In bends, it does a good job of resisting body lean while offering you lots of grip. It weighs significantly less than last time too, which further strengthens its on-road abilities. No complaints at all about the way this car drives.
The engine range is rich in choice. Petrol engines include a naturally aspirated 99bhp 1.4-litre four-pot, a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-pot 104bhp, a 1.6-litre turbocharged 197bhp – plus lots more. Some are remarkably quick too, with the 1.4-litre 123bhp able to get you from rest to 62mph in just 8.2 seconds. The 1.6-litre 197bhp does it a whole second quicker.
There are a handful of diesel engines to choose from too, and all offer event performance. Our top pick is a 1.6-litre 134bhp. This the mid-range diesel engine that is both performative and cheap to run – fuel economy returns veer between 63 and 74mpg if you opt for an automatic or manual transmission.
The cheapest engine to run, though, is a 1.6-litre 108bhp unit that can achieve returns of 83mpg while costing you nothing in road tax.
The cabin is vastly improved. All of a sudden, the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer feels upmarket, both in terms of the quality of its materials and its design. The driving position is fab, the dash is visually striking and easy to use, whole the Intellilink infotainment system is a highlight. It’s minimal and smart.
In terms of practicality, the Vauxhall fares reasonably well. The 540-litre boot is far from being class-leading, but it’s still usable. Moreover, there are lots of other storage spaces to be found in the cabin, including plenty of cubbyholes, a good-sized glovebox and good-sized door bins. Leg and headroom is good upfront and in the back, and wide-opening doors make it easy for your kids to get in and out.
Ford – £17,160 – £27,710
Vauxhall – £17,200 – £25,500