and more.
The GS Line has advanced features including more sophisticated traffic-sign recognition and cruise control is adaptive. This means you can set your maximum speed and the space between you and the next car, so if the car in front of you slows down, you will too and maintain that distance. It will also automatically speed up once the car gets moving again.
Active steering assist will keep you in lane, but don’t let go of the wheel – regardless of how well a car can steer itself, autonomy is not here yet and you need to remain in control of the vehicle.
The hatchback version of the Astra got a reasonable four stars out of five from Euro NCAP, but the same rating does not carry over to the estate version.
Price: From £25,515
Which? first drive verdict: Impressive PHEV estate with an upmarket feel.