Vauxhall Astra (2004-2009)

While Vauxhall's small family car was always outclassed, it has plenty to offer for those who care more about value than image or pin-sharp dynamics. So while there may not be much of a feel-good factor on offer from the Astra, a massive range of engines, trim levels and bodystyles ensure there's plenty of choice, prices are low, and so are running costs.

Key Dates

5/04: The fifth-generation Astra arrives, in five-door hatch form only.

7/04: A five-door estate joins the range.

1/05: The three-door Astra debuts, known as the Sport Hatch. At the same time, an LPG Astra is introduced.

4/05: The 240bhp VXR debuts, plus the 1.3CDTi.

1/06: A coupé-cabriolet appears, dubbed the Twin Top.

11/06: A facelift brings a fresh grille and headlights plus revised interior trim, along with a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine.

8/08: The Astra EcoFlex arrives, with a 1.7CDTi engine.

Vauxhall Astra (2004-2009) Checklist

  • Clutch judder on 1.6 and 1.8 petrol cars suggests a failed rear crankshaft oil seal.
  • Hand brakes can fail, which is why the car should be left in gear.
  • The hatchback's loading sill is high and narrow, making access awkward.
  • Worn front suspension bushes lead to wayward handling.
  • Early cars had radios that would switch themselves on when the car was left, leading to a dead battery.
  • The top of the front suspension turrets can corrode.
  • Electrical problems are common; especially lights, wipers, fuel gauges and central locking.

We Like

  • Value
  • Choice
  • Refinement
  • Standard kit
  • Comfortable ride

We Don't Like

  • Image
  • Relatively cramped cabin