A car has to be seriously popular to thrive for seven (now eight) generations, yet that’s precisely what the Vauxhall Astra has managed.
How has it done this? Basically, by being pretty good at almost everything. And that applies just as much if you intend to use this long-established, reliable vehicle for towing.
What’s a Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer like inside?
When you’re looking for the best used tow car, the interior space is always an important consideration. Vauxhall managed to pull off a neat trick when it originally launched the seventh-generation Astra, because this model was able to offer more space inside the car, while retaining exterior dimensions that were almost the same as those of its predecessor.
Having said that, it still isn’t as spacious as some rivals, such as the Škoda Octavia. Nevertheless, the Astra is a pretty roomy machine, so two warring teens will be quite happy in the back seat, and won’t have to be in too close proximity to one another. Three would be a bit more of a squeeze – so the centre passenger would have to be the mediator.
Up front, two adults will be perfectly comfortable, and there’s loads of seat and steering-wheel adjustment for the driver to find the ideal driving position.
The 540-litre boot is a reasonable size (although again, it’s nowhere near as big as that in a 610-litre Škoda Octavia), and is a good, rectangular shape. It’s easy to fold down the 60/40 split rear seats using levers at each side of the load bay, and these leave a flat area. The low loading lip enhances the boot’s ease of use and is useful for storing all those caravan essentials.
It all feels well put together, too, with dials and levers that move with a classy, damped action. Even entry-level Design cars come with cruise control and air-con, while Tech Line adds sat nav. SE has heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
How does a Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer drive?
There are numerous petrols and diesels available in the range, but we think the best balance of usability and frugality is found in the 158bhp 1.6-litre twin-turbodiesel. For a start, it produces 258lb ft of torque, so isn’t fazed by towing a heavier caravan.
We timed it from 50-60mph in 10.1 seconds in fifth gear, showing just how punchy it is when towing. In addition, the electronic handbrake makes hill starts simple.
Stability is a crucial factor when choosing the best caravan tow car. If there’s one weak point here, it’s that crosswinds can unsettle the car slightly, although sudden lane changes don’t upset the Vauxhall’s equilibrium at all.
The Astra also excels when driven solo, handling well, and the steering is crisp, albeit with almost no feedback, while the tow car suspension is firm, not harsh. Better still, engine, wind and road noises are all muted.
What will a Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer tow?
- Kerbweight: 1435kg
- Towing limit: 1700kg
- Noseweight limit: 75kg
- 85% match: 1220kg
- 3.0 TDI Quattro SE
- Insurance group: 13
- Annual VED: £180
- Average economy: 67.3mpg
- Interim/full service: £71/£96
Servicing prices supplied by Servicing Stop, 0844 324 5262
Vauxhall was forced to recall 37,167 examples of the Astra because of a fault with the braking system.
A further 713 cars were recalled because of potentially faulty front brake pipes, although these were all vehicles converted for police use.
An incorrectly welded front seatback forced 1688 cars back to dealers. Then a tiny number of cars were recalled because the rear wheel bolts weren’t tight enough.
A full list of recalls can be found at check-vehicle-recalls.service.gov.uk.
What to pay for a Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer
- High: Price: £19,350; Model: 2021 1.4i Turbo Sri Nav; Miles: 5500
- Sweet spot: Price: £11,370; Model: 2019 1.6 CDTi Tech Line; Miles: 37,500 miles
- Low: Price: £3500; Model: 2017 1.6 CDTi Design; Miles: 160,000
The Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer is a capable and spacious car that will cope with anything your towing life can throw at it. That’s how you get to be seven generations old.
Interested in some towing inspiration? Then check out our best 4×4 for towing a caravan guide.
Alternatives to the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer:
Ford Focus Estate (2011-2018)
The Ford Focus is fun to drive and well equipped, its running costs won’t break the bank, and there is a Ford dealer on every second street corner. The boot is a good shape with a low loading lip, but there’s no escaping the fact that it’s significantly smaller than those of its major rivals, such as the Astra and Škoda Octavia.
Seat Leon X-Perience (2013-2020)
The Leon X-Perience is a four-wheel-drive, lifestyle version of the Leon ST estate. So it’s pretty much ideal for tow car drivers, as it does everything the Leon ST can do, being roomy, well equipped and budget friendly – with an added dose of four-wheel-drive ability that will make all the difference on a slippery campsite pitch.
Škoda Octavia Estate (2013-2020)
This is the big one. No, really, it is – it has a boot capacity which dwarfs that of many rivals, including the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer. As an all-rounder, the Škoda is pretty much unbeatable, such is its blend of space in both boot and seating, and its superb roster of kit, low running costs and sheer comfort. On top of that, it feels rather classy, too.
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