The Vauxhall Astra is a household name in family cars for good reason. It’s a motor that offers comfort, economic driving and reliability. You’ll find the engines on offer have great performance too. As far as second-hand cars go, it’s hard to go wrong with a Vauxhall Astra, you’ll get plenty of car without a massive price tag. And because they were so popular as new car buys, it shouldn’t be too difficult to seek out a well-looked after model.

The first wave of the Astra Mk6 was released in 2009 as a five-door hatch. Not long after the smaller and sleeker three-door GTC and Sports Tourer estate followed. In 2011, a more economical Astra eco-FLEX arrived on the scene and in 2012 a facelift improved the interior spec and tweaked the outside styling.

If you’re on the market for an Mk6 Astra, it makes sense to keep your eyes open for the post-2012 models as you’ll get a slightly sleeker design and improved tech.

Lifting the bonnet of the Vauxhall Astra

There’s a wide array of engine choices when it comes to the Astra. At the lower end of the power scale, you have the 1.3-litre diesel which is cheap to run and inexpensive to buy.

On the other side of the scale, you have a high-performance hot hatch engine, the 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel with 192bhp that will get from 0-60 in under eight seconds and set you back around £150 in road tax each year.

The petrol engines have an equally wide choice. The 1.6-litre is a good option if most of your miles are in and around town. For those of us who chew through the miles with a motorway commute or regular weekend road trips, the 1.6-litre diesel is a good bet. It’ll be less noisy than the 2.0-litre and just as flexible and efficient, if not more.

The 2011 release 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX is embellished with fuel-saving and CO2-emission-lowering technology like stop/start. It’s a good little motor and will only cost you £20 a year in road tax.

Servicing for the Mk6 Vauxhall Astra is required every year or 20,000 miles – whichever comes first – and it’s worth checking the service history to make sure the third and fourth recalls, pertaining to the radiator issues, have been taken care of. If the service history has no indication of work, you can double-check with the DVSA’s recall records – just punch in the car rego and they’ll let you know.

Vauxhall Astra cabin check

There’s a decent amount of room for the driver and front passenger in the Astra. The back isn’t too bad either although you’ll find the sportier versions lack a little headroom thanks to the sloping roof.

The boot is reasonably spacious, at 370-litres and the rectangular space makes it easier to fit a buggy in with a few bags of shopping.

The infotainment system isn’t quite as straightforward as rival makes, but you’ll still get everything you need. Tech Line trim is by far the best option for the kit vs cost balance. That’ll get you Bluetooth connectivity, CD player, sat-nav, USB port, and DAB radio. For 17” alloys and a sportier feel, look for an SRI trim level.

Watch out for…

No used car comes without some foibles picked up as it ages. When it comes to the Vauxhall Astra watch out for creaks and groans on the interior. The first recall for this model was to replace passenger seat bolts. The second recall was for electric windows to ensure they wouldn’t continue closing on obstructions.

The electric handbrake can cause issues – failing unexpectedly on some cases which understandably causes problems. So make sure you check this out when looking over a potential used car.

Knocks at the front can indicate worn suspension – not a massive expense to put right but worth mentioning if you move ahead with negotiations.

All in all, the Vauxhall Astra is a good five-door family car. The three-door hatch and estate versions aren’t too bad either. If we could choose our ideal model, it’d be the 1.6-litre diesel in Tech Line trim and we’d make sure any recalls had been seen to.

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