THERE was a time not so long ago that the company car list was all about the black pump, but these days it’s different.
These days you’ve got hatchbacks, SUVs and estates, petrols, diesels, hybrids and fully-electric motors. You have an overwhelming choice.
这 Vauxhall Astra has been in the mix for decades, but in its latest form ticks quite a few of those boxes.
We’ve already driven the hatchback Astra and now we’re driving this Sports Tourer estate.
It comes in, 汽油, diesel and plug-in hybrid forms, plus a fully electric one arrives next year. That six boxes for those not keeping count.
It’s up against equivalent load-luggers from Ford, Seat, VW and Skoda so let’s start with the two most important things: how it looks and what the boot is like.
Design is subjective but we reckon Vauxhall has done a top job. The Sports Tourer certainly turns heads out on the road.
Even in entry-level Design trim it looks the part with Vauxhall’s sharp ‘vizor’ grille and piercing headlights.
A GS line model gets black wheels and exterior accents for a sportier look and range-topping Ultimate dials up the luxury with more chrome.
Around the back, the Sports Tourer’s boot is a whopping 597 litres, has a usefully square floor with a flexible floor and levers to flip down the rear seats which leaves a van-like space.
For context, seats up, the Astra ST’s boot is bigger than Ford Focus Estate’s, is as near as makes no difference to a VW Golf Estate’s and is only slightly behind the biggest-of-the-bunch Skoda Octavia Estate’s.
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Vauxhall’s 130hp petrol is perfect for private buyers, with plenty of punch and decent fuel economy. It works better with the eight-speed automatic gearbox than the six-speed manual.
The 130hp diesel is stronger from low revs, goes much further on a tank and is nicely hushed for a derv, but I’d have more luck trying to defend Boris Johnson’s treehouse than convince you back to the black pump.
That’s because diesel is now a dirty word if you’re going to run an Astra ST through work, it just has to be the plug-in hybrid.
It’ll go 42 miles on electric, charges from a wall box in two hours and costs peanuts in company car tax thanks to a tiny CO2 figure. So much so, it’ll save you thousands every year versus the petrol and diesel models.
To drive, the ST is comfy, quiet and grippy. The Ford Focus and Seat Leon are more fun, but less relaxing, which goes a long way in a car like this.
Inside space and comfort in the front are great but rear leg room is tight for adults – a Skoda Octavia Estate is much better in that regard.
仍然, most versions of the Astra ST come with twin 10-inch screens for your dials and infotainment plus wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across the range for a superior digital experience to its rivals.
And it’s keenly priced too. PCP finance starts at just £279 a month from Vauxhall but you’re likely to find cheaper elsewhere in time and a starting price of just over £25,000 broadly in line with the others.
Which leaves the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer in a strong position within a very strong field of estates. If you love the looks, you’ll love living with it every day.