FirstDrive: Vauxhall Astra 1.6i VVT Exclusiv 5dr – Engine/Performance


The 1.6-litre petrol engine offered here is a naturally aspirated unit fitted with variable-valve timing and develops 115bhp and 114ft-lb of torque.

It’s expected to be one of the more popular choices at this end of the range but we wouldn’t recommend going for this powerplant.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6-litre petrol engine
Performance isn’t as strong as we’d hoped*

Naturally, performance is accessed higher up in the rev range above 4000rpm but there’s no pleasure to be had in doing so either. With a reluctance to work its way towards the red line, the engine in general feels pretty gutless. Without a noticeable change in performance throughout the rev range, there is very little payoff to be had for when you do have the patience to wring it out.

The unit sounds a bit strangled too, vocalising the little fun its having – along with the driver.

For someone who will spend most of their time in town or in low-speed traffic, the 1.4-litre petrol would most likely be the more logical choice. There are no real performance gains to be had by choosing this 1.6-litre unit above it, and having a bigger engine that needs to be revved will just see low fuel consumption figures and the unnecessary need to pay for road tax premiums (although both sit in the same insurance group).

If you do want more performance from a petrol, we’d recommend one of the turbocharged  engines higher up in the range. They won’t be a guaranteed firecracker but the extra torque will be welcome at least. If you’re not adverse to diesel, the 1.7-litre engine producing 123bhp would provide a more relaxed drive, which is probably just as well with that notchy 5-speed gearbox…


Spec: Exclusiv 5dr hatch
Engine: 1.6 Petrol, 115bhp (@ 6000rpm), 114lb ft (@ 4000rpm)
Transmission: 5 Speed Manual
Mpg: Official: 44.8mpg Achieved: 34mpg
Performance: 0-62mph: 10.9 Secs, 118mph
Colour: Technical Grey
Options: None

*Pictures sourced for reference only from AutoTrader

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