Astra assessment

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It had been my intention to reduce the road-testing of ordinary family-type cars in what should be sporting pages, but I found a Vauxhall Astra 1600S GL awaiting me in the office car park, so will just say a few words about it. This compact Continental-shod five-door Hatchback is a convenient and certainly not sluggish little car (104 m.p.h. and 0-60 m.p.h. in 10.8 sec.) that runs quietly for its size with just a trace of transverse-power gear whine. The 1,589 c.c. o.h.c. engine pulls from under the legal town speed-limit in top gear of the pleasant-to-use box. There are easily-read instruments, front-drive sure-footedness, and the auto choke got things going immediately in the English winter, although the screen washers froze — has General Motors not heard of washer anti-freeze?

The simple-to-use heater is extremely effective, although side and rear-window demisting might be improved, for extreme conditions, the front doors could do with more effective “keeps”, and the fuel-tank filler is desperately slow when you want to brim the 9, gallon tank, and the lockable filler-cap can be fumbly. Fuel consumption in average usage was 36.8 m.p.g. The area of window glass is generous and the intermittent action of the rear-window wiper useful. Two external mirrors are fitted, the driver’s adjustable from within. There are plenty of the right sort of stowages. The rear-window demister switch is incorporated in the heater-fan knob, like the interior light/lamps switch on the older Vauxhalls. FWD has not resulted in off-set pedals but drivers with normal-size feet will have to park the left one beneath the clutch pedal. One key suffices for all the locks. In all general respects I cannot fault this £6,020 Hatchback, which is willing and easy to drive. — W.B.

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