Vauxhall Astra Ultimate parked in woodland area
Ryan Darby

Ryan Darby

Ryan takes the lead on all things 'wordy'. With a sports media background, a true passion for cars, and a LOT of driving experience under his belt, he'll make sure you have all the information you need, when you need it.

Read time of 7 minutes.

Vauxhall set their sights on established rivals with premium additions to the Astra

The Vauxhall Astra is a timeless classic on UK roads and ever since its original launch way back in 1980, it has come a long way.

The latest iteration of the Astra – now in its eighth generation - could go on to be one of the most important in the model’s history, with Vauxhall implementing a major facelift back in 2021.

With sleek and stylish new looks, the Astra has been reinvigorated with some of its premium rivals now in its sights.

Historically, the Astra rivals the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf but following the latest round of updates, some could even argue it is edging ever closer to becoming an affordable BMW 1 Series alternative.

Can it close in on the established German heavyweights? We wanted to find out more.

What did we drive?

Model: 1.2L Turbo 130 Ultimate 5dr

Transmission: Automatic

Power: 130PS - Petrol

Colour: Carbon Black

OTR: From £26,610

Price of model driven: £35,115

*Prices correct at the time of publication

Front profile of the 2023 Vauxhall Astra


The Vauxhall Astra starts from £26,610 with the entry-level Design specification. This can range up to at least £34,165 for the Ultimate trim we were testing.

Compared to its rivals, the price is nearly identical to that of the Volkswagen Golf, which starts from £26,565. With an array of spec levels and anniversary additions, the Golf can rise all the way up to £49,735 – making it one of the more premium hatchbacks available.

The Ford Focus starts from £27,080, rising to £36,950, which makes it marginally the most expensive of the three. The BMW 1 Series won’t be too far from the Astra’s thoughts, starting from £28,290 for the entry-level SE model.

For those who would prefer to spread that cost into a more affordable driving experience, a Vauxhall Astra lease deal allows you to pay fixed monthly payments over a set duration.

One of the many benefits of choosing car leasing as your financing method is that it allows you to access more premium models, like the BMW 1 Series or even this Astra, for less. 

Vauxhall Astra parked in woodland forest


Today, we’re focusing on this stunning petrol variant in Carbon Black, but the Vauxhall Astra is also available as a plug-in hybrid, fully electric and performance model.

Powering this version of the Astra is a 130PS 1.2L Turbo petrol engine and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

It’s the most powerful of the two petrol engines that are available for this hatchback variant.

Entry-level Design models are available with either a 1.2L Turbo 110HP engine and a six-speed manual gearbox, or the increased 1.2L Turbo 130HP engine, with a manual or automatic gearbox.

GS and Ultimate trim levels are only available with the 130HP engine but can be either manual or automatic.


Thanks to the Turbo petrol engine, the Astra has more than enough oomph for those trips in and around town.

With this Ultimate spec, we had the eight-speed automatic gearbox, which for the most part was responsive enough, but did sometimes feel like it was holding onto a higher gear for just that bit too long.

Paddle Shifters come as standard on automatic and plug-in hybrid models for those who want a more involving driving experience.

It handles corners nicely with decent grip, but the engine can be on the louder side when compared to its rivals.

The compact nature of the cabin does give the driver the impression of being hugged behind the wheel for a more engaging drive. However, if you’d like to step this up a notch, you’ll need to look at the Astra GSe, which offers 225PS and its own unique suspension for more agile handling.

Design & Interior

The biggest change to the Astra is in its aesthetics and the difference from its predecessor is night and day.

Best shown in this stunning Ultimate specification, the combination of the black detailing and Carbon Black colour scheme makes the Astra look and feel exclusive and premium.

Complimented beautifully by the 18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, it offers stance and presence from a hatchback that was previously in danger of fading into the background of family hatchbacks.

A comparison between the 2022 Vauxhall Astra and 2019 Vauxhall Astra

Pictured: Eight generation (2022) Vauxhall Astra vs Seventh generation (2019)

Step inside the interior and the quality levels remain high. The cabin is filled with soft-touch leathers and suede materials, enhancing the step up in quality that Vauxhall are trying to make.

Comfort levels were plush enough for a family hatchback, so long motorway journeys will pass you by.

A piano black finish to the centre console was one of a few disappointing features. While sleek and gleaming when clean, it quickly looked grubby and covered in finger prints, taking some of the shine off the otherwise impressive cabin.

As interior quality goes, it's not yet matching that of BMW when it comes to materials, but relative to Vauxhall's history, it does feel much closer to premium.

Vauxhall Astra boot space

Space & Practicality

As one of the classic family car choices, the Astra needs to be practical inside and that it is.

Up front in the cabin, there’s plenty of storage potential, including a fold out case for sunglasses, a cubby hole for keys, two drinks holders, a decent size armrest compartment and space to hide away the wireless charging pad.

The Astra also offers competitive door bins and a reasonably size glove box, essential for the everyday bits and pieces.

Elsewhere in the cabin, the addition of the sunroof does add some much-needed light into what would have been a dark, gloomy cabin.

The downside to that is you do lose some of the headroom that would’ve been available. What this does mean is that taller passengers above six foot might feel the squeeze on longer journeys. You do sit quite low into the seat, so this does help that, especially for the driver.

The Vauxhall Astra’s boot space is 422L for this version, which puts it up there with the best family hatchbacks.

Not only is it bigger than the space on offer in the Ford Focus (370L) and the Volkswagen Golf (375L), but it is also larger than many compact SUVs like the SEAT Arona (400L).

There’s a flexible boot floor to give you some level of versatility when it comes to depth, as well as your usual hooks and tie down points. There’s also potential for some through loading, something that feels like it is becoming increasingly rare in family hatchbacks.

Vauxhall Astra touchscreen


The new look cockpit helps create the immersive driving experience that the Astra provides.

The highlights are the 10-inch instrument cluster and 10-inch centre touchscreen. The biggest compliment we can give it, is that our first thought went to the new wrap-around screens you see in the fantastic BMW i4.

The system itself is a laid out in a block style menu, making it easy to jump through your relevant menus. There’s also wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, wireless charging and three USB ports dotted around the car.

Visually, it’s not the most advanced system you’ll find on the road and it’s here where the Astra will fall behind its rivals, especially if Vauxhall do want to target the more premium end of the market.

To use, it’s very responsive and there are a lot of shortcut buttons to make use of, so it’s by no means a bad system, but falls short of the alternatives.

The driver’s display gives you all the standard information you could ask for, but much like the infotainment screen, is not as advanced as some of its rivals on the market.


During its Euro NCAP safety test, the Vauxhall Astra scored four stars, with an adult occupant score of 80% and a child occupant score of 82%.

Hill start assist, in crash braking and Cornering brake control are among the many safety and security features that come as standard with the Astra. 

Model Lines & Equipment

Design – from £26,960

  • Pure Panel - 10-inch colour touchscreen and 10-inch digital instrument cluster with wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Keyless start
  • Single zone climate control with pollen filter
  • Electrically operated front and rear windows
  • Speed sign recognition
  • 2 USB Connection

GS – from £29,855

(In addition to/replacement from Design)

  • Pure Panel Pro - 10-inch colour touchscreen and 10-inch digital instrument cluster with wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
  • 17" Alloy Wheels
  • Keyless Entry & Start
  • Heated Seats & Steering wheel, Driver AGR
  • Front & rear parking sensors and Intelli-Vision
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Active cruise control

Ultimate – from £32,970

(In addition to/replacement from GS)

  • 18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels
  • Panoramic Sunroof
  • Intelli-Drive 1.0
  • IntelliLux Pixel Headlights
  • Heated windscreen
  • Alcantara suede seats, AGR front seats


This latest edition of the Vauxhall Astra represents a major step forward for the model and it bridges the gap between itself and something more premium.

For now, it remains behind the curve of the likes of the 1 Series, but with its modern looks and sleek interior, the Astra is well on its way.

Thanks to the improvements made in the quality of materials and design, this latest Astra does feel premium, relative to where the Astra has come from. 

Don't miss out on the best prices for a Vauxhall Astra lease