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Car Review

Vauxhall Astra Electric review

£37,740 - £43,055
610
Published: 08 Dec 2023
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Well, first impressions are that it’s very quiet indeed. Obviously you’d expect that from an EV, but Vauxhall hasn’t messed about with any futuristic sound generators or Abarth-style external speakers that replicate engine noise.

There’s more to the quietness though, because Vauxhall has included noise-reducing double-glazed glass as standard and there are new door and boot seals to really calm the cabin down.

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It’s relaxing to drive then?

Mostly yes. It’s certainly not quick, that’s for sure. With just 154bhp attempting to shift 1,661kg, 0-62mph takes a hefty 9.2 seconds and there’s never that punch-in-the-chest acceleration that we’ve become used to with EVs.

That’s just fine though, because the Astra is a humdrum hatch that doesn’t need 400bhp and all-wheel drive. This is the type of car that automakers will be hoping convinces the rest of the mainstream to go electric, especially as Vauxhall has committed to being an all-EV brand by 2028.

The suspension is quiet, too: road noise and clanging suspension always make any ride discomfort seem worse. Actually the Astra Electric does have a fairly firm ride, but it's not crashy, and is well damped rather than floaty.

Any fun to be had?

The steering is accurate and well matched to the suspension, so it's an easy car to point accurately, which adds to the feeling of relaxation. But as this is a low-slung hatch not a crossover, it can also be fairly agile and fluent. But there's no real fun to be had threading this car down a back road. The petrol Astra is livelier and the one to go for if involvement is your thing.

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The special Michelin e.Primacy tyres reduce rolling resistance to extend your range. They don't have that much cornering grip, but in a way that adds to the fun. Power and grip are well balanced here.

It’s worth noting that you only get the full 154bhp in Sport mode. In Normal you’ve got 134bhp and in Eco it’s just 107bhp. Unless you need more oomph to get out of a tricky situation, in which case the full 154bhp is activated if you mash the pedal through its kickdown notch to the floor. Clever, but then why bother in the first place?

There’s regen braking of course, but no paddles behind the wheel so you only have the option of one separate B mode to get closer to one-pedal driving. The brakes are decently progressive, with a well-calibrated transition between regen and actual pad-on-disc action. They’re so good in fact that we avoided the B mode so we could spend more time using the pedal.

And is it efficient?

It really is. With a drag coefficient of 0.26 (yep, that’s a match for the Calibra) this current Astra slips through the air nicely. That means you don’t get much wind noise in the cabin at all, and it also helps with efficiency. On a warm day during a mixed drive in town, on motorways and on country roads we managed around 4.1mi/kWh. Impressive. On a chillier UK drive we saw 3.7mi/kWh. Still pretty good going.

In fact with all the Stellantis cars using this new powertrain – 51kWh and 154bhp – we've got closer to the WLTP range than in most other EVs. We'd expect 190-odd miles in mixed driving in the cold, and perhaps as much as 220 miles when it’s warmer. Batteries hate the cold, remember. Much of that can be put down to the standard heat pump.

Recharge times are good too. It's not spectacular in terms of power (the kilowatt variety), but it doesn't need to be because the battery isn't huge. So you don't need a 150kW charger; it peaks at 100kW. We went from 25-75 per cent in exactly 25 minutes, a pretty close match for the manufacturer's claim. That's 110 miles' real range added. At 75 per cent it was drawing 48kW.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

115kW Design 54kWh 5dr Auto
  • 0-629.2s
  • CO20
  • BHP154.2
  • MPG
  • Price£37,740

the cheapest

115kW Design 54kWh 5dr Auto
  • 0-629.2s
  • CO20
  • BHP154.2
  • MPG
  • Price£37,740

the greenest

115kW Design 54kWh 5dr Auto
  • 0-629.2s
  • CO20
  • BHP154.2
  • MPG
  • Price£37,740

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