There are times where the Astra doesn’t feel like a 180PS hatchback, a figure that would have been considered plenty for a range-topper just a few years ago. While it feels rapid and punchy mid-range, accelerating from around 30-40mph, it doesn’t feel 180PS quick pulling away from the traffic lights. It’s more than adequate, though, especially around town.


Our car was also fitted with Vauxhall’s new £850 optional panoramic windscreen, that stretches solid glass over the driver’s head and back into the roofline, with no crossbeam between the front ‘A’ pillars as there is on a normal car. The sun can still be blocked by a sliding blind, but the innovative windscreen is unlike anything else currently on the market for the amount of light it lets into the cabin, even if it does take a little getting used to. Vauxhall says it only weighs an extra 10kg over the standard car, and the 6mm thick laminated glass is 20% thicker so should be more damage-resistant.

The new turbocharged engine will, according to whole-life costs provider Topcalc, cost an extra 1.9 pence per mile compared with the 140PS 1.8 that starts out nearly £2000 cheaper. That’s a price worth paying for an understated almost-hot hatch.