Our Fleet Test Drive: Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer - Final report
13 March 2012
Author: Hugh Hunston
The remit when our Sports Tourer arrived last summer was to gauge if Vauxhall's lower medium sector estate had shrugged off the mantle of previous Astra wagons - namely being dull but worthy, and designed for work and not much for pleasure or status.
More than 4200 miles and six months later the verdict is positive, helped considerably by this example coming in smart-looking, well-specified SRi form, which by virtue of a sports chassis format combined aesthetic appeal with decent driving dynamics.
Embodying Vauxhall's 'blade' styling theme with curved sculpted bodylines, and incorporating daytime running lights  that enhanced an otherwise anonymous nose treatment, the estate breaks with its predecessor's boxy, utilitarian profile at the marginal cost of losing 10 litres of stowage space.
That form-over-function compromise still left a substantial 1550 litres of up to the roof loading space with the rear seats, folded easily via quick release buttons, down . The car also came with a one-touch boot cover release and an optional £110 flex-organiser for dividing up the luggage area.
While SRi equipment levels were more than adequate for the £22,730 P11D pricing, our car came loaded with £1940 worth of extras including the flex-organiser - from an excellent DAB radio  at £115, to £395 front and rear parking sensors that paid for themselves at least once in avoiding the crunching of concealed obstructions after dark.
The satnav added £835 and, once I was aware that the outer ring of the central control dial was key to its operation, it proved effective and fairly intuitive. Fascia and controls, in terms of materials and ergonomics, marked a major advance over the drab, disjointed nature of its predecessors, although an elusive squeak persisted in a plastic-to-plastic joint, as fit did not match finish.
With lowered and stiffer suspension, 17-inch alloys and a flexible, muscular 125hp diesel engine, the Sports Tourer felt more balanced than its hatchback counterpart, and loads did not upset its composure.
Theoretically, the 56-litre fuel tank and circa-63mpg official diesel consumption should have provided real-world 50mpg and 600-mile range capabilities, but we managed an underwhelming 46mpg.
However, below par fuel consumption apart, our departed Astra was strong on driving appeal and well-executed practicality, and is far removed from the glorified vans with windows of not so long ago.
|Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.7 CDTi SRi|
|Our average |
|Actual CPM||56.4p |
|Why we’re |
|To see if the latest |
Astra wagon can shake off
its predecessors’ stigma of
being a utilitarian workhorse.
|Positive||Looks good, drives |
|Negative||Disappointing real-world |