The Vauxhall Astra is known for its great driving performance, offering its owners secure handling, a smooth ride and excellent refinement. It features an attractive exterior and a comfortable amount of space. Warranty Direct ranked the Astra 20th in its reliability index of 41 small family cars. The criteria used to determine the rankings includes the number of times a car fails, how much it costs to repair and how long it spends off the road due to the repairs. The Vauxhall brand itself also ranked 20th, but in a list of 39 manufacturers.
First generation Vauxhall Astra (1980 to 1984)
Vauxhall''s subsidiary Opel launched the Astra as the Kadett D in 1979, but the car was officially launched with the Astra name tag in 1980, replacing the UK''s Vauxhall Viva. The Mk1 was released as a three- or five-door hatchback. Buyers also had the choice of an estate variation as well as a two- and four-door saloon, which featured the same silhouette as the hatchback but with a separate boot. The saloons were withdrawn in the UK soon after. Petrol and diesel engine sizes ranged between 1.0 litres and 1.8 litres.
Second and third generation Vauxhall Astra (1984 to 1998)
Released in October 1984, the Mk2 Astra used the same range of engines and running gear as the Mk1. However it featured a completely restyled body with better aerodynamics. Voted the European Car of the Year in 1985, the second generation Astra was very well received across the globe. It was available in estate, hatchback, saloon and cabriolet versions. Production ceased in 1984, which was the same year Vauxhall launched the the third generation Astra. This was the first generation to be called Astra by Opel, succeeding the Kadett E. It also became the first generation to be sold by Holden.
The Mk3 was offered as a three- or five-door hatchback, a saloon and an estate. Bertone also designed and built a cabriolet variant. It saw the introduction of twin side impact bars, a toughened safety cage, safety designed steering wheel and ''body lock'' front seat belt.
Fourth and fifth generation Vauxhall Astra (1998 to 2010)
Vauxhall did well in addressing many of the criticisms of the Mk3, improving the ride and handling a great deal. They also emphasised the importance of safety, giving buyers greater body rigidity which resulted in the Astra receiving a strong four star EuroNCAP crash test rating. Vauxhall released the car in 1998, offering buyers a range of 16v Ecotec engines, as well as some 8v units. This generation ceased production in 1998.
The Mk5 was launched in early 2005 as a five-door hatchback. Later that year Vauxhall introduced a five-door estate and sporty three-door hatchback. The "Sport Hatch" had the option of a panoramic windscreen, which was unique for a production car at this time, extending the windscreen into the roof area. A number of petrol and diesel engines were made available. The fifth generation was the first Astra to receive a five star crash test rating.
Sixth generation Vauxhall Astra (2009 to present)
The Mk6 Astra was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009. The estate version, known as the ''Sports Tourer'', debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 2010, going on sale shortly after. Top Gear said that the Astra Mk6 in the Tech Line trim is the fourth most reasonably priced car. Talks of a seventh generation are ongoing.
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