A 600-mile round-trip to Ireland over Christmas saw our long-term Astra confirm itself as an accomplished long-distance motorway cruiser.
Split into two 300-mile journeys four days apart, the hatchback was refined and comfortable, while its 136hp 1.6 CDTi engine provided enough power in all situations. Interior space was ample in both the front and the rear for passengers, while its 370-litre boot managed to swallow all the Christmas presents destined for my family.
The standard sports seats offered plenty of support meaning no aches at the end of the journeys, while the long trip also revealed a nice feature of the Astra’s media system. It was tuned to Radio 2 on DAB, but when it lost signal it automatically retuned to the same station on FM until the DAB signal strength increased, at which point it switched back for uninterrupted listening.
However, the Astra’s duties over Christmas also saw me wince quite a lot. Tech Line GT trim features sports styling, 18-inch alloy wheels and lowered suspension. This gives it a purposeful look, but a black plastic skirt under the front bumper can scrape on the ground when going up or down some ramps.
Not long after I took the keys to the Astra, I changed my parking spot at the office to avoid a reasonably steep incline. Over time I had forgotten about this, but the memories came flooding back when I was Christmas shopping and ended up on the 10th floor of a multi-storey car park.
Going up was fine, but on the way down I winced at the bottom of every ramp as the skirt grounded with an unpleasant grinding noise.