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

Featured job
Management Accountant
Sector: Accountancy, Banking and Finance
Salary: £30,000 - £38,000
Location: Haverhill
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 906965
About the role

The Just Recruitment Group have a superb opportunity for an experienced Management Accountant to join our client on a fulltime, permanent basis working near to Haverhill.

Reporting directly to the CEO of this fast growing successful company. The business is currently growing at 20% per annum and is at a pivotal moment in its development. New premises have been purchased and new sales and accounting systems are due to be installed in the coming 6 months. This role will be part of the senior management team and involved in key decision making for the business going forward.

Responsibilities include:

  • Responsible for the whole of the accounts department and production of the monthly management report and KPIs.
  • Managing the accounts assistant who has primary responsibility for the purchase ledger.
  • Managing UK and overseas payments, controlling deposits and advance payments.
  • Cash management including weekly forecasting of cash and credit control.
  • Running all aspects of payroll.
  • Management of Royal London pension scheme.
  • Responsibility of all company insurances and utility suppliers.
  • Working with the Operations Manager, analysing profit and cost variances to budget.
  • Implementation of new accounting system, which will free up purchase ledger clerk to take some of the more administrative elements of this role.
  • Job and departmental profit analysis.
  • Monthly VAT returns and Bank reconciliations.
  • Ad-hoc tasks necessary for the for Senior Managers and Directors.
  • Management of personnel files.
  • Administration and other duties relevant to the role.

The ideal candidate will possess the following skills:

  • Experience working in a fast moving busy office environment.
  • Ability to work to deadlines, quickly and accurately under pressure.
  • Ability to prioritise.
  • Discretion required due to nature of the role.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Confident in using Microsoft Excel.
  • Flexible and adaptable.
  • ACA/ACCA/CIMA Qualifications are desirable but not essential.


Read more
Sales Proposals Coordinator
Sector: Sales
Salary: £18,000 - £20,000
Location: Braintree
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908044
About the role

Just Recruitment is currently recruiting for a Sales Proposals Coordinator to be based in Braintree. 

The role will involve providing timely quotations to customer enquiries, sales order processing, customer relationship management. 


  • To receive customer enquiries via the telephone or electronically and obtain as much information about the project as possible 
  • Manage enquiries email in-box, respond to general enquiries, collect information to answer enquiries from other parts of the business and pass on where required
  • Acknowledge quote requests to customers and provide relevant SLA to be quoted within 
  • Acknowledge and confirm PO receipts from customers 
  • Set up electronic project files 
  • Maintain and update spreadsheets/trackers 
  • Log enquiries onto the Shared quote book and CRM 
  • Provide the customer with a quotation within SLA 
  • Proactively follow up the quote and secure a PO 
  • Send the order documentation to Operations for order fulfilment 
  • Add the sale to the shared works order book 
  • Develop and enhance business relationships and reputation with existing clients 
  • Maintain a comprehensive CRM commentary of activity and opportunity 
  • Refer potential business to other business sectors 
  • Prepare and send weekly Purchase Order report 
  • Support Customer Service Manager, Business Development Director and Business Development Managers where needed 
  • Proactively approach existing and potential clients with new promotions 
  • Work with colleagues to improve the customer experience 
  • Other duties appropriate to the level of this role 

Qualifications and/or Experience Required: 

  • Proven Sales experience 
  • Thorough analytical approach – good with details 
  • Good engineering education or experience – able to read manufacturing drawings 
  • Excellent communication and organisational skills 
  • Computer literate and conversant in the use of software packages such as Office 365, CRM 
  • Accurate data entry 
Read more
Trainee Project Manager
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £20,000 - £25,000
Location: Braintree
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908043
About the role

Just Recruitment is currently recruiting for a Trainee Project Manager to join a very successful company, offering training and career development opportunities based in Braintree.

You will need to have CAD experience and to have worked within the construction industry, preferably within the architectural or structural steel industry but this is not essential. The role could also appeal to recent graduates with CAD experience looking for a career in a project focused role.

You will be predominantly office based but will be involved in site visits where required. The role is cradle to grave project management including client liaison, design using CAD, procurement of materials, through manufacture to installation. The value and length of the project will vary. Training both internally and externally will be available.

This is a great opportunity to join a forward thinking and reputable business offering the successful person a career in project management. The company fully supports training and career progression opportunities.

The person requires:

  • CAD experience.
  • deally will have experience within the construction industry, preferably architectural or structural metalwork industry but not essential.
  • Will appeal to recent graduates looking for a career in project management.
Read more
Valuations Executive
Sector: Property and Construction
Salary: £21k-£23k
Location: Halstead
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908050
About the role

Just Recruitment is currently recruiting for a Valuations Executive on behalf of a Property company based on the outskirts of Colchester.

The role primarily involves compiling accurate Property Valuation Appraisal reports and distributing them to the relevant client.


  • Compile accurate Property Valuation Appraisal and Desktop Valuation reports
  • Maintain a consistency level within 10% of Valuation vs Sale Price
  • Provide interim valuation updates to Sales Negotiators

The ideal candidate will have:

  • Experience/knowledge within the property industry
  • Report writing experience
  • Excellent customer service
  • Comfortable on the phones

Candidates must have their own transport due to the location of the company.

Read more
Assistant Account Manager
Sector: Property and Construction
Salary: up to £25,000
Location: Halstead
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908051
About the role

Just Recruitment is currently recruiting for an Assistant Account Manager on behalf of a Property company based on the outskirts of Colchester. 

Your primary role is to assist the Account Manager in the day to day running and development of the company’s accounts. You will be also be responsible for supporting the Client Services Director, where appropriate, in the wider needs of the company. 


  • Support the AM in their role
  • Proactively support the Administrator to ensure valuations are booked in as quickly as possible and all associated duties are completed on time
  • Proactively support the Sales Negotiator to ensure properties are sold at the best possible price to the right buyer
  • Proactively support the allocated Sales Progressor to facilitate swift legal completion
  • Compile and provide the AM with a completed Property Valuation Appraisal report
  • Monitor all periodic update reports for clients to ensure appropriate standards are met
  • Ensure client time scales are adhered to and, where appropriate, liaise with client regarding concerns
  • Overseeing vacant property inspections and occasionally being required to attend the property

Occasional weekend working. 

The ideal candidate must have experience within the property industry and have their own transport due to the location of the company. 

Read more