For a man who grew up with powerful front-wheel-drive cars – the steering wheel writhing through my hands due to savage torque steer – the Vauxhall’s lack of drama is almost a disappointment, as a 200bhp front-driver rarely feels this cultured.
It really goes when you want it to though, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for speed cameras and excitable gendarmes, as you will invariably be travelling faster than you imagine. The Astra completea the 0-60mph dash in 7.2 seconds, running out of puff at a respectable 146 mph.
Despite similar external measurements to the previous Astra, the interior dimensions of this new seventh-generation model are bigger than before, combined with a weight saving of up to 190kg lighter than the previous Astra.
Vauxhall claims that this lighter construction helps to improve the new Astra’s handling, agility and comfort, and these attributes shone through both on the smooth Swiss motorways and poorly surfaced snow-strewn A and D roads in France and the Benelux, making the many miles pass by with little drama, surprise or discomfort.