When the Astra Hatch was announced, Vauxhall made great play of the fact that they could design a sleek, sexy looking car without too much emphasis on overall practicality, due in no small part to the fact that they could rely on their more practical cars like the Zafira for the more family-friendly duties. Therefore, when they announced an estate version of the Hatch in late 2004, many jumped to the conclusion that it would be something of a half measure. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, we should have seen this one coming. When Vauxhall announced the Vectra Estate, they used the stretched chassis of the Signum as a basis, this giving excellent load-lugging abilities and ample passenger room. They've adopted a similar tack with the Astra Estate, using a stretched version of the Astra Hatch chassis with another nine centimetres stitched into the car's wheelbase and longer rear overhangs to give a fairly spacious luggage compartment. Although rivals from Ford, Peugeot and Renault may be able to offer more in the way of total volume, the Vauxhall counters by dint of its sheer practicality.
Early in 2007, the Astra Estate range was slightly revised, with some minor cosmetic visual changes. The main differences however came under the bonnet. The 1.6 TWINPORT petrol engine was uprated from 105 to 115PS, while the 170PS 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit was replaced by a new 180PS 1.6-litre turbocharged powerplant.