It may be getting long in the tooth, but a visit to the dentist has improved the Vauxhall Astra 1.4 GLS Main factor is a new engine, with the advanced 16-valve head as used in the Corsa and Tigra. Easy-revving, smooth and quiet, it brings the old-timer bang up to date and puts it on par with more modern models in many respects. According to Vauxhall, acceleration from 0-60 takes 12 seconds and top speed is 110 mph. The liveliness of the engine is complemented by a light clutch and positive but easy 5-speed gear change with a good choice of ratios. The brakes are adequate for their job but the power steering is above expectations for a small family hatchback, making effortless work of parking but retaining excellent feel at speed, when the car is not at all twitchy. Minor controls are convenient to use if poorly marked, but the secondary switches can be more puzzling. Simple instrumentation is sparingly marked but fairly clear, and supported by a range of warning lights. The facia now needs a careful redesign to bring it up to date. More than any other feature of the Astra, the interior is now letting it down badly after so much has been done in other areas. Oddments space is reasonable in front or back and the 13 cu ft boot is a decent size even before the seats are folded down which more than triples the capacity. The cabin is short on rear seat legroom but good on headroom and the front seats provide plenty of room to stretch. All the seats are fairly well shaped and locate the occupants well. Ride quality is slightly firm over some roads, but given a good surface it's smooth unless the car is heavily laden, when it crashes into potholes and jars the interior. Visibility is reasonable but some blind spots are apparent when looking over your shoulder. There's a good forward and side view, with slim pillars. Standard equipment includes body-coloured bumpers, front fog lights, velour trim, rear head restraints, driver's
airbag, central deadlocking/immobiliser, electric mirrors and front windows. Noise levels are low apart from occasional crashing from the suspension, and the engine when it's really working hard. But it seemed to enjoy hard work, with lively but not fast acceleration, smooth motorway performance and very good all-round fuel consumption - I recorded 36 mpg overall. It certainly feels more composed and relaxed on the move and yet possesses good responsiveness when required. Without doubt, the new engine means Vauxhall has a very strong player in its ranks in the shape of the latest Astra, and it has even given it a brighter smile with a new grille.
we aquired our astra in march 2000. we were lucky to get the new 2000 model, which came with electric windows as standard , but unfortunately only in the front. we have had no teething troubles at all , and on the whole we have been very pleased with it. although vauxhall have made good use of space , it is still a small car , and leg room and storage space are not great. i also keep getting the tip of my shoe caught when using the pedals. a very annoying thing about the astra is that the cassette does not have auto- reverse. this may seem like a petty complaint if you do not listen to alot of tapes , but it really is very distracting having to keep turning the tape over. i never even thought to check this when we first looked at the car , as i thought they had stopped making cassettes without auto- reverse around fifteen years ago ! another disadvantage of the astra is that it is designed for very small people. i am only average height, but i was unable to get my legs under the steering wheel , so we had to have an adjustable column put in at extra cost. it is quite a nippy little car when using the sports button, and the ride is fairly smooth. i have an automatic, and the gear changes are not as smooth as they could be. in the bigger automatics i have driven , you could not tell you were changing gear at all. having said that , it is certainly the smoothest small car i have been in. it is very , very economical. it is quite difficult to park , as you cannot see the bonnet , but its small size makes up for this , as you can get into small spaces. overall, although it has its faults , it really is a very good car.