I will try my best to provide detailed info on various cars and what is like to live with them, I have already produced a few for Jaguar-car-forums, I will do my best to be unbiased, but it will be hard for some cars. I will re-produce press releases and copy from other motoring news.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

TMW - The European Car of the Year is the Astra, and we test it, to see what the fuss is all about, and it is very very good.

When a car has been awarded the European Car of the Year Award, you have some preconceived idea's of what the car is like, and i was in that class, my parents had owned a previous model Astra, a Mark III model mind you, but they loved it, and though it was the best car they had owned, until they bought their latest car, the Vauxhall Mokka SE.

But the car here is another leap ahead, even of the Mokka and previous gen Astra, and that's why it won the best award around, before you even get in the car you are in awe of its looks, the lines flow from front to back and that kink between boot and rear door makes the back end stand out as something different, the lights are designed to be a part of the design and not just to fit in with a design, which a lot of cars tend to do these days.
The click of the key fob unlocks the doors and the sound is a muffled sturdy clunk, it sounds like it is from a more premium brand, the doors to open and shut with a solid thud, rather than a clang, and again you expect that from a more premium brand, once inside, the ergonomics of the switchgear, buttons and dials are all near and handy, no stretching here to use anything, and long gone are the days when Vauxhall had dozens of buttons, it's now clear and clean, where the vast majority of operations are now completed through the intelligent and easy to use touchscreen system.

Getting comfortable is easy with plenty of directional options for seats and steering wheel, so even the biggest or smallest can get comfortable quickly, once the car has started you are greeted with a near silent tick over once the car has warmed up, and the day I had the Astra, just happened to be the hottest day of the year, so getting the engine to optimum operating temperature was very quickly achieved, and setting the sat nav for somewhere to go to take some pictures of the car was also very easy to do, it is one of the simplest Sat Navs I have come across so far.

The car, although a 1.4 litre was quick to pull away and kept up with fast moving traffic very easily, and all without any trouble or need to knock the gearbox up and down to maintain it's speed, whether you were at 30 or 70mph, the car was very quiet with little road noise intrusion, you do get s little wind noise around the over sized wing mirrors, but that seems to be the case with nearly all cars these days.

The car that I had for test was the , I am glad they don't put all that on the back of cars these days, there wouldn't be enough room, but those three letters SRi mean you are getting something a little special and a little more sporty than the normal model, and it does not fail to deliver, and with the quick get away you get a good set of brakes to slow you down to avoid getting into any trouble, the lightness of the power steering can occasionally feel a little vague, if turning whilst pulling away, but once on the go, you get a lot of feedback from the wheel, and there is little to no under or over steer, there is even unnoticeable torque steer too, which gives the car a stable steady feel.

The interior of the car is quite sombre with lots of black, but again, this is the norm these days, however what you don't get with most cars is lots of soft touch plastics, leather wrapped steering wheel and gear stick gaiter, nice to feel handles, Switches and buttons, the interior really is a great place to be, you will feel at home very quickly here, and again that's a huge plus point and another reason why this car won the top European prize, and many others too, all well deserved.

Space in the back is quite good too, but longer journeys might be a little off putting for those that have to sit in black everything, seats are supportive, and leg room too is quite good, being just shy of six feet myself, I put the front seat where i need it and i still managed to get in the back, and have room to be comfortable.

Boot space is great, plenty of that, and with the seats down you will be forgiven that you're
   not in the estate version, as it seems so big, the boot door does open quite a high, and short people might have an issue reaching it, but again, this is the norm these days, and to be honest, who has not had a chuckle at someone trying to reach the tailgate to shut and failing, or is that just me.

Would I have one, Yes I would if I were in this market for a car, however, I prefer the more upright style car, so the Mokka or Meriva/Zafira would be my cup of tea, but it is a  very close call, the car is just so good, that anyone that does not consider it when they are in the market for a car in this class, must be very short sighted, after all, they don't just give away European Car Of The Year Awards to every car company, and this is really well deserved.

The Motoring World Blog
Jon Mower