Since first hitting the roads back in 1979, the Vauxhall Astra has become a UK favorite and one of the more common sights on the road. Now on its seventh generation, the Astra is better than ever and well-suited to a wide range of motorists. As such an important car in UK automotive history, here is a closer look at the journey that this superb small family car has been on over the last 39 years.
Interestingly, the Astra was the name given to the right-hand drive version of the Opel Kadett which dates way back to 1936. It was rebranded in 1979 when it became the Astra and replaced the dated Viva – it became Vauxhall’s first front-wheel-drive automobile. It was then given a facelift for the second generation with improved aerodynamics whilst retaining the same engine range. This revamped version won the coveted European Car of the Year award in 1985.
Improvements and Safety Emphasis
The third generation again was more of an upgrade than a completely different vehicle with a large emphasis placed on safety. Next came the fourth generation in 1998 which boasted a new chassis, suspension and interior, but the Mk4 would struggle to compete with the hugely popular Ford Focus in the late 90’s/early 00’s despite its four-star Euro NCAP rating.
Climbing Ahead of the Competition
In 2004, Vauxhall opted to mix things up in a bid to race ahead of the competition. The fifth generation featured a much better looking exterior, an improved experience behind the wheel and a classier interior (an aspect often previously criticised). It also bumped up to a 5 star Euro NCAP rating and this helped the Astra to become the UK’s second best selling car in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Next came the 6th generation in 2009 and, unlike previous generations, it jumped straight to the top of its class thanks to its facelift and great reliability (it is still currently in use by British police forces).
Finally, the 7th generation landed in 2015 and this is the most current incarnation of this much-loved automobile. As you would expect with a modern automobile, the Mk7 is packed full of great technology with features like OnStar connectivity, emergency response notification and stolen recovery alert. It also features more efficient engines and improved overall quality. As always, the Astra remains fairly priced and particularly if you find one in the used car market from somewhere like Motorpoint.
It has been quite the journey for the Astra over the years and it has remained one of the most popular automobiles available. It is suited to a range of motorists and its reliability and low running costs ensure that it will remain popular for the foreseeable future.