Vauxhall Astra Electric review

Vauxhall Astra Electric review

We get behind the wheel of the much-anticipated 100% electric version of the Vauxhall Astra…

The family favourite that is the Vauxhall Astra was originally launched way back in 1980.

Available as a hatchback or rakish Sports Tourer (estate), the eighth-generation model was introduced in 2022.

Vauxhall Astra Electric review

Initially offered as a petrol or plug-in hybrid (PHEV), it’s arguably the new pure electric version that’s the most intriguing.

One thing is for sure, it has to be good because it’s up against some stiff EV opposition from the likes of the MG4, Volkswagen ID.4, Renault Megane E-Tech Electric, Cupra Born and quirky Ora Funky Cat (GWM Ora 03).

Low-slung and sleek, it features Vauxhall’s modern new ‘Vizor’ front end which houses LED headlights, sensors for the driver aids and safety technologies, plus the bold new Griffin logo.

Vauxhall Astra Electric review

Based on the same platform as its Stellantis cousin (the Peugeot e-308), it’s the best-looking Astra ever.

I particularly approve of the long bonnet complete with crease running down the middle – a nod to classic Vauxhalls.

The Astra Electric has a 54kWh battery paired with a 154bhp electric motor powering the front wheels. It can sprint from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and has a claimed range of 258 miles (256 miles for the Sports Tourer).

Vauxhall Astra Electric review

Frankly, it feels quicker off the mark than the official figures suggest. Either way, it’s more than enough performance for everyday driving.

There are three drive modes (Eco, Normal and Sport). Eco dulls the throttle response which helps to maximise range, Sport ramps up the power, while Normal offers the best of both worlds.

Vauxhall says the Astra Electric’s heat pump means the electric motor can operate at maximum efficiency in hot or cold weather, and I got pretty close to the claimed 4.2 miles per kWh during my spell behind the wheel.

Vauxhall Astra Electric review

I’d have to spend a week or so with the car to work out how efficient it really is, but I’d estimate the Astra Electric has a real-world range of around 200 miles – more in city driving.

If you have a home wallbox, the battery will charge to 100% overnight. Hook it up to a 100kW public rapid charger and it will boost the battery from 20-80% in just 26 minutes.

Sadly there are no paddles on the steering wheel to adjust brake regeneration, but you can flick the gear selector to B-mode for more aggressive brake regen.

Vauxhall Astra Electric review

Priced from £37,445, there are three trim levels – Design, GS and Ultimate.

The cabin of the Astra Electric has a more conventional look than many of its EV-only competitors, but it’s attractive, if a little dark.

It’s also well put together, but there are very few soft-touch surfaces and the materials used are by no means plush.

Vauxhall Astra Electric review

That said, it’s comfortable, uncluttered and space is OK, while the slick new infotainment set-up, with its 10-inch driver’s digital instrument cluster and a 10-inch central display, is intuitive and works well.

It’s fairly minimalist, but thankfully there are some short-cut buttons below the centre touchscreen, so accessing the heating, for instance, doesn’t involve tapping the touchscreen.

Additionally, there’s ‘Hey Vauxhall’ voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, plus an impressive list of safety and driver assistance features.

Vauxhall Astra Electric review

If I had one quibble, it would be that I’d prefer a lower seating position – a common problem in EVs.

It’s also tighter for space in the back for adult-sized passengers, while boot capacity is an average 352 litres in the hatch (516 litres for the Sports Tourer), expanding to 1,268 litres (1,553 litres) with the rear seats folded.

The Astra Electric is easy to drive and handles well, offering a composed, if slightly firm ride.

Vauxhall Astra Electric review

There’s a little bit of road and wind noise on motorways, but for the most part it’s refined and comfortable on all but the poorest surfaces. Naturally, the Sports Tourer feels more substantial than the hatch, but it’s still agile and nicely balanced – despite weighing nearly 50kg more.

There’s some fun to be had in the Astra Electric, but it would be an exaggeration to call it dynamic and engaging. When pushed in Sport mode on more challenging roads, body roll is kept in check and there’s good grip, partly down to the balanced weight distribution and the positioning of the battery in the vehicle’s underbody.

Additionally, the steering is light, making it a doddle in town, but just like the Corsa Electric, the brakes aren’t very progressive.

Ultimately, the Astra Electric is a sensible family-sized introduction to electric motoring.

Verdict: The Vauxhall Astra Electric is stylish, straightforward, practical and easy to drive. However, some rivals offer a longer range for less money.

Vauxhall UK

New drivers plan to spend £4,000 on their first car

Gareth Herincx

17 hours ago
Auto News

Young-Driver-driving-lesson

Newly qualified drivers plan on spending £4,124 on their first car, according to new research.

Pre-17 driving experts at Young Driver surveyed 500 of its customers, who will soon turn 17, to find out what their plans are when they pass their driving test.

Almost two thirds of the respondents (64%) said the new driver would have their own car when they passed their test – with 8% already having one lined up. One in three (29%) said the new driver would solely have use of their parent’s car to begin with. Only 3% would have no access to a vehicle.

When asked how much they were likely to spend on a new car, only 4% said they planned on forking out more than £10,000. Seven per cent were looking at cars under £1,000, with the average amount, from all the responses, being £4,124.

In 60% of cases the car would be bought by a parent or other family member, and for 40% it would be the driver themselves.

A car dealership was the most popular way of securing a new car, with 36% saying that is how they would purchase a vehicle, closely followed by 35% looking online. One in 10 (11%) plan to get a car from friends or family.

Of the new drivers who will be getting a car, the Young Driver research revealed that:

  • 98% will get a used vehicle
  • 84% will get a petrol
  • 12% will get a diesel
  • 4% will get an electric
  • 92% will get a manual

Young Driver launched in 2009 and specialises in teaching 10-17 year olds how to drive, with the aim of creating a safer next generation of drivers.

Check Also



Five most common driving offences revealed

Speeding remains the most common offence on British roads with almost 200,000 people caught between …

Smart #1 review

Smart #1 review

We get up to speed with the first of a new generation of Smart cars – the awkwardly-titled #1…

The Smart #1 compact SUV is the first fruit of a new joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Chinese giant Geely, which also owns Volvo, Polestar and Lotus.

Sharing a platform with the upcoming Volvo EX30, the #1 (pronounced ‘hashtag one’) is a class act and about the same size as a MINI Countryman, Volkswagen ID.3 or Peugeot 2008.

Smart #1 review

Clearly a departure from the iconic city car, the Fortwo, the #1 is likely to transform Smart into a serious player in the EV sector.

Of course, it’s no stranger to electric vehicles. An EV version of the Fortwo was first introduced way back in 2008 and the Smart range has been 100% electric since 2019.

Already crowned Best Small SUV at 2023 What Car? EV Awards, the boldly styled #1 is distinctive, though its rear has a hint of a scaled down Mercedes-Benz EQB.

Smart #1 review

There’s also plenty of scope for personalisation with a wide range of colour and ‘floating’ roof colour combinations.

The clever design continues inside the surprisingly spacious cabin where there’s a quality, slightly quirky feel, and it’s loaded with tech.

As is the trend (unfortunately), the Smart #1 is minimalist up front with just about everything controlled via the 12.8-inch central infotainment screen (Apple CarPlay is integrated, but Android Auto is yet to come).

Smart #1 review

Additionally, all Smart #1s also get a slim 9.2-inch driver’s digital instrument cluster for info such as speed, plus a head-up display is also available on more expensive models.

Thankfully, there are useful shortcuts along the bottom of the main touchscreen, for essentials such as climate control, but you can’t even adjust the wing mirrors without having to access the touchscreen.

On the plus side, the menu structure is intuitive and the screen is responsive. What’s more, the system will save your profile, so it will remember your individual settings every time you drive the car.

Smart #1 review

Personalising settings takes a while, but once you switched off irritating things like Driver Exhaustion Alert, Steering Wheel Re-Centring and Lane Assist, you’re well on your way.

Oh, and there’s also an animated fox lurking on the infotainment screen. It’s a fun face for the voice assistant, and you’ll either find it cute or annoying.

Awarded a maximum five stars in crash testing by Euro NCAP, the #1 is packed with the latest safety and driver assistance systems.

Smart says the #1 has the same interior space as a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and I don’t doubt it for a moment. There’s plenty of head and leg room throughout and the 60:40 split rear seats recline and slide backwards and forwards.

Smart #1 review

Boot capacity is not best-in-class, ranging between 273 – 411 litres (up to 986 litres with the rear seats flipped), though there is a tiny 15-litre ‘frunk’ under the bonnet.

Competitively priced from £35,950, there are two Smart #1 specs (Pro and Premium) and both get a 66kWh battery pack and a 268bhp motor that drives the rear wheels with 253lb-ft of torque.

Pro models get a reasonable 260-mile range, while Premium is capable of up to 273 miles thanks to the addition of a heat pump and other tech tweaks.

Smart #1 review

Both accelerate from 0-62mph in just 6.7 seconds, while 150kW charging speed means a 10-80% top-up takes as little as 30 minutes.

The Smart #1 is rapid enough as it is, but if you want serious performance, then opt for the range-topping Brabus #1.

Starting at £43,450, this hot all-wheel drive version gets an extra electric motor, develops a huge 422bhp and is capable of 0-62mph in a savagely fast 3.9 seconds. The downside is that the range in the heavier Brabus #1 drops to 248 miles.

Smart #1 review

We tested the Smart #1 Premium and it’s swift, smooth and refined with some of the best road manners in its class. The ride is on the firm side, but it still manages to iron out all but the poorest of surfaces, while wind and road noise are well contained.

Staying surprisingly flat in faster corners, it hides its 1,800kg weight well. Grip levels are impressive too, though it could get a little playful if you floor it in the wet.

It feels especially agile in town, and thanks to a tight turning circle of 11 metres and good visibility, it’s easy to manoeuvre.

Smart #1 review

The Smart #1 is fun on faster, twisty roads, but at its best cruising smoothly.

You can choose between three driving modes – Eco, Comfort and Sport. As ever, Comfort is best for everyday driving. In fact, only throttle response, steering weight and the regenerative brake level are altered anyway.

Like many EVs, the brakes aren’t the most progressive, and the brake regen was a tad fierce for my liking.

Talking of gripes, the driving position is on the high side, but then that’s generally the case with SUVs – particularly electric ones with a battery pack underneath.

Smart #1 review

It’s hard to assess the Smart #1’s real-world range based on a day of driving, but it held its charge well and at least 200 miles would be a reasonable expectation – maybe closer to 240-250 miles in the city.

So, while it may not have a 300-mile range, it’s quick to charge, which means that longer journeys are still a realistic proposition. That said, I suspect the majority of #1s will spend most of their time in urban environments anyway.

Finally, the Smart #1 comes with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty, plus an Integrated Service Package which includes maintenance and MOT, and vehicle wear and tear items for three years/30,000 miles.

Verdict: The Smart #1 small SUV is one of our favourite EVs in the £35-£40,000 price bracket. Swift, spacious and safe, it has a classy, funky feel and delivers an engaging drive.

Smart UK

Play your cards right with cinchCharge

Audi RS e-tron GT charging

We test the “faff-free” app and card that makes charging an EV much easier…

The great switch to electric vehicles is not without its issues. The high upfront cost of EVs, range anxiety and finding a public charger, to name but a few.

Then there’s the multitude of different companies providing chargers, each requiring registration, meaning some EV drivers have phones packed with apps or wallets loaded with (RFID) cards.

Anything that can smooth things along helps, which is why car marketplace, cinch, is on to a winner with cinchCharge.

cinchCharge

Marketed as “faff-free EV charging”, cinchCharge is a payment card and app which gives cinch EV buyers access to more than 30,000 public chargepoint connectors across over 18 networks.

In one fell swoop, electric car drivers who’ve bought via cinch can pay for charging using the cinchCharge card or app without having to shuffle cards and flick through different apps.

We’ve been testing out cinchCharge for ourselves over the last couple of months and we’re impressed.

The cinchCharge app helps you find and filter accessible public chargers by availability, speed and distance from your location.

cinchCharge app

What’s more, the cinchCharge app is free to download, there’s no monthly subscription and no fees.

When you stop at the charger, simply tap the cinchCharge card or use the app to start charging. Then you end your charging session and payment is taken from your linked debit or credit card, so you only pay for what you use.

The cinchCharge card worked perfectly on every public charger we used, including Gridserve, Motor Fuel Group, Osprey and Ionity.

Typically, there were also a couple of occasions where we were miffed because we weren’t able to use fast chargers on the Instavolt and BP Pulse networks, because they are not cinchCharge providers, but on the whole, the coverage is impressive.

The app is fine, though perhaps not the slickest out there, but it is integrated with Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps, meaning you can easily get directions to chargers, once you have located them.

Subaru Solterra charging

What’s more, the interactive map within cinchCharge shows you whether the chargepoint is available, compatible, the speed it will charge your car, as well as highlighting the price.

Our only suggestion is that would be a great bonus if the kWh prices were discounted a little for cinch owners.

So, overall cinchCharge works and certainly alleviates one of the key “faffs” of owning an electric vehicle (ie registering with various suppliers and needing multiple cards).

It’s just a shame that all EV drivers can’t benefit from cinchCharge and you have to buy a car via cinch in order to be able to access it!

2023 Volkswagen ID.3 review

2023 Volkswagen ID.3 review

Volkswagen’s bestselling EV in the UK has had an update for 2023 – we drive the new, improved ID.3…

The VW ID.3 electric hatchback has been treated to a mild makeover and tech update, despite only being launched in 2020.

Volkswagen has listened to feedback (some of it lukewarm) and acted on it swiftly. The result is a more mature proposition.

Crucially, the changes will also keep the car competitive in the ever-increasing EV family hatch sector, where rivals include the ID.3’s VW Group cousin, the Cupra Born, plus the MG4, Nissan Leaf, Renault Megane E-Tech Electric, Vauxhall Astra Electric and Peugeot e-308.

2023 Volkswagen ID.3 review

The ID.3’s exterior styling tweaks are subtle, to say the least. The front now features a longer-looking bonnet as a result of the removal of the black strip beneath the windscreen, plus larger air intakes. The honeycomb effect on the bumper has also gone and LED headlights are now standard.

Badging along the side of the car, plus decals on the rear pillar, have vanished too, resulting in cleaner lines, while the rear light cluster is tweaked and it has a distinctive X-shaped light signature.

The cabin has had an upgrade too. There are now more soft-touch surfaces, while the seat covers and door trims use fabric made of 71% recycled materials.

Finally, the infotainment system (one of the original ID.3’s biggest issues), has improved software and can now be updated over-the-air.

2023 Volkswagen ID.3 review

The menu structure is clearer and it seemed slicker and more responsive on our test drives. Even the controversial touch-sensitive sliders at the bottom of the touchscreen and on the steering wheel worked better.

Sadly, UK buyers will have to wait until 2024 for the new, larger 12.9-inch central screen, which benefits from backlit climate and volume controls – one of the big criticisms of the original car.

There’s also a more intelligent route planner for the sat nav (which schedules charging stops more effectively on longer journeys), improved voice control and an impressive augmented reality head-up display which projects directions from the sat nav onto the road ahead.

Mechanically, the rear-wheel drive ID.3 is much the same, so there’s still a choice of two batteries – 58kWh in the Pro and 77kWh in the Pro S, delivering ranges of up to 266 miles and 347 miles respectively.

2023 Volkswagen ID.3 review

Priced from £37,115, both develop 204bhp, though the Pro accelerates a tad quicker to 62mph (7.4 vs 7.9 seconds).

Another change is that the ID.3’s charging capacity has been uprated. So, the Pros S can be charged from 5-80% within 30 minutes at speeds of up to 170kW, while the Pro takes 35 minutes with a charging capacity of up to 120kW.

The revised ID.3 is no different to the “first generation” model on the road, which means that it’s competent and assured.

It’s no Golf in the handling department and is unlikely to put a smile on your face like some EVs, but it’s easy to drive and a refined cruiser.

2023 Volkswagen ID.3 review

It’s also good in the city with decent all-round visibility, light steering and a tight turning circle of just 10.2 metres.

There’s also plenty of grip and it smoothed out poorer road surfaces well, but it’s not at its happiest when hustled on more demanding roads.

There are three drive modes (Eco, Comfort and Sport), but the reality is that the ID.3 is all about comfort and extracting maximum miles from a charge.

2023 Volkswagen ID.3 review

Frankly, there’s not much between the Pro and Pros S, other than range. If anything, the 58kWh Pro S is a tad more nimble, but ultimately, the ID.3 still lacks the driving engagement of some rivals.

So, there aren’t many gripes with the improved ID.3. The brake pedal still has a relatively long travel, which takes a bit of getting used to, and paddles or buttons behind the steering wheel to adjust the brake generation level would be a bonus.

And the ID.3 can’t be faulted when it comes to space inside the cabin where there’s plenty front and rear, while the boot has a healthy 385-litre capacity, rising to 1,267 litres with the back seats flipped down.

2023 Volkswagen ID.3 review

It’s safe too, boasting a maximum five stars from Euro NACAP. The ID.3 has all the latest safety and driver assistance systems. And new for 2023 is Travel Assist, which helps keep your vehicle in its lane, keeps its distance from the vehicle in front and maintain your pre-defined speed.

Verdict: The updated Volkswagen ID.3 is a welcome improvement. Safe, spacious, refined and a doddle to drive, it’s a sensible electric hatchback choice with a good range.

Volkswagen UK