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Since its arrival on the market in 1979 the Vauxhall Astra has been a consistent favourite of the small family hatchbacks, replacing the Viva and certain models of the Chevette. The Astra is at the forefront of the favourites of the class, alongside the likes of the Ford Focus and VW Golf, with the latest seventh generation model beating the pack to be crowned winner of the 2016 Compact Family Car of the Year at the Auto Express New Car Awards. Previous generations have also yielded strong sales success and popularity, with the 2009 sixth generation being named the car in the highly acclaimed Top Gear eStar in a Reasonably-Priced Care in 2013.

The current generation of Astra, launched in 2015 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, is arguably a cut above the rest of the competition. Though only available in a five-door hatchback and Sports Tourer estate, the new trim levels and impressive engine options offer a much more refined driving experience and enhanced build quality. At the lower end of the spectrum there are the 104bhp 1.0-litre 3 cylinder turbo and 99bhp 1.4-litre petrol engines, while the 197bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine gives the most powerful performance available in the higher Elite and SRi trims. The Astra performs particularly well on UK roads thanks to being built here, with good grip, light steering and low road noise making it a popular choice.

The Astra is a well-proportioned vehicle, with good rear passenger space making it a good family choice. The current generation has a slightly smaller exterior than its predecessors, but the cleverly designed interior has maximised space to actually give a larger cabin space. Always well-equipped and with a premium feeling finish, the Astra has generous technology and safety features fitted as standard, and has been awarded the maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. The option to fit the award-winning OnStar connectivity system in the higher specification models and excellent Apple and Android systems for smartphone connection ensures that the Astra has the capacity to provide top-notch passenger amenities.

With a wide range of great engines and trim options, the Astra is a superb and reasonably priced all-round performer, making it a great choice for a small family car.

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