As a one car family it can be a little difficult in the school holidays to keep the children entertained, I love living where we do however there isn’t much to do within walking distance for the children and as Paul uses the car for work we need to plan carefully and book in days where we can use the car for our fun adventures.
Over Easter I went away with the children for a long weekend with my sister and our kids to Walton on the Naze, leaving our husbands behind as they had to go to work, Vauxhall came to my rescue here in lending me a beautiful Vauxhall Astra ST to review for the week.
Our family car is a Vauxhall Insignia and pre-kids Paul had an Astra so I was very excited to see what the Sports Tourer had to offer, smaller than our car but bigger than the standard Astra.
I’ll begin by saying in advance this will not be an in-depth review about the car specs and how it performs, I am a parenting blogger not a tech one or a petrol head, for me to pretend to know what I am talking about when it comes to horse power and revs per minute, torque or handling would be rather silly – that all means nothing to me – I will however let you know how much shopping you can fit into the boot, how easy it is to fit the car seats into and how suitable it is for family life, if you are looking for a more in-depth review I suggest you head over to the Vauxhall website or Google!
The car I used for the week was a Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, ELITE NAV 1.4i Tubro, which costs around £22,685 basic list price, mine had lots of added extras so the price was £25,205.
As with all new cars, you can choose which added extras you would like and customise it to suit your needs – we don’t have all of these on our Insignia however since experiencing them with this car there are a few I will be wanting when we lease our new one towards the end of next year when our 2 year deal is up; there are 3 which this car had which since giving the car back I really miss, these are:
- The Start/Stop engine – no more unlocking the car, putting the keys in your pocket to strap in the kids and then not being able to find them again quickly (this happens to Paul all the time), you can unlock the car with the push of a button and then put the keys in your bag as there is no car key to start the car – just push a button to start the engine, and push it again to stop. If you forget to stop the engine and you open the drivers door there will be a beeping sounds so there is no risk of leaving the engine running by mistake – rather handy as the engine really is very quiet.
- Parking sensors – I didn’t realise just how handy these really are, especially where we live as parking is limited and you have to be able to parallel park in order to park outside our house. There is an in-car display which shows 3 lines when parking, a beeping noise will sound when an object is in-front or behind and as you get closer the lines light up and the beeping changes to very fast when you are too close.
Of course you can turn these sensors off at the push of a button which I had to do when driving through London, if sitting in traffic and a car pulls up close to you they will beep to let you know which can be very annoying in traffic jams.
- Opening and closing the boot at the push of a button – this is the thing I miss the most, and the thing I never knew I really needed until I now don’t have it.
When unloading the car on holiday I could open the boot before I got to the car and then when my arms were full of suitcases, swimming gear and buckets & spades I could close the boot by either pressing a button on the car or the button on the key fob, meaning I didn’t have to leave the car open while I unloaded. You can also open the boot from the drivers seat by pressing a button at the bottom near the foot well – great for unloading shopping.
Inside this car
The seats all had leather trim which is of course great with children as you can wipe them down easily. The sports fronts seats were extremely comfortable and the front seats also have adjustable armrests. Being short I need to move my seat all the way forward to accommodate my little legs, this wasn’t a problem as I could adjust the steering wheel position to move upwards so it didn’t sit on my lap making driving very comfortable.
It had a Navi 900 interlink system which is the same as our Insignia, you can either type in the address of your destination or the postcode or you can show landmarks/POI (point of interest) instead. You can access you recent journeys at the push of a button and if you hit traffic a new route will be calculated if there is one, which you can then chose to follow or decline at the push of a button. The directions are shown on the centre console alone with a map/route of your journey and also the immediate directions will appear on the dashboard just before you need to execute them e.g. turn right, this can be removed at the push of a button on the steering wheel.
You can pair your phone with the car via Bluetooth to make and receive calls hands free – which is of course great for when you are driving, and you can press a button on the steering wheel and use voice controls to dial the number saying “Call Paul Mobile or dial 01992…….”. You can also play your music from your phone or Spotify playlists via the car speakers via Bluetooth connection.
There are 2 proper back seats and a smaller middle seat which is more like a half seat, you can’t get 3 big car seats into this car. Both Emmy and Harry have large car seats which will see them through until they are 11/12, adjustable but bulky as they are full sized high backed boosters with lots of padding and protection, this means when their seats are in the back there is pretty much no middle seat in the back. You can fit a bag or two in the middle of the seats however squeezing a person in would be VERY uncomfortable (I’ve tried and believe me you won’t want to do for longer than 5 minutes) – you possibly could fit 3 smaller booster seats alone the back seats but I haven’t tried this myself.
Fitting the carseats took seconds, straight from one car to the other as these ones are secured using the adult seatbelt once the children are sitting in them, there is however ISOFIX connections in the back of the Astra ST, which when not in use are covered over by a flap.
There are also back pockets on the front seats which is great for stopping the children’s toys rolling around the car or for holding their tablet computers and there are 2 USB charging points in the back of the car. The electric windows can also be locked for the back windows so children aren’t always playing with them.
This is rather spacious, with no spare wheel (new cars now just tend to come with run flat tyres so you can get to a garage to change them), there is enough room in the back to easily fit a weeks worth of shopping inside and more, and it can happily accommodate the families luggage for holidays – I managed to easily fit in a weekend sized suitcase, a large holdall, 2 scooters, a large swimming bag, a case of wine, food shopping for the weekend to feed 8 people (we self-cater our caravan holidays), towels, toys, pillows and a bed-guard and still had room left for a suitcase of my sisters with a little space left over.
We no longer use buggies so I can’t tell you which will and won’t fit but having used LOADS over the years I can say that the umbrella style ones will go in without a problem and even the bulkier ones shouldn’t be a problem as long as the seat units remove, you’ll even get some shopping in too – it has a very large boot.
This is a lovely sized car for a family or 4 or less, with the smaller middle back seat it would limit families of 5, even if they weren’t in car seats.
It was lovely to drive and a perfect size – not too big (I find our Insignia rather large) and certainly not too small, it’s nippy and with all the added extras its super comfy too. I already miss this car and it is on my wish list as a perfect family car.
Others things this car has which I’ve not yet mentioned are: 17-inch multispoke alloy wheels, cruise control speed limiter, automatic lights and wipers, electronic dual zone climate control, electronically folding door mirrors, Hill start assist – of course there are others I have forgotten however I’ve already said this wasn’t to be the most technical review.
Disclaimer: I was loaned this car for a week in exchange for an honest review, as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.