Vauxhall Astra SXi

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Description: Looking for a used Vauxhall Astra? Search a huge range of second-hand cars on AA Cars from our network of UK dealers - all with free AA breakdown cover.

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First launched over thirty years ago, the Vauxhall Astra is a leader in the small family market. A mix of agility, practicality and refinement, it sets the benchmark for what a functional family car can achieve.

Now into its sixth generation, its success is largely based on its ability to effectively satisfy the needs of a family while still offering good handling and excitement. Along with good looks and a focus on quality finishings, the Astra continues to go from strength to strength today.

When it was launched in 1979, the Astra was the first car in the Vauxhall range to feature front wheel drive. With dwindling sales figures, the new model brought about a turn of favour for Vauxhall, and the Astra was soon the second most popular small family car in Britain, behind the Ford Escort. From 1981 onwards it has consistently been one of the UK's top selling cars, leading the field for small family cars.

Excelling in a number of areas, the Astra's success is largely - like the rest of the Vauxhall range - due to its practicality and the quality of its design. Astras have maintained a chic aesthetic across all generations, and while the interiors of older models might feel a little dated, the modern models are fitted with class-leading equipment and finishings.

The Astra's space is very good, especially in the most recent models, which not only contend with those in its own class, but those above it. The 375 litre boot in the sixth generation model doesn't make it the biggest in its class in terms of luggage space, but the cabin is sizeable, and in this way is closer to its bigger brother the Insignia than it may look from the outside. An estate option pushes the boot space up to 500 litres, which certainly makes it one of the most practically versatile cars in its class.

Owing to its popularity, there are a number of different performance options, ranging from the 1.2 litre petrol engines featured in previous generations, to the 2.0 litre turbocharged options found in models across the fleet. Of the best performing is the 1.4 turbo, which packs in a decent level of power considering its size and efficiency.

This efficiency is shared across much of the range, especially the frugal diesels, which also feature eco-flex technology, keeping emissions low and mpg returns high. The 1.3 diesel eco-flex offers a reported mpg figure of over 70, while emissions are kept under the 100g/km, road-tax-exempt threshold.

While the cost of an Astra from new may put many buyers off, an initially rapid depreciation means that they are at their best value when on the used market. As there are so many on UK roads, this also means that finding a bargain is a very real possibility.

Dual zone electronic climate control, heated front seats, sports front seats, cruise control, steering mounted audio controls, rain-sensing wipers, multi-function trip computer, chrome-effect styling features, ESP, driver and passenger's, front seat side-impact and curtain airbags, 17" 10-spoke alloy wheels, air conditioning, radio/CD player with MP3 capabilities and AUX connection.

Astras, like their manufacturer Vauxhall, are well-built, reliable cars, but do keep an eye out for some of these commonly found faults.

  • Check to see that all electrics work by testing any electric windows, lights, radios and air conditioning. If there are problems with these it could be costly and difficult to sort out in the long run.
  • There have been complaints in manual Astras of clutch judder. When on a test drive check that the car accelerates smoothly with no clutch judder, which could be a sign of misalignment or excessive wear.
  • Have a look at the service history, especially to see that the cam belt has been changed - this should be done every 50,000 miles.
  • Some diesel Astras have had water pumps fail, which is more likely if it is not replaced regularly. This should be replaced every 40,000 miles, so its worth making sure there is evidence of this.
  • The rear electric windows have been known to suffer from loose connections. Check these work, but if not it should be a straightforward job to rectify.
  • Test the suspension by pushing down on the bumper when the car is stationary. Any noises - most likely banging noises - could indicate that the bushes are worn.

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