Top Gear’s guide to buying a used Vauxhall Astra

February 16, 2023

OK, we’re doing our level best to not invoke platitudes like ‘at the end of the day’, ‘on balance’ or ‘all things considered’, but when you have questions that ask for a blanket assessment of four decades’ worth of automobile... you see where we’re going here. 

So we’ll say that the Astra is generally a reliable machine, if one that has a few serious issues and points of failure that Opel issued recalls for, as well as some niggles that affect the perceived quality. Squeaking, rattling and knocking sounds aren’t exactly what we equate with a well-built, solid product, even if the root cause is as simple as a loose plastic clip on a piece of interior trim. No judgement here, by the way – if there’s one thing that drives us absolutely spare, it’s a trim rattle, and we’ve found it on everything from old bangers to brand-new, six-figure cars. Guess which one we’re a bit more philosophical about?

In any case, if time and circumstances permit, it’s always worth chasing down various rattles, regardless of the car you have. Doing so will give you the peace of mind that the noise doesn’t indicate anything serious – or reveal a worsening issue before it becomes catastrophe. And with life as generally noisy and stressful as it seems to be, surely you want your car to be a calm refuge from the barrage?

Getting back to the Astra specifically, you’ll actually find fairly disappointing results from various owner surveys. That could be a case of poor data – people with something to complain about will be more likely to complain than those doing thousands of trouble-free miles – but if the Astra’s competitors are being rated by like-minded people, it doesn’t add up to a good result for the Griffin. 

Depending on the year and survey in question, the Astra actually tends to score quite poorly, which seems at odds with a) how many you see on the road, b) how few you see on the back of a truck, and c) how well the Astra keeps selling. And if it’s not because it’s the best handling, most entertaining, fastest, cheapest or most attractive car in its class – or with the best badge attached to the bonnet – what is it that keeps buyers coming back? 

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