The medium-sized Vauxhall Astra hatchback and estate has been a family favourite since 1979, and makes a practical and affordable buy.

The fifth version appeared in 2004 and was replaced in 2009, and is generally regarded as a big advance on its predecessors and good enough to compete favourably with its contemporary rivals, the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic.

Although the Astra was mainly sold as a five-door hatchback, a three door hatchback was available and called the Sport Hatch, while a capacious estate and convertible with a folding roof – the Astra TwinTop – also proved popular.

Find a used Vauxhall Astra for sale

Price range: £3,000 – £10,000

Being a Vauxhall, the car is backed up by a huge, well-established network of dealers, and thanks to it being one of Britain’s best-selling cars, there’s plenty of choice for used car buyers. So with a little detective work, finding the right version for your needs should be straightforward.

• Wide range of engines
• Big range of well-equipped models
• Choice of hatchbacks, an estate and a convertible TwinTop
• Big dealer network
• Five-star Euro NCAP safety rating
• Pleasant to drive

Pros

• Lots of choice
• Nice cabins
• Crash safety
• Big dealer network
• Attractively styled
• Comfortable and fun to drive

Cons

• Diesel engines less reliable than petrol engines
• Ford Focus is nicer to drive
• Loses value quickly
• Poor rear visibility
• Interior looks dated

What’s it good for?

• Families
• Retired people looking to downsize


Full gallery: Vauxhall Astra (2004-2009)


Vauxhall Astra (2004-2009) used car guide

Model highlights

Best for fuel costs – The small 1.3 diesels can return for almost 60 miles per gallon

Best value – Club models have plenty of airbags, air-conditioning and alloy wheels, but even basic Astras have anti-lock brakes, electric windows and central locking

Most reliable – 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol Astras give the least trouble

Fastest – The boy-racer’s favourite Astra, the VXRs can reach 150mph

Best for families – The 1.6 petrols offer a good mix of reliability, economy and power, and estates offer extra space

Best for short distances –1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol versions offer economy at a good price

Best for long distances The 1.9-litre diesel is powerful and well suited to eating motorway miles

Engine overview:

Petrol engines:

• 1.2 (88bhp/58mpg) – Engineered for economy, not motorway slogging
• 1.4 (89bhp/44mpg) – The Astra’s weight means the engine has to work hard
• 1.6 (113bhp/40mpg) – A good all rounder
• 1.8 (150bhp/34mpg) – Rapid, but isn’t very economical
• 2.0 (168bhp/31mpg) – As above, but more powerful
• 2.0 Turbo (240bhp/30.7mpg) – Genuine sports car performance, but very thirsty when driven hard

Diesel engines:

• 1.3 (90bhp/58mpg) –Offers improved performance and economy than older 1.7
• 1.7 (78bhp/57mpg) – Venerable engine majors on economy, not performance; Ecoflex models are the most economical
• 1.7 (100bhp/56.5mpg – Frugal, but offers improved performance over the low-power 1.7
• 1.9 (118bhp/48.7mpg) – Low-power 1.9 diesel is competent and frugal
• 1.9 (147bhp/50.4mpg) – More powerful 1.9 offers improved power and economy

Standard features

The models in the range, and the key standard equipment they feature:

Life – power steering, central locking, driver and passenger airbags, side airbags, central locking
Club – As Club plus air conditioning, alloy wheels, curtain airbags
Design – As Club plus automatic windscreen wipers, trip computer, half-leather trim
Elite – As Design plus all-leather interior, climate control, folding powered mirrors
SRI – Electronic stability control and optional adjustable suspension
VXR – Bespoke bodystyling, sports suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels

Special editions

Energy – Rear wash/wipe, pollen filter, lockable wheel nuts, seven speaker MP3 stereo/CD player
Active – 3-spoke leather covered steering wheel, air conditioning, chrome door handles, 60/40 folding rear seats, cornering brake control
Active Plus – As Active, plus black mesh grille, electric heated mirrors, heated front windscreen
Breeze – Body coloured bumpers, green tinted glass, self-adjusting headlamps, chrome grill and headlamp surrounds
Breeze Plus – As Breeze, plus 16-inch 7-spoke alloy wheels, emergency brake assist, body coloured bumpers, electric heated door mirrors
Breeze Digital – Steering wheel audio controls, bespoke cloth upholstery, illuminated glove box and boot, ‘theatre dimming’ interior lights
1.8i GTC 3dr – Multi-function display, aluminium pedals, chrome interior door handles, front sports seats, 3 point centre rear seat belt
VXR Nurburgring – As VXR, plus keyless entry and start, service indicator, alloy effect gear knob, Recaro front sports seats
VXR Arctic –As VXR, plus multi-function computer, black tinted rear glass, black mirror casings and door pillars, illuminated vanity mirrors, body kit

Buyers’ checks

This version of the Astra might not have a Golf-ike reputation for reliability, but most are lasting well. However there are some design weaknesses, particularly in diesel versions.

• Manual versions of the Astra can suffer from juddering clutches, so look for smooth acceleration, particularly starting from rest.
• Check service histories, especially for 1.9 diesels as cambelts and pulleys should be changed every 50,000 miles – a £300 job
• Diesel engine water pumps can fail so look for a record of replacement every 40,000 miles
• Radios can switch on, flattening batteries, so check it works as it should, when it should
• Rear electric window electrical connections can work loose so make sure they work; repairs should be straightforward
• Watch for noisy suspension on early cars as bushes can wear; check by pushing the car down on each corner, listening for clonks and bangs
• Check all the electrical bits, such as central locking, gauges, windscreen wipers work – they can be complicated to put right

For more general information, visit Inspecting a Used Car

Recalls

Occasionally car makers may recall certain models if manufacturing faults or defects could give rise to a serious problem.

Owners will be contacted to have the work completed free-of-charge, but used car buyers should always check the work has been carried out by contacting the local main dealer.

16/03/2005    Incorrect gear and steering knuckle fitted
06/04/2006    Possible loss of steering control

Find a used Vauxhall Astra for sale

Safety

The 2004-2009 Vauxhall Astra won five stars in EuroNCAP crash tests.

• Adult occupant protection: 5/5
• Child occupant protection: 4/5
• Pedestrian protection 1/4

Safety equipment highlights:

• Anti-lock brakes
• Driver, passenger and side airbags

• Front and rear door side impact beams

Running costs

Model: Vauxhall Astra Life 1.6 16v 5dr
• Fuel economy: 44mpg
• CO2 emissions: 155g/km
• Insurance group ratings: 12

Model: Vauxhall Astra 1.7 CDTi (100ps) 5dr
• Fuel economy: 55mpg
• CO2 emissions: 138g/km
• Insurance group ratings: 13

Rivals

Audi A3
Ford Focus
Honda Civic
Toyota Auris
Volkswagen Golf