Vauxhall Astra (2009-2015)

The Vauxhall Astra Mk6 was a massive improvement over its predecessor, but it was still only average in most departments – at best. As a used buy the Astra is much easier to recommend though, largely because of the value factor – you get plenty for your money. And with lots of examples to choose from, you won’t struggle to find the best engine, trim and bodystyle for your needs. The three-door GTC looks especially sharp while the capacious estate is ideal for anyone on a budget who needs to cart stuff about.

Key dates

12/09: The Astra Mk6 five-door hatch arrives, with 1.4 or 1.6 petrol engines (normally aspirated or turbocharged), and 1.7 CDTi or 2.0 CDTi diesels.

12/10: There’s now a five-door estate.

7/11: A sharply styled three-door hatch arrives, the GTC.

6/11: The Astra Ecoflex has CO2 emissions of just 99g/km

7/12: The 280bhp Astra VXR goes on sale.

07/12: A facelift brings tweaked styling, a longer options list and the introduction of a twin-turbo 2.0 CDTi engine.

2/14: A 97g/km 1.6 CDTi engine debuts.


  • The M32 six-speed manual gearbox can fail; Vauxhall has been known to contribute, even outside the warranty.
  • Look in the boot for signs of water leaks. Make sure you check the spare wheel well while you’re at it.
  • The fit and finish of some of the interior trim can be an issue, while squeaks, creaks and rattles aren’t uncommon.
  • The cruise control can disengage and the brake lights can flicker, because of a known fault with the parking brake sensor.
  • The ball joints in the front suspension wear, leading to knocking as the car is driven over bumps; replacements are cheap.
  • There’s an electronic parking brake on cars with SE trim and above. It can disengage for no apparent reason.

We like

  • Smart design
  • Strong value
  • Wide choice
  • High-quality cabin
  • Generally well equipped
  • Reasonably reliable

We don’t like

  • Disappointing dynamics
  • Low-rent image


Richard Dredge


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