Just testing: Vauxhall Astra 1.4T 150PS Elite Nav

The high-spec Astra offers lots of bells and whistles. But does it have the substance to impress our motoring correspondent?

By Tim Gibson

I was excited by the prospect of testing the Vauxhall Astra Elite Nav. The last Vauxhall I drove before that was the same spec Insignia, which I took on a photo shoot around the North Coast 500 in Scotland. After spending around 18 hours behind its wheel for four consecutive days, I concluded that it was one of the comfiest vehicles I’d driven. I even contemplated choosing one as my next company car.

So when I received the press booking for the Astra, my hopes were high. Here was a cost-effective vehicle that promised bags of spec and a gutsy 150PS engine with real-world fuel consumption that can top 50mpg. Based on the quality I’d experienced in its big brother, I thought it would prove a winner.

Alas, within a few minutes of plonking myself behind its steering wheel, my optimism faded. It’s not that the Astra is an unpleasant place to be. But it doesn’t quite hit the premium note that Vauxhall is clearly aiming for, especially with this Elite-spec variant.

The centre console is a mass of fiddly switches promising all sorts of riches: a heated steering wheel, three-mode heated seats, climate control, DAB digital radio, infotainment, sat nav, on-board cappuccino maker, holographic dancing girls, and so on. Actually, I made up those last two, but you get my drift.

Even with all the bells and whistles, the Astra can’t help but feel a little low rent against rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon, and Skoda Octavia. Even the long-in-the-tooth Volvo V40 is appealing by comparison, not least because the switchgear will feel just as solid in three years’ time as it does out of the box. The same can’t be said of the Vauxhall.

My biggest bugbear is the quality of plastics used on the door inserts. If you’re paying for a brand-new high-spec motor, I think it’s fair to expect something better than the sort of plastic most commonly seen on kids’ toys. Cheap doesn’t even come close.

Where the Astra scores well is performance. Get the turbo buzzing on that petrol lump and you can easily entertain yourself on a twisting country lane. It’s not quite a GTI (there’s a 1.6T 200bhp version for those who want real performance), but it’s certainly enough for most drivers.

The ride is pretty good, too. At slow speeds, the Astra can feel a bit twitchy over potholes and uneven asphalt. But put it on a flat piece of motorway and you feel as if you could cruise all day without breaking sweat.

When Vauxhall launched this generation Astra a couple of years ago, it made a big deal of its interior space. Compared to the model it replaced it was lighter and smaller on the outside, but far roomier for occupants. The result is ample head and legroom for front and rear passengers alike. But oh!, those seats. The leather-clad fascias look sumptuous and inviting, which only adds to the sense of disappointment when you settle onto something with all the comfort of a park bench. The back feels too upright, and it’s a job to believe there is any padding in the base at all. 

Herein lies the rub with this car. From a distance, it looks as if it has everything to please a discerning buyer. Pound for pound, it offers far better value than the prestige brands mentioned above. But once you get near, you realise there’s a reason for the premium charged by the likes of VW.

Spending time with the Astra is a bit like discovering the Prada leather jacket you’ve been admiring on the internet is actually a PVC coat from Primark. It looks the part from afar, but simply doesn’t have the quality to match.

Still, if you’re working on a budget and want to maximise your spending power, the Astra is worth a look. For my money, the Golf or V40 are better options, even if you sacrifice a few toys along the way. But there’s clearly a market for what the Astra offers. Just look at the success of Primark.

On test

  • Vauxhall Astra 1.4T Elite Nav
  • 150PS
  • 4mpg on combined cycle (official figure)
  • 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds
  • 128g/km CO2 emissions
  • Price: OTR from £22,140 (but you’re likely to get a hefty discount if you haggle)

Tim Gibson has written about cars for 25 years. His work regularly appears in The Daily Telegraph and other national media.

Published: 1 March 2019

© Copyright Just Recruitment 2019

Jobs currently available

New job
Marketing Executive
Sector: Marketing, Advertising and PR
Salary: £19,000 - £22,000 per annum
Location: Colchester
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908800
About the role

Are you target-driven and enjoy creating and implementing marketing strategists? 

Are you a people person who enjoys developing relationships? 

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Marketing Executive on behalf of a company based in Colchester. 

Your duties will include: 

  • Effectively implement subscription marketing plans and renewals to meet the agreed targets. 
  • Develop and agree cost-effective promotional activities, with an agreed expected revenue return. 
  • Use information and systems to prepare pre-activity forecasts, track performance and undertake post-activity evaluation to supply to the Senior Marketing Executive and Marketing and Promotions Manager. 
  • Identify potential problems and propose solutions. 

You will be: 

  • Able to think laterally, to make use of all our marketing channels to leverage subscriptions through promotional content across print and digital, email marketing, social media, exhibitions and much more. 
  • Analytical, and keen to monitor and evaluate the success of marketing initiatives through weekly reporting to feed back to the Senior Marketing Executive. 
  • Detail-orientated and able to take responsibility for the day-to-day management of all campaigns, including setting up promotions, briefing studio, building web pages, setting up media requests for our subscriptions bureau, photography, briefing the warehouse, managing the e-commerce website ensuring all offers are loaded for relevant brands. 
Read more
New job
Sales Administrator
Sector: Public Service and Administration
Salary: Negotiable
Location: Witham
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908761
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a well-established manufacturing company based in Witham.

You will have the ambition to succeed and the ability to work on your own initiative with good customer service skills.

Duties include:

  • Following up quotes by phone and email
  • Checking quotes and emails and adjusting prices to win business
  • Prospect calling
  • Booking meetings for the Business Development Managers
  • Warm calls to existing calls
  • Technical queries, quotes and orders
  • Customer service and query answering
  • Incoming calls

Working ideally 9.00am to 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

20 days holiday per year (3 to be taken over Xmas) + bank holidays.

Read more
New job
QC Technician
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £15.00 per hour
Location: Sudbury, Suffolk
Role: Full Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 908368
About the role

Calling all QC Technicians

Do you have a degree in chemistry?

Do you have effective communication skills?

Do you have experience and working knowledge in a Chemical and Biological Analytical Technique environment?

Do you have experience in dissolved gas analysis and blood gas analysis?

Just Recruitment is looking to recruit on behalf of a busy company based in the Sudbury (Suffolk) area for a QC Technician on a temporary ongoing basis.


  • QC testing, data collection, analysis, interpretation and reporting.
  • Preparing for customer, regulatory and notified body audits.
  • Quality Related Training.
  • Quality testing related improvement projects and quality initiatives.
  • Understanding of GxP requirements.

Working hours:

Monday to Friday, 7:45am to 4:50pm.


  • Free tea and coffee.
  • On site parking.
  • Weekly pay.
Read more
New job
Machine Operator
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £8.40 per hour
Location: Haverhill
Role: Full Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 908151
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking for an experienced Machine Operator on behalf of a company based in Haverhill.

Working hours are:

Monday to Friday, 8am until 5pm.

Read more
New job
Operational Support Engineer
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: Dependant on experience
Location: Gillingham, Kent
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908799
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for an Operational Support Engineer (Automotive) on behalf of a company based in Gillingham, Kent.

Your main duties and responsibilities:

  • Deliver projects and process improvements from concept through to completion.
  • Provide practical problem solving on the process.
  • To support the operation in terms of providing the means and process to manufacture product to the correct quality, volume as well as cost.
  • To actively reduce costs of manufacture (MEIT) whilst maintaining product quality and volume.
  • Support the hourly needs of the operation by monitoring and responding to process output signals such as OA performance, Traffic light charts, FTQ data etc.
  • Monitor daily reject returns, gather data and implement robust fixes.
  • Work closely with operations to ensure production output targets are sustained.
  • Be responsible for ensuring that all equipment used in manufacturing or assembly processes is functioning and in specification.
  • Create operational standard work and line balance, understanding process constraints.
  • Be responsible for ensuring that all gauging equipment used in manufacturing or assembly processes is functioning, working within specification and calibrated.
  • To provide structured problem-solving activity and liaise with internal and/or external individuals on problem resolution.
  • Carry out FMEA process documentation and implement improvements.
  • Ensure that the work environment meets the requirements for environmental, ergonomic, health and safety considerations.

Essential requirements:

  • Hands on experience of CNC machining processes in a manufacturing environment – grinding, turning, milling etc.
  • Ability to work in a structured, organised manner and mindful of standard work – both as applied to the manufacturing process and in the engineers’ approach to workload.
  • Analytical and data literate.
  • Current IT knowledge of MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, project etc.

Desirable requirements:

  • Ideally (Mechanical) Engineering Degree or ‘time served’ or relevant industry experience in a broad spectrum of activities.
  • Various shifts including day shifts are available.
Read more