Ride quality and grip is also good, while the steering is precise and light.
In terms of the petrol engines, there are five to pick from. As we said, the 1.4-litre 98bhp unit is worth overlooking but a 1.0-litre turbo develops 104bhp and is a good choice. It does 0-62 in 10.5 seconds and boasts decent running costs and a relaxed experience.
A 1.4-litre turbo engine sits in the middle of the range with its 123bhp, while a 148bhp variant of the same engine is also well worth a look. If, however, you want as much performance from an Astra as possible, a 1.6-litre engine squeezes out 197bhp and has a 0-62 time of 6.6 seconds.
Running costs? The 1.0-litre turbo is the most frugal petrol engine, with its returns of 64.2mpg. The turbocharged 1.4-litre engine manages 51.4mpg while emitting 128g/km of CO2, and the range-topping 1.6-litre unit is good for 46.3mpg at best.
Inside, the Astra is stylish enough to be able to rival the BMW. It looks better than ever and Vauxhall has splashed out on a copious amount of soft-touch plastics that make it feel high quality.
A big touchscreen dominates the dashboard and it gets Apple CarPlay compatibility as standard. Bright chrome-effect and piano-black trims surround it, and the infotainment system does a good job of freeing the dashboard of button clutter.
Is the Vauxhall Astra practical? Buyers have always appreciated its usability and once again it’s pretty accommodating. Five adults could squeeze in but four will be much more comfortable and rear space is good. In fact, there’s now 35mm extra knee room than last time.
Headroom is also good, as is rear-seat access, while the usual storage spaces are present and correct.
The boot, meanwhile, is the same size as last time and measures 370-litres.
BMW – £24,905 – £34,885
Vauxhall – £17,115 – £27,415