Vauxhall Astra Electric Sports Tourer: family wagon may be onto a winner
The Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer manages to outshine the rather unexceptional hatchback model, all thanks to its roomier cabin
- Head-turning looks
- Good to drive
- Cheap-feeling interior
- Disappointing range
- Still rather expensive
Wallbox charge time (0-100% 7.4kW)
Rapid charge time (20-80% 100kW)
Vauxhall Astra Electric Sports Tourer verdict
The Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer manages to carve itself a niche in a market in which its hatchback sibling simply can't. While it doesn’t offer anything exceptional – especially in the case of range and cabin quality – the Vauxhall’s big boot will win favour with buyers looking for something practical that isn’t an SUV. Like the hatchback, the electric Astra estate is pretty good to drive, but also like the hatch it’s also pretty expensive to buy; private buyers may still be better-off by choosing the cheaper, if a bit rough-around-the-edges MG5 EV, but company car buyers looking for an electric estate will certainly have their needs and wants fulfilled by the Sports Tourer.
It’s fair to say we weren’t particularly wowed by the Vauxhall Astra Electric; while the petrol-powered Astra has long been a popular pick for family-car buyers, a mediocre range, plasticky interior and eye-watering price tag means the electric model is difficult to recommend over almost any of the multi-talented competition.
In comes the Vauxhall Astra Electric Sports Tourer and things may be looking up for the family car icon. This new electric estate model has very little direct competition at the moment, with the mechanically-similar Peugeot E-308 SW, as well as the penny-pinching MG5 EV being the biggest threats to the Sports Tourer’s sales success.
On paper, at least, the Sports Tourer looks to address one of our other main problems we have with the Vauxhall Astra Electric; while that car has a rather unremarkable 352-litre boot, opting for the estate bumps this figure up to 516 litres – roughly 50 litres more than what you’d get in a similarly-priced Kia Niro EV. Unlike the MG5, there’s no load lip, making it easy to slide luggage or prams inside, while Vauxhall has also included a couple of storage nets for smaller items, as well as some levers to easily fold the rear seats down – doing so will expand the load area to a useful 1,553 litres.
The wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) has also been lengthened, meaning there’s now even more legroom; the boxy roofline also means adult passengers sitting in the rear have plenty of headroom, too. That being said, given the Vauxhall Astra Electric is based on a pre-existing petrol model, a hump remains in the rear floor where the transmission tunnel would usually be, meaning it can be a bit uncomfortable to sit three people abreast.
As for the rest of the Astra Electric Sports Tourer’s interior, it’s a bit of a mixed bag if we’re honest; we like the overall design and how it angles towards the driver, but the materials used feel pretty cheap – especially in a car costing as much as this – with the shiny gloss black plastics being magnets for scratches and fingerprints.
All versions feature dual 10-inch screens mounted alongside each other in what Vauxhall calls its ‘Pure Panel’ infotainment setup. We like how the climate controls aren’t integrated into the screen – these are housed in their own row of toggle switches – and no matter which model you choose, every Astra Electric estate gets sat nav, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
We’d recommend using either of these as Vauxhall’s software can be a bit of a pain to use; the graphics are a bit dark and dingy, plus there’s an unwelcome amount of lag when responding to any of your inputs on the touchscreen. The digital dials, on the other hand, are controlled via buttons on the steering wheel and while they aren’t quite as configurable as those on, say, a Renault Megane E-Tech, you can at least display the sat-nav maps right in your field of view.
To keep things simple, Vauxhall only offers the Astra Electric Sports Tourer with one powertrain. This comprises a 154bhp front-mounted electric motor, mated to a 51kWh (usable) battery pack. Maximum range stands at a middling 255 miles, although from our experience, you can expect to return around 230ish miles on a charge – quite a bit less than what’s possible in a similarly-priced Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive.
Thankfully, Vauxhall says a 20-80% top-up at a 100kW public rapid charger will only take around 26 minutes, meaning you’ll be back on the road in just enough time for you to pop to the facilities and grab a customary caffeinated beverage.
Behind the wheel, the Sports Tourer feels much the same as the regular Vauxhall Astra Electric – for better or worse. The petrol Astra is one of the better cars to drive in its class, and this is certainly the case for the electric model, too; while it may not have the same playfulness as some rear-driven zero-emissions models, the front-wheel drive Astra still feels pretty tidy on a twisty road, with well-balanced steering and a nice amount of grip.
All that being said, it’s not going to be lighting anyone’s undergarments ablaze anytime soon; the Astra Electric’s 9.2-second 0-62mph time is as uneventful as you might expect, although the instant torque from the electric motor does make zipping around town a breeze. The accelerator does, at times, take a split second to respond to your inputs, though. It’s a little like waiting for a sneeze to arrive – you know it’s coming, but the short wait until it does leave you feeling a tad disconcerted.
We’ve said this for other Stellantis (Vauxhall’s parent company) models, and we’ll reiterate it again here: the Astra Electric Sports Tourer’s regenerative braking system requires a bit of recalibration. It’s never strong enough for one-pedal driving – even in the strongest ‘B-mode’ setting – with the brakes themselves leaving a lot to be desired, being spongy at first and then overly sharp and grabby whenever you press the pedal further.
From launch, Vauxhall is offering the Astra Electric Sports Tourer in three trim levels: Design, GS and Ultimate. There isn’t all too much to upgrade through the ranks, though, as even the entry-level Design gets auto-dipping LED lights, the aforementioned dual-screen infotainment system and climate control, plus front-and-rear parking sensors for avoiding nasty scrapes and a heat pump to make the car more efficient in the cold weather.
That’s a good thing as, starting from near-as-makes-no-difference £40,000, the Vauxhall Astra Electric Sports Tourer is rather expensive. For the same money you can have a Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive which, while not quite as practical as the Vauxhall, feels a much more well-rounded (and premium) package overall – not to mention the Tesla’s much longer electric range. Still, the Vauxhall remains less than half the price of a Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo – one of the very few other electric estates on sale.