How practical is the space inside?
Once on board, the Astra is a surprisingly roomy hatchback with generous rear-seat proportions despite that sloped roof, even for taller occupants. Headroom is excellent and the deeply sculpted front seat backs allow for plenty of knee room in the rear as well.
The front seats are firm, supportive and comfortable, and are mounted low in the car for plenty of headroom.
Built in Germany by fellow GM (General Motors) company Opel, the Astra is a strange mix of old-school and new-school car making. There's no electronic hand brake, for example; instead it relies on an old-fashioned lever, which takes up valuable space in the centre console.
The low-pressure turbocharger gives the car genuine low-range acceleration, especially in middling gears. This makes it a cinch to drive around town.
Some of the switchgear is also a bit suspect in its movement and feels quite cheap and plastic-ish underhand; particularly the flimsy indicator column and the action of some of the buttons.
The surface of the dash is a hard, scratchy plastic, which does bring down the tone a little. Lifting it again, though, are items like the touchscreen multimedia infotainment system, which is simple to use, while the dashboard is also clear and legible.
There's a small black and white screen in the centre of the instrument cluster that adds functionality, including a very cool distance meter, which tells you the distance to the preceding car in seconds. We should all be driving at least one second behind the car in front, but it's quite surprising how far that distance actually is in real life.
It's not the most practical interior in the class, however. Two cup holders lie between the front seats, but there's no real pocket or storage compartment to add phones, wallets, keys, and the like. There's an odd vertical slot right in the centre dash that a smaller phone could possibly sit in, but it's not even vaguely convenient, or iPhone Plus-ready. The USB port is also hidden in the small centre console box.
There is storage in all four doors, as well as large bottle holders. Rear-seaters get no charger or vents, but the sculpted door pockets and door cards do give a nice place to rest arms. A pair of ISOFIX baby seat mounts are present and correct.
The rear cargo area has 370 litres of listed space. The seats fold virtually flat, but the raked roofline does limit awkward loads from being carried.