2019 Vauxhall Astra: new vs used

Tempted by the new 2019 Astra? At £18,885 upwards it's far more pricey than the outgoing model, with nearly-new 2019 models from £13,700

John Evans
Sep 6, 2019

The Astra and hatchbacks like it – namely the big-selling Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf – are arguably what keep the UK on the move. They’re family hatchbacks but, more importantly, they’re business tools beloved by company fleets and designed to satisfy a wide range of needs. That’s why they’re such good all-rounders: roomy, comfortable, efficient and well-equipped.

The Vauxhall Astra is a veteran of the market. The current model was launched in 2015 and facelifted in summer 2019. It squares up to an all-new Ford Focus while next year, the all-new VW Golf arrives. With these two in play, the facelifted Astra has to be good.

Fortunately it is, but so too is the pre-facelift version and better still when you consider how much cheaper it is as a nearly-new or used car. For example, the facelifted model starts at £18,885 (in 1.2-litre 110hp SE form) whereas you could be in a nearly-new pre-facelift example of the excellent Astra 1.0-litre 105hp SRi Nav with just 10 miles on the clock for a mere £13,700, saving just over £5,000.

New Vauxhall Astra

The pre-facelift Astra is still a good-looking car with a roomy interior and a decent boot which is why with the facelifted model, rather than remodelling it, Vauxhall has instead concentrated on improving the things that matter - such as its suspension, technology and engines. That said, car spotters will notice the front bumper has been redesigned to help reduce the new Astra’s wind resistance and improve fuel economy.

Engines are available in petrol and diesel form and have three cylinders instead of the usual four. More car makers are adopting this layout to meet the latest emissions rules, as smaller engines typically mean lower emissions. In this respect, the new Astra is very competitive. All the engines comply with the latest Euro 6d and RDE2 emissions standards. In meeting RDE2, diesel-powered Astras are cheaper to tax in their first year than other diesels. Business users also avoid paying the 4% benefit-in-kind (BIK) surcharge imposed on diesel cars.

There are 1.5-litre diesel engines with two power outputs: 105hp and 122hp, the latter available with an optional nine-speed automatic gearbox. Crucially, the 105hp engine attracts much less BIK tax than its predecessor.

The petrol engines are all 1.2-litre units and come with 110hp, 130hp and 145hp. Again, the most powerful version is available with an automatic gearbox, although this time it’s a CVT transmission - which does without physical gears and instead holds the engine at a steady speed and varies the length of the one gear when accelerating.

The Astra’s steering and suspension have been tweaked to provide a smoother ride with more agile handling, and sharper steering. The old Astra was good in these respects but the new model is, mostly, better still. Only the slightly uncommunicative steering lets it down. Its accurate, so you can steer an accurate path through corners, but lacks a little feel. The petrol-engined versions are the best to drive while because of their heavier engines, the diesels feel a bit nose-heavy and less agile. They are very economical, though.

The old Astra was hardly light on the equipment front and the new one merely builds on this attribute. There are seven trims ranging from SE to Ultimate Nav. Like its equivalent in the old model, called Design, SE has 16-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen media system, air-conditioning, rear privacy glass and cruise control.

At the other extreme, Ultimate Nav trim showcases new technology including a Bose premium sound system, a wireless smartphone charger and LED matrix headlights.

The biggest change to the interior is a redesigned centre console while, where offered, the driver assistance cameras have been improved and there’s an optional heated windscreen (Ford Focus drivers have enjoyed one of these for years).

Thanks to its new, cleaner engines and improved ride comfort, plus generally impressive equipment levels across no less than seven trims, the new Astra is better prepared to meet the challenges provided by its rivals. It’s even more attractive to business users, too, as well as to private diesel buyers looking to reduce their first-year road tax burden.

Despite the improvements, we expect discounts on the new Astra to remain generous. However, these same discounts fuel depreciation, so we expect a nearly-new model with low mileage to be much better value for money.

2015-2019 Vauxhall Astra

The Astra arrived in 2015 tuned for UK roads. As a result it’s comfortable, refined and good to drive, although a Ford Focus is a little more fun to drive.

The Astra looked good back then and it still does. It’s roomy, too, and well built, while its engines are generally smooth, willing and efficient.

On that point, among the petrol engines, the 105hp 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder and 150hp 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engines stand out for their performance and, in the 1.0-litre’s case, fuel economy.

The Astra is squarely targeted at company car drivers so there are a couple of excellent 1.6 CDTi diesel engines producing 110hp and 136hp. Vauxhall calls them Whisper diesels, a reference to their quiet running. They’re certainly smooth and discreet. For maximum economy choose the 110hp version.

By the time the model was facelifted there were, like the new Astra, seven trim levels including a special edition Griffin spec. If you can find one, it’s an excellent buy with its standard-fit sat-nav, climate control and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The range opens with Design. This includes also has alloy wheels, a touchscreen media system, cruise control and electric windows all-round but less sophisticated air-conditioning. It’s good value but for more comfort and a better ambience, we'd recommend SRi VX-Line Nav with its larger wheels, more chrome and sat-nav.

Of course, older examples, especially diesel versions, are better value still. Look out for the special edition 1.6 CDTi Excite, a kind of halfway house between entry-level Design and mid-spec SRi.

Outgoing Vauxhall Astra vs New Vauxhall Astra

Parked side by side you may struggle to tell new and old Astra apart but a turn around the block and a glance at their respective running costs should be sufficient to identify one from the other.

We like the new Astra’s latest emissions-compliant engines and the tax advantages they provide, the improvements to the model’s ride comfort, its familiar trim names and their strong equipment levels, and generally competitive pricing. The new Astra answers a lot of questions and poses few new ones.

However, it’s not such a leap forward that the pre-facelift Astra is plunged into the shadows. That car is still good looking, comfortable, well equipped and, especially in 1.6 CDTi diesel or even 1.0T petrol form, economical.

It’s also, as a used car, considerably cheaper. A low-mileage, nearly new one, especially, is terrific value for money.


Which to buy – all-new or used Vauxhall Astra?

Only a facelifted Astra can give you that new car smell and the reassurance of a three-year manufacturer warranty, and only it can offer you reductions in road and benefit-in-kind tax while spoiling you with improved ride and handling. And if you want LED matrix headlights that can automatically dip to prevent blinding oncoming drivers, only a new Astra Ultimate Nav can oblige.

Prices begin at £18,885 (for the Astra 1.2 110hp SE) which, surprisingly, is less than the old Astra which launched with a starting price of £18,905 (for the Astra 1.0T 105hp). That car emitted 107g/km CO2 as well, where its replacement emits just 99g/km CO2.

It looks like the new Astra has things sewn up except that, for all its advantages, it has no answer for the old model’s sheer value for money as used car. Whether nearly-new with few miles or older with many, the outgoing model is considerably cheaper.

What’s more, that car is no less well built, roomy, practical, well equipped or attractive. It may not be as tax efficient but that’s only of interest to company car drivers. As a used car owned by a private motorist, it’s cheap enough to tax.

We’d buy one over the new Astra – a 2019/19 1.0T 105 SRi Nav, for example – and then in two years’ time swap it for a nearly new and well-priced, facelifted model, if we valued having the latest car.

Current Vauxhall Astra deals

2019 Vauxhall Astra deals from under £14,000

Vauxhall Astra 1.4 150hp Elite Nav 5dr

2019/68, 13,000 miles, £14,999

New, this luxury version of the Astra cost £23,500, making the one-year-old example featured here excellent value for money. It’s powered by a 150hp 1.4-litre engine so has little difficulty keeping up with the traffic. In fact, it's decently speedy.

Features include 17-inch alloy wheels, an electronic parking brake, leather seats, sat-nav, climate control, and automatic lights and wipers, in addition to the Astra’s standard-fit digital radio.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 136hp CDTi Griffin

2019/19, 7,000 miles, £14,490

Another top-value Astra, only this time it’s the excellent mid-power diesel and it’s on a 19-reg plate, so looks fresher still. The Griffin was a special edition launched to help clear runout stocks ahead of the new Astra’s arrival. New, it cost £19,950 so this deal on a nearly-new, low-mileage example represents a saving of £5,000.

As a special edition it’s packed with tempting features including sat-nav, climate control and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Vauxhall Astra 1.0T 105hp SRi Nav 5dr

2019/19, 10 miles, £13,700

The three-cylinder petrol engine that powers this Astra is one of the best small engines of its type: smooth, eager to rev and reasonably economical.

SRi is one of the most popular trims and brings a raft of essential as well as desirable kit including sports front seats, climate control, a larger eight-inch touchscreen, 17-inch alloys and automatic headlights. Nav means this version has sat-nav with European mapping.

2017 Vauxhall Astra deals from under £9,000

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 110hp Design 5dr

2017/67, 32,000 miles, £9,900

Entry-level Design trim doesn't leave you short chanegd thanks to features including a seven-inch colour touchscreen, air-conditioning, alloy wheels – in fact most of the things drivers expect as a minimum these days.

The 1.6-litre diesel engine is a member of Vauxhall’s so-called Whisper family of diesels. It’s not silent but it is quieter and more refined than rivals, and this 110hp version is the most economical engine in the old Astra line-up.

Vauxhall Astra 1.4T 150hp SRi auto

2017 /17, 37,000 miles, £9,200

The 150hp 1.4-litre engine is a cracker: smooth, quick and efficient. It’s easily a match for the VW Golf’s 1.5-litre TSI Evo engine. Vauxhall’s automatic gearbox is not quite such a good match, but together they’re a relaxing and reasonably effortless combination.

SRi is one step above Design to which it adds sports-style front seats, automatic headlights and a front centre armrest.

Vauxhall Astra 1.0T 105hp SRi 5dr

2017/66, 38,000 miles, £8,600

Here’s an excellent example of Astra value. The 105hp 1.0T is a three-cylinder engine that’s smooth, perky and full of character.

Being SRi trim it has lots of convenience features. There’s no sat-nav, as there would be were it an SRi Nav, but that’s not a problem because all Astras have a colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allowing you to connect your phone and use its sat-nav features safely.

2015 Vauxhall Astra deals from under £6,000

Vauxhall Astra 1.6i 115hp Excite 5dr

2015/65, 28,000 miles, £6,995

Like the Griffin mentioned earlier, the Excite was a special edition intended to stimulate sales. It doesn't go as far as Griffin but there’s a still an impressive roster of kit here including essentials such as air-conditioning, alloy wheels and a height-adjustable driver’s seat.

The 1.6-litre petrol engine is not as economical as more up-to-date engines such as the 1.0T but that only helps to keep the car’s price down.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 110hp CDTi Design 5dr

2015/15, 40,000 miles, £6,350

Here’s a great-value example of the smooth, refined and economical 1.6-litre Whisper diesel. Design trim may only be entry-level but you’ll find all the important things here including air-conditioning, alloy wheels and a seven-inch touchscreen with good phone connectivity plus a digital radio. There are even rear as well as front electric windows.

Vauxhall Astra 1.4 100hp SRi 5dr

2015/15, 62,000 miles, £5,250

The Astra’s 100hp 1.4 petrol engine isn’t the last word in performance and economy but it does help bring this example’s price within shouting distance of £5,000. That’s not a lot for a modern family hatchback in a popular specification and with what amounts to average mileage.

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