Vauxhall Astra review

2022 Vauxhall Astra hatchback

We road test the all-new Vauxhall Astra hatchback – is it as good to drive as it looks?

When the Vauxhall brand was bought in 2017 it was the best thing that could have happened to the UK’s oldest surviving car brand.

Cynics thought it would be left to wither on the vine while PSA focused on Peugeot and Citroen.

Again in 2021, many thought the worst when PSA merged with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), joining yet more brands including Fiat, Jeep and Alfa Romeo.

The reality is that new ownership has led to a renaissance for Vauxhall. Just look at the latest Corsa and Mokka – the first fruits of the merger. The supermini, which is available with petrol, diesel and pure electric powertrains, was the UK’s biggest selling new car of 2021, and is leading the way again in 2022.

2022 Vauxhall Astra hatchback

The eighth-generation Astra hatchback (it will be joined by a handsome Sports Tourer variant later this year) is a step-up from its dull, but worthy predecessor.

Initially offered as a petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid (PHEV), a 100% electric version will join the range in 2023.

If a car could jump straight to the top of the class purely based on looks, then the Astra would be a contender.

With a striking new design, it’s a car transformed. Slighter larger than the outgoing model, it has a sporty stance and Vauxhall’s ‘Vizor’ front end design works especially well.

2022 Vauxhall Astra hatchback

It’s also available in some eye-catching colours, including Electric Yellow and Cobalt Blue.

Competitively priced from £24,315, there are three trim levels – Design, GS Line and Ultimate.

You get 16-inch alloys wheels as standard with Design, plus a 10-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, LED headlights, cruise control and keyless start.

GS Line brings 17-inch black alloys, along with adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate and heated front seats and steering wheel.

2022 Vauxhall Astra hatchback

Top of the range is Ultimate adds 18-inch grey alloys, Vauxhall’s new ‘IntelliLux’ LED headlights, a head-up display and Alcantara seat trim.

Under the bonnet there’s a choice of two 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol turbo engines (109bhp or 128bhp), the more powerful of which gives you the option of an automatic gearbox. There’s also a 1.5-litre diesel, which produces 128bhp.

The higher output petrol is the fastest with a 0-60mph of 9.7 seconds, while the diesel is the most frugal (up to 62.9mpg) and has the lowest CO2 emissions (as low as 118g/km).

However, if you can afford the range-topping Hybrid-e, it mates a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine (148bhp) to an electric motor, giving a combined output 178bhp.

2022 Vauxhall Astra hatchback

A 12.4kWh lithium ion battery supplies an EV range of up to 43 miles and can be charged in less than two hours courtesy of a 7.4kW home charger.

In theory, economy could be as high as 256mpg, while CO2 emissions are a low as 24g/km.

As ever with any PHEV, it works most efficiently if the battery is kept charged up.

The big takeaway is that if your daily commute is around the 25-mile mark (in line with the UK average) and you can charge overnight at home, you’ll save a stack of money on fuel and your visits to the petrol station could be few and far between.

2022 Vauxhall Astra hatchback

It’s no slouch either, with a 0-60mph time of 7.7 seconds and a top speed of 140mph (up to 88mph in electric mode).

We tested the PHEV, plus the 1.2 (128bhp) petrol, which in mid-spec GS Line is expected to be the biggest seller.

The first thing you notice inside is that it’s spacious and uncluttered up front with the slick new infotainment set-up. Thankfully there are still some short-cut buttons below the centre touchscreen, so accessing the heating, for instance, doesn’t involve flicking through a menu.

The interior is well enough put together, but the Astra won’t be troubling premium opposition when it comes to the quality of materials used (there are very few soft-touch surfaces for one), then there’s the amount of road and wind noise that makes its way into the cabin at higher speeds. That said, the seats are surprisingly comfortable and it’s easy to find a good driving position.

2022 Vauxhall Astra hatchback

It’s a little tight for larger passengers in the rear, while the boot (422 litres) is around 40 litres more than the Volkswagen Golf, Seat Leon and Ford Focus. However, the PHEV version has a smaller 352-litre boot because of the battery storage under the floor of the car.

With the split-folding rear seats down, the hatchback offers 1,339 litres of total space, compared to the hybrid’s 1,268 litres.

On the road, the 1.2-litre engine is thrummy if pushed, but punchy enough for everyday use and settles down nicely at motorway speeds. However, more spirited drivers will have to work it fairly hard to make rapid progress.

That said, it rides well, there’s good grip and the steering is light and responsive. Driven sensibly it will reward you with fuel economy as high as 50mpg.

We’d advise sampling both the six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic gearbox. The manual has a long throw and isn’t the slickest.

2022 Vauxhall Astra hatchback

If you can afford it, the PHEV offers more performance, refinement and potentially hugely reduced running costs.

It’s a little heavier than its petrol-only sibling, thanks to the battery pack and electric motor, so the set-up is a little stiffer, but it feels settled and progress is generally smoother.

The switch from petrol to hybrid and vice versa is almost seamless, while body control in more challenging corners is well controlled in both versions.

The Vauxhall Astra is one of the UK’s most popular cars with a success story stretching back to 1979. The Mk8 is a big improvement and the best yet, even if it’s not top of the class for driver engagement.

Its formidable list of rivals includes the Ford Focus, Mazda3, Kia Ceed, Seat Leon, Toyota Corolla, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf. Oh, and not forgetting it’s French cousin, the new Peugeot 308 (both cars share the same platform).

Verdict: The all-new Vauxhall Astra is one of the most stylish and capable hatchbacks on the market. Competitively priced, comfortable and cheap to run, it handles well and is another winner for the reinvigorated Vauxhall brand.

Vauxhall UK

Report: Faster Audi RS6 Avant Versions On the Way

Report: Faster Audi RS6 Avant Versions On the Way

American Audi fans got lucky with the RS6 Avant. And it sounds like Ingolstadt has even more goodness in store.

When it was announced that the Audi RS6 Avant was actually coming to America, Four Rings fans rejoiced. Now sure, there’s no lack of high-horsepower hardware available on our shores. But when it comes to fast wagons? Domestic enthusiasts have too often gotten the shaft. So this was far from a sure thing. Fortunately, Ingolstadt delivered — and a new report from our friends at Australia’s Wheels says even hotter versions are on the way.

Better still, the info isn’t credited to an unnamed source, like so much other reportage on automotive news. Rather, vague as it may be, this tidbit comes straight from A6 and R8 spokesperson Eva Stania. Because when Wheels asked about the possibility of a weapons-grade RS6 Avant, Stania replied:  “You drove the RS6 C7 as a Performance. We recently launched the R8 RWD as a Performance, so you can be pretty sure that we will follow up the Performance strategy.”

Of course, any specifics about timing and specs are still murky. But other — yup, unnamed — sources seemed to indicate there will be more than one hot rod variant of the lust-worthy longroof for well-heeled enthusiasts to choose from. We could see the first version by the end of the year, and the range-topping model will arrive closer to 2025, toward the end of this generation’s production run. All of which tracks, given Audi’s history with models like the R8 Performance.

As for how much power each model will make? I think it’s reasonable to expect that both models will make more than Mercedes’ 603-horsepower E63 AMG wagon, and less that the 690-horsepower Panamera Sport Turismo from corporate cousin Porsche. So if I was forced to make a guess? I’d say 620 for Performance model A, and 675 from Performance model B. Sound reasonable? Hit me up and let me know!

Photos: Audi

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Audi Issues A3 Seatbelt Recall for 2022 Sedans

Audi S3

Audi just announced an A3 seatbelt recall for the 2022 A3 and S3 sedan.

Audi is recalling the 2022 A3 and S3 due to seatbelt tensioner issues. According to the NHTSA website, the recall affects approximately 3,000 cars where the front seat belt tensioners may not adequately restrain occupants during a crash.

“The seat belt tensioner in the affected vehicles serve the purpose of holding the passenger in his position in the seat,” Audi said in its defect report to NHTSA. “In the event of a crash, the retention force of the seat belt may not reach the intended level. As a result, the position of the body can be further to the front of the seat, which leads to a negative influence on the whole restraint system, increasing the risk of injury.”

This is not the first time Audi has issued a recall for seatbelt tensioner issues. Last August, Volkswagen issued a recall for approximately 45,500 cars and SUVs, primarily from Audi but also including the ID.4. In that instance, the rear seat belt automatic locking retractors could potentially deactivate early. This issue could prevent a child restraint system from securing properly.

Audi S3

Audi discovered the problem while crash testing cars for the South Korean market and is unaware of any related injuries. The NHTSA filing indicates the problem affects 2,221 A3 sedans and 363 S3 sedans for the 2022 model year. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed before September 16, 2022. These notices will provide information on the issue and how to schedule an appointment for the repair. Dealers will replace the driver and front passenger seat belt assemblies free of charge.

If you own a 2022 Audi A3 or S3 and think you might be affected, contact Audi’s customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Audi’s number for this recall is 68i2.

Photos: Audi USA

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Mark Webb is fascinated by anything automotive and particularly loves cars that are unusual or have a good story. He’s owned a variety of cars from 60’s muscle, Japanese imports, and oddities like a VW Thing and Porsche 924. After 20 years in the automotive and tech industries, he’s a walking encyclopedia of car info and is always on the lookout for his next project or a good road trip.

Audi RS5 Destroys Lexus IS500 In Drag and Roll Race

Audi RS5Audi RS5 Coupe is a quick car. Audi claims it can hit 60 mph from a dig in 3.7 seconds. It is also a beautiful car. Especially when it is covered in Sonoma Green Metallic paint. Which is almost the same color as money. And money is exactly what you will win if you drag race your RS5 against a Lexus IS500. The IS500 is no slouch. In fact, on paper it has even more power than the Audi. But the Audi makes more torque. They both weigh about the same and they both use an 8-speed automatic transmission. But the Audi is all-wheel-drive, and the Lexus sends all the power to the rear wheels. Does that fully explain the results we see here or is the Audi more powerful than we think?

Sam CarLegion recently posted a video to his YouTube channel. And in this video has races an Audi RS5 Coupe against a Lexus IS500 from both a dig and a roll. The cars may be evenly matched on paper but in the real world the Audi decimates the Lexus in every race. Is it all down to the AWD system in the Audi or is there something else going on here?

Audi RS5

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Cost-of-living crisis: Fuel saving tips for motorists

Filling up with fuel - Bridgestone

Seven ways you can ease the pain at the pumps…

Whether you’re heading off on your summer holidays or coping with high fuel prices day-to-day basis, there’s no harm in trying to squeeze the maximum miles out of your tank of petrol or diesel.

We’ve teamed up with tyre giant Bridgestone to provide a series of fuel-saving tips to ease the pain at the pumps.

Bridgestone’s Technical Manager Gary Powell

By tweaking driving styles, Bridgestone’s Technical Manager Gary Powell believes that a typical tank can last longer, ensuring trips to the forecourt aren’t needed quite so urgently.

1. Make sure you purchase the best tyres for your vehicle

It’s important to invest in the right tyres for your vehicle while you may be tempted to go “budget” in the long-term this will cost you more money and be more expensive on your pocket in terms of fuel. Opting for a premium product can increase fuel-range. Bridgestone is one of the world’s largest tyre manufacturers and boast some of the best performing products in terms of low-rolling resistance.

2. Check your tyre pressures

It’s really important to make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure as indicated in your owner’s manual. Underinflated and overinflated tyres both adversely affect fuel economy. Not only that you are compromising your safety – when your tyres are under inflated it compromises your ability to brake and manoeuvre safely. Vehicles with under-inflated tyres have increased rolling resistance that require more fuel to maintain the vehicles speed. This is not good for your pocket and equates to higher Co2 emissions too, which is not good for the environment either.

3. Check your tyres

If your tyres are not inflated correctly or are wearing it is both unsafe but will also have an effect on your fuel consumption. Try the 20p tread test. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, so to check if your tyres are legal, insert a 20p coin into the tread to check. If any part of the coin’s border is visible, it’s time to change the tyres.

4. Easy on the accelerator

Excessive speed is the biggest fuel-guzzling factor so having a light right foot and ensuring all acceleration is gentle is very important to fuel-efficient driving. The best way to achieve high MPG (Miles per gallon) is to drive in the highest possible gear while keeping within the speed limit. The best advice in urban areas is to change up through the gears as quickly as you can with the lowest revs possible. The faster an engine spins, the more fuel it uses.

5. Anticipate

Anticipation is key. Try to anticipate what’s going to happen in front of you by looking well ahead. By doing this, you’ll see the traffic lights on red meaning you can ease back on the accelerator or slow down as you approach and potentially keep moving as opposed to coming to a stop. Keeping the car moving at the right speed is essential to fuel economy. Obviously, this depends on traffic conditions and what’s happening on the road ahead, but slowing down and having to accelerate again uses more fuel.

6. Cruise control

Cruise control only aids fuel economy when driving on a constant flat surface, hence why it is usually best reserved for motorway driving. One of the keys to saving fuel is driving at a constant speed, cruise control can do this effectively on flat surfaces, making your driving as fuel efficient as possible by negating unnecessary acceleration. However, if you were to use your cruise control regularly, not on flat roads, you would encounter problems that would increase your fuel consumption.

7. Lighten the load

Don’t pack things into your car that you won’t be needing once you arrive at your destination. Also, don’t leave your roof bars and roof box on because they create wind resistance and cause your car to use more fuel through the ‘drag’ effect. This is increased the faster you drive. Driving with an open window also has a similar effect. And while this isn’t going to make the biggest difference to your MPG figures, it stands to reason that the heavier a vehicle is, the more fuel it will use.