We attended the 2013 International Mini Meeting in Italy - here's our MSN Cars Mini Mania mega gallery
Used Vauxhall Astra buying guide
The Vauxhall Astra - in summary
The Astra is a very popular family and company fleet hatchback, estate and even convertible. It offers buyers practicality and very low running costs. Parts, servicing and insurance are all affordable, as is the car itself.
What are the Astra's stats?
Top Speed: 137mph/0-60mph 8.0 seconds (2.0 GSi - 1997)
Top Speed: 150mph/0-60mph 7.0 seconds (2.0 Turbo - 2000)
Top Speed: 135mph/0-60mph 8.1 seconds (2.0T SRi - 2005)
Top Speed: 138mph/0-60mph 7.9 seconds (1.6T SRi - 2010)
Slowest: 99mph/0-60mph 15.0 seconds (1.4 - HiTorq 1997)
Slowest: 106mph/0-60mph 13.5 seconds (1.6 - 8V 1998)
Slowest: 111mph/0-60mph 12.8 seconds (1.4 - 16V 2005)
Slowest: 105mph/0-60mph 12.8 seconds (1.4 - 16V 2010)
Best: 47.9 mpg (1.7 TDS - 1997) Worst 34.1mpg (2.0 16V - 1997)
Best: 58.9 mpg (1.7 DTi - 2000) Worst 31.7mpg (2.0 Turbo 16V - 2002)
Best: 58.9 mpg (1.3 CDTi - 2005) Worst 31.4mpg (2.0T - SRi - 2005)
Best: 58.0 mpg (1.3 CDTi EcoFlex - 2010) Worst 41.0mpg (1.6T SRi - 2010)
Emissions: best 130g/km 18% tax (1.3 CDTi - 2005) Worst 223g/km (2.0T SRi - 2005)
Emissions: best 109g/km Band B (1.3 CDTi - 2010) Worst 159g/km Band G (1.6T-SRi - 2010)
Lowest, group 4 (1.4i Expression 2005)
Highest, group 16 (2.0T SRi 2005)
Lowest, group 4 (1.3 CDTI ES 2010)
Highest, group 24 (1.6T SRi 2010)
NCAP safety rating:
Five stars (2009)
Five stars (2004)
Four Stars (1998)
How much for a used Vauxhall Astra?
£0-500 buys a 1998 1.6 five-door with 119,000 miles
£2,000 buys a 2002 1.6i Club five-door with 82,000 miles
£4,000 buys a 2005 1.8i Automatic Club Estate with 39,000 miles
£6,000 buys a 2008 1.9 CDTi SRi five-door with 62,000 miles
£8,000 buys a 2007 1.8 automatic Twin Top Design Convertible with 28,000 miles
Why buy an Astra?
The all-new Astra from 1998 was a refined and spacious vehicle, which put it among the very best small family cars. Revamped again in 2004, it was much better to drive, had even more space and the build quality was significantly better. Now it was on a par, if not better in several areas, with its closest rival the Ford Focus. More recently the Astra has been reworked for 2010 and suddenly it looks a lot sharper, is great to drive and very well built with a new upmarket interior. Used prices have fallen quickly and what is a very modern hatch can now be bought very cheaply.
What's the best spec Astra?
Well, the early 1990s models didn't have much: the Merits were barely equipped, with driver airbags from 1993. A special edition like an Arctic added air conditioning. Things improved with the 1998 onwards mark four, although an entry level Envoy did not have much. The LS delivered a sunroof, adjustable steering and deadlocks, but it was the Club which brought air conditioning in place of a sunroof and a CD player. CD trim didn't just have a CD but also heated electric mirrors and uprated upholstery.
For traction control, Sport and CDX models had it as standard and SR1 had lowered suspension, a close ratio gearbox and a chromed tailpipe. From 2001 Comfort and Elegance specification replaced the old CD and CDX. The mark five had electric front windows, remote locking and electronic power steering. For the Club, alloy wheels, electric mirrors and air conditioning are part of the package. Design meant leather and electric rear windows. Elite has climate control, while the sporty specifications are the SXIs. Mark six Astras brought cruise control and remote audio controls for the Exckusiv; the S has air conditioning, electric front windows, remote locking and a CD player/MP3 socket. SE means rear electric windows, automatic lights and wipers. Above that, Elite has climate control and heated electric leather seats. Sportiness is delivered by the SRi, which adds alloy wheels, an electronic parking brake and sports suspension.
- 1998 Vauxhall Astra mark four available with a range of engines including 16v Econetic and 8v units. The mark four was available in both standard hatchback and coupe body types.
- 2004 mark five as a five-door hatchback, with a five-door estate and three-door hatchback added to the line-up later in the year. There was also a convertible.
- 2010 the revised mark six Astra launched as a five-door hatchback, followed by a Sports Tourer Estate
What should I look for on a used Astra?
Astras are fleet cars that can run up huge mileages and are also subjected to all kinds of mechanical abuse, which is why buyers need to be cautious.
It is vital to check the service records and find out when the cambelt was last changed. This should be carried out every 40,000 miles, and some owners/companies don't worry about doing this if they can get away with it before selling.
There have been electrical issues on the more complex Astras, which have included faulty emission control sensors, seatbelt warning lights and other dashboard lights.
Listen for rough diesel engine noises that could indicate that the oil level has been allowed to drop too low. Rough running would also indicate that the particulate filters are blocked, especially if the diesel is only used on short commuter runs.
Astras can suffer from a difficult gearchange. Often this can be traced to a failing clutch, which you will be able to spot on the test drive.
With a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty, there is only one worry: accident damage. Start at the front and look along the sides of the car. Are any panels wobbly? Are they misaligned? Do the same from each corner of the car front and rear. If the car does not look straight it has been poorly repaired. Stone chips at the front? Normal if the car has racked up a 70,000+ mileage, but has it? Still standing back compare paint matches between panels. If they are different shades then once again this could be an accident repaired car?
What's the marketplace like for the Astra?
There is a constant demand for a reliable and practical hatchback that isn't overpriced like a Golf, hence the enduring appeal of the Astra. There are loads around and buyers can take their time, most though will go for the diesels. Mid to low specification is how most are bought for company fleets, so high spec examples can be good value as they are not overpriced.
Which Astra should I buy?
Buyers have plenty of Astras to choose from. The estate has always been well-proportioned and extremely practical, one of the best small load luggers you can buy. There is the sporty SRi and even a coupe. For premium pose-ability there is the convertible. Not everyone finds it pretty but the looks are purposeful and at least it will seat four in some comfort. And finally there's the saloon. Oh dear. Look in the dictionary and Astra saloon is likely to be an alternative definition for boring. Not listed in the UK for a while, they can be cheap and great value especially if private owned and looked after. At least it had a big boot and the best bit is that they will be cheaper than the equivalent hatchback. Everyone wants the diesels, but if the mileage isn't high then a contemporary 1.4i (2004 on) is a good compromise. Special editions are not worth more than the standard model, so don't pay any premium.
Where do I shop for Astras?
There are always large numbers of Astras in circulation. The latest Astra can now be found at supermarket car sales sites at very low prices. Many have come direct from company fleets and are well maintained and may still have the balance of the manufacturer's warranty. These will be excellent buys. The more expensive option is to visit your local Vauxhall dealer although the Astras will be covered by their excellent Network Q used car scheme. Older Astras can easily be located in classified ads and independent dealer forecourts.
Although a favourite with the fleets, the Astra also has a large private following. A well looked after Astra with a low mileage and covers on the seats is likely to be just about run in. There won't be any stone chip shrapnel or odd interior stains, just a superbly looked after car. Don't drop your guard though, if there are several previous owners chances are it is an ex-company vehicle and, whatever the price, it is vital to check the history for the true mileage.
The Astra in a nutshell?
Wide choice. Very cheap to run. Latest Astra is refined and spacious. Against? Lots of abused examples around. Dull styling. Early Astra not that nice to drive.
Any alternatives to the Astra?
As good to own, drive and live with as an Astra, but with lots more style. Does not look weird anymore, just purposeful and practical. Certainly the range is not as broad and the old diesels are less satisfactory, but running costs are just as containable. It is also the brighter prospect at resale time.
Never comes across as tough as the Astra and there have been more reliability issues over the years. The diesels are great and the right specification. Spacious, relatively stylish and nice to drive.
Here is the blue chip hatchback and also the benchmark for this class. That upmarket image makes the Golf pricey to buy and you don't always get a lot for your money.They are comfortable, reliable and a doddle to resell. No one ever made a wrong decision when buying a Golf.
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
A significant horsepower boost and some restyling brings the Aston Rapide on leaps and bounds
Date 4 hrs ago, Duration 2:30, Views 59