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

SEAT celebrates 40 years of the Ibiza

Gareth Herincx

16 hours ago
Auto News

SEAT Ibiza 40th anniversary

Spanish car brand SEAT is marking 40 years of its best-selling model with the Ibiza Anniversary Limited Edition.

Since its introduction in 1984, more than six million SEAT Ibiza cars have been sold over five generations.

Named after the island of Ibiza, it was a turning point for the company’s success.

The first-generation model was the first vehicle developed by the brand without the assistance of a technological partner, drawing on internal expertise and that of partners including Giorgetto Giugiaro for the exterior styling, Karmann for the interior design and Porsche for the powertrain.

“The success of the iconic Ibiza meant that some countries recognised the vehicle even before the brand! said SEAT CEO Wayne Griffiths.

SEAT Ibiza Anniversary Limited Edition

The SEAT Ibiza Anniversary Limited Edition will feature new equipment, as well as a new alloy wheel and design cues.

The vehicle’s exterior design benefits from the exclusive Graphene Grey colour on the body and Cosmo Grey on the 18-inch alloy wheels, as well as the standout lasered “Anniversary Limited Edition” logo on the car’s B-pillar.

Inside, the cabin is given a new twist with the introduction of exclusive textile Bucket seats, giving front occupants a new level of dynamism and comfort, a new Dark aluminium matt finish for the door and console, as well as a lasered “Anniversary Limited Edition” logo on the doorstep.

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Mercedes-AMG A45 S review

Mercedes-AMG A45 S review

We take the Mercedes-AMG A45 S – the most powerful hot hatch on the market – for a spin…

It could be argued that the concept of the ‘hot hatch’ – in the traditional sense – is now in its dying days.

After all, we live in an era where a family EV is often quicker off the mark than many a performance ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car.

Mercedes-AMG A45 S review

There are only a few genuine ‘hot’ hatches left, including the Audi RS3, Volkswagen Golf R, Honda Civic Type R and the Mercedes-AMG A45 S – the subject of this week’s road test.

Just to recap, the fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback was launched in 2018 and facelifted at the end of 2022.

Topping the range are a pair of performance models (the Mercedes-AMG A 35 and the even-faster Mercedes-AMG A 45 S), which have now also received a makeover.

Mercedes-AMG A45 S review

The A 45 S is the most powerful hot hatch on the market (415bhp and 369lb ft of torque) and it features the world’s most potent series-production four-cylinder engine.

The key stats say it all, because that turbocharged 2.0-litre engine means it’s capable of 0–62mph in a blistering 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 168mph.

Oh, and all that power is directed to the road via an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox and AMG’s 4Matic all-wheel drive system.

Mercedes-AMG A45 S review

For what it’s worth, fuel economy is a claimed 30.8mpg. And frankly, unless you possess superhuman levels of restraint, the reality is closer to 25mpg.

First impressions count and the Mercedes-AMG A45 S is a statement car.

Apart from new front and rear lights and an AMG badge on the bonnet, the update hasn’t made much of a difference to the car externally – which is no bad thing.

Mercedes-AMG A45 S review

With its aggressive stance, lower lip spoiler, quad-exhaust pipes, front bumper canards and a massive rear wing, it oozes performance.

Inside, the first thing you notice is the driving position, which is a tad high, while the seats are on the firm side. The dashboard is shared with standard A-Class models, so there’s an impressive dual-screen set-up and a head-up display.

If you prefer things minimalist, the Mercedes-AMG A45 S may not be for you. There’s a complex twin-spoke steering wheel incorporating two mode buttons, five circular air vents and a line of climate-control switches.

Mercedes-AMG A45 S review

There’s plenty of room up front, but those bucket seats eat into the rear passenger space, so best to try the space for size.

The 370-litre boot is about average for a family hatchback and there’s a useful 40/20/40-split rear bench.

Of course, premium materials are used throughout the interior and it’s hard to fault the overall build quality, inside and out.

Mercedes-AMG A45 S review

Naturally, the Mercedes-AMG A45 S is a little more vocal on start-up than your average hatchback, but it’s not anti-social.

In fact, it’s really easy-going, happy pootling around town and cruising on the motorway. Put your foot down and it’s a car transformed. The exhaust note is angrier, it pumps through the gears and before you know it, you’re up to the legal limit.

Traction is prodigious, but hot hatches aren’t just about straight-line speed – it’s how they cope on more challenging roads.

Mercedes-AMG A45 S review

And it’s here that the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S is in another league. There are a bewildering amount of drive mode settings (there’s even a drift mode), and you can tweak the steering, suspension and exhaust, but ultimately, the sportier you get the more astonishing it becomes.

With sharp, responsive steering, phenomenal cornering ability, powerful brakes and a glorious rear bias, it’s remarkably forgiving and remains unbelievably composed.

I can’t pretend to understand all the clever, technical stuff going on behind the scenes. All I know if that it works superbly. Not only does it put a smile on your face, but it leaves you yearning for more. This could be an entertaining track day weapon.

Mercedes-AMG A45 S review

My only criticism is that the ride is firm, even in comfort mode, but it’s certainly not a deal-breaker. Sadly, the starting price of £63,285 will be for many.

Verdict: Quite simply, the Mercedes-AMG A45 S is one of the best hot hatches ever – a heady mix of power, superb driving engagement, top build quality and practicality.

Mercedes-Benz UK

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

Mercedes-Benz A-Class review

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

We road test the updated Mercedes-Benz A-Class – the entry-level model in the three-pointed star line-up…

Priced from £31,905 and available as a hatchback or saloon, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been a huge success, delivering a relatively affordable, yet stylish and upmarket family car.

The latest model was launched in 2018 and quickly become one of the best-selling cars in the UK (it was the fourth most popular car after the MINI in 2021).

Now in its fourth generation, the A-Class continues to shine in a sector not without strong competition – think BMW 1 Series, Audi A3, Peugeot 308, DS 4 and MINI Clubman.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

So, what’s new for 2023? Well, there’s tweaked styling, upgraded equipment, added mild hybrid petrol engine technology and a wider colour choice.

The exterior changes are subtle with revised lights front and rear, and LEDs as standard. There are now a couple of slim bonnet bulges and the front grille is bigger than ever.

The big change is inside where the latest MBUX infotainment system has been fitted.

As seen on Mercedes-Benz cars higher up the range, it’s a slick and stylish set-up featuring two 10.25-inch screens.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Meanwhile, it’s more comfortable than ever with four-way lumbar support on both seats up front, while the overall quality of materials in the cabin and finish is superb.

There’s a choice of three petrol engines, a diesel and a plug-in hybrid.

All new Mercedes-Benz A-Class petrol engines now have 48V mild hybrid tech.

A 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo is at the core of the petrol and hybrid engine options, while the diesel gets a 148bhp 2.0-litre unit, delivering 57.6mpg economy.

We tested the entry-level A180 (petrol) and A250 e (plug-in hybrid) versions.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The former produces 134bhp, delivering a 0-62mph time of 9.3 seconds and a top speed of 134mph. Capable of up to 48.7mph, its CO2 emissions are a reasonable 134g/km.

The PHEV option, which sadly is only available on the saloon version of the A-Class, pairs the 1.3-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, giving a total output of 212bhp.

The small 15.6kWh battery gives a pure EV range of up to 51 miles with on-paper fuel economy of up to 353mpg, and CO2 emissions of just 23g/km.

With a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds, it has a top speed of 143mph. If you want even more pace, then look at the performance-orientated Mercedes-AMG A-Class line-up.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

First the A180. The mild hybrid system is designed to make the engine start process quieter and allows the car to ‘sail’ with the engine switched off when cruising or coasting to a halt.

On the road the A 180 feels swifter than the official figures suggest – more than enough for everyday driving.

The mild hybrid tech works well, with smooth starting from a standstill and extra oomph when you get going. Mercedes claims the battery gives the car a 14bhp power boost when pulling away or during acceleration, and I can well believe this. What’s more, 50mpg is very achievable on a sensibly-driven longer run.

You can also choose from four driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual). As ever, Comfort is just fine, with Eco dulling the driving the experience. Sport increases throttle response and livens up things a little, but the A180 is at its best cruising along.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The engine is refined, only becoming vocal under heavy acceleration, while the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is smooth and responsive.

If you prefer a low driving position, then you’ll like the A-Class. The steering is quick and it can be hustled through corners with well-controlled body roll.

It’s not a Ford Focus or BMW 1-Series, but it feels planted and the ride is a good blend of comfort (on the firm side) and driving engagement.

The A250e PHEV is the more powerful and slicker of our test cars. Starting off in whisper-quiet EV mode, it’s a while before the petrol motor kicks in.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Again, most at home in Comfort mode, it switches from petrol to electric and vice versa smoothly most of the time. It’s a little heavier than its mild hybrid sibling, but it still manages to deliver an enjoyable ride.

The eight-speed automatic gearbox isn’t best in class, but goes through the motions, while the accelerator pedal is a little on the sensitive side.

The A250e can be charged from 10-100% at an AC charging station in 1 hour and 15 minutes, or 1 hour 45 minutes using a home wallbox.

Given the tax benefits, the A250e makes absolute sense for business users. Private buyers should be put off though. If you can manage without the hatchback, you have a home charger and you don’t cover high mileages, your visits to the petrol station will be few and far between because you’ll be running your A-Class in EV mode most of the time.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

When it comes to space, the A-Class has plenty up front, and unless you’re over six foot, it’s fine in the back too. Luggage capacity is a useful 355 litres in the hatchback, expanding to 1,195 with the rear seats folded. Battery storage means the PHEV takes a small hit (345/1125 litres).

Ultimately, the A-Class isn’t quite as sporty as it looks, but there’s still fun to be had, it drives well, and it’s practical.

Verdict: Mercedes-Benz has done just enough to keep the A-Class relevant in the premium family hatchback sector. Stylish, easy to drive, comfortable and well equipped, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class oozes quality.

Mercedes-Benz UK