The new Astra

I had never really been inspired by Astra’s of old, or Vauxhalls in general for that matter, but when the Astra H was released around 2005 I began to change my opinion. It was the VXR in particular that took my fancy, however being in my early 20’s it was a little out of my price range.

Jump forward a few years and my beloved mk3 golf GTI was starting to empty my wallet, and seemed to be spending more and more time up on a ramp. Enter then my new Astra sport hatch. So it’s not the VXR that I always wanted, but insurance and petrol prices are as much an issue as they always have been, so it was the lesser 1.6 design that I settled for.

So, what’s there to say about it? Well after 2 years of ownership I have found it extremely reliable. There haven’t been any break downs or non-starts to speak of (touch wood), servicing, tax and insurance are all reasonable and the drive is smooth and comfortable.

Being a 1.6 petrol it was never going to set the world alight, but it is nippy enough for around town. Some may question why I didn’t opt for a diesel in this modern age of cleaner, more economical diesel engines – the simple answer is, I just didn’t want one. The world and his wife can bang on all day about the obvious benefits there are in terms of fuel economy etc, but I still find them to be noisy, smelly, smokey, and quite frankly, not for me.  Interior finish is to a reasonable standard, and being the design spec it has part leather seats, which is nice!

With every car there are downsides, and the Astra is not without its faults. I have always preferred the look of three door cars, and still love the look of the Sport hatch – however there is always the big downside of people getting in and out of the back. This isn’t too big an issue on a day-to-day basis, but can prove frustrating when transporting more than one other person. The biggest issue by far with this car is the rear view visibility, you get some idea what it would be like to park a car whilst peering through your letter box, although it is something you do learn to live with.

Laying the Foundations

In our last episode, I put aside reliability and fuel consumption worries and took the plunge into rotary ownership. I ended saying the car needed some reliability mods before hitting Cadwell Park – but more of this later.

A Watched Pot Never Boils!

It's well known that the human perception of time is a dynamic sense, its passage seeming unbelievably quick when a good time is had, but very much the reverse when anticipating something exciting. Never truer when waiting for delivery of a shiny new GT-R