Review: Vauxhall Astravan (2006 – 2013)
Available with Vauxhall's strong 1.7 CDTi diesel with, good to drive with neat handling.
Interior can suffer with hard daily use.
Recently Added To This Review
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Vauxhall Astravan (2006 – 2013): At A Glance
- On average it achieves 86% of the official MPG figure
Taking a popular hatchback and creating a van version is not a new idea. This Astravan - based on the estate version of the Astra - is in fact the fifth generation model. The first Astravan appeared in 1981 and replaced the Chevette-based Chevanne.
This Astravan uses the same basic design as the Astra Estate, but the rear axle has been redesigned to allow the fuel tank to be moved. This allows for extra load space and a completely flat floor without harming the handling, while the rear torsion beam has been adapted to cater for carrying heavier loads.
Compared to the model it replaced, this Astravan has a longer wheelbase than the existing model, giving improvements to handling and ride, plus extra interior space both in the cabin and the load bay. The tailgate opens low and wide and loads of up to 24mm higher can be stowed in the back, while the overall payload has been increased to 650kg.
It comes with some strong engines. The top model uses the 1.9-litre CDTi with 150PS - badged the Astravan Sportive SE. An uprated 110PS version of the previous Astravan's 100PS 1.7-litre CDTi unit is also available, along with a 90PS version of the 1.3CDTi engine. All three diesel units are Euro 4 compliant, as is the one petrol addition to the range - a 90PS 1.4-litre engine.
The Astravan can also tow a braked trailer of up to 1400kg, but the rear hatch is the only access to the load space.
This doesn’t stop the Astravan appealing to a broad cross-section of users, many of them praising the Vauxhall for its fun, fine driver compared to more versatile competitors. It’s what’s kept the Astravan in the sales charts and hearts of van buyers in the UK.
Used Buying Guide - Vauxhall Astravan
The Vauxhall Astravan filled a niche in the commercial marketplace that’s been unoccupied since its demise in 2013. However, there are still lots of good examples on the market. We tell you what to look out for.
What does a Vauxhall Astravan (2006 – 2013) cost?
Vauxhall Astravan (2006 – 2013): What's It Like Inside?
If you’re an Astravan fan, and we know there are plenty of you out there, perhaps now is time to go and make a cup of tea. The reality is the Astravan simply isn’t the best when it comes to carrying lots of stuff. Its payload maximum is not in the same league as many of its rivals, such as Vauxhall’s very own Combo or the likes of the Citroen Berlingo or Renault Kangoo.
Bringing competitor vans such as these two French competitors into the equation also highlights another of the Astravan’s shortcomings due to age and design. Namely, the Astravan does not have a sliding side door to access the load area. In today’s world, this is just too much of a compromise for many users who don’t want to risk back ache reaching in the recesses of the Vauxhall to fetch what they need.
One upside of the Astravan’s more compact dimensions is it can be kept in a standard home garage. This makes it less likely you’ll need to unload every last tool from the vehicle at night and it keeps the exterior free from the harm of vandals who see vans’ sides as a canvas for their free expression with a spray can.
If outright practicality is not the Astravan’s forte, at least what is there is well thought out and useful. The rear tailgate is hinged at the top and swings up high to leave a large aperture into the load area. This tailgate also creates a handy shelter from the elements when reaching into the load bay or working out the back of the van.
A low load sill makes heaving in and out weighty items less of a strain on the back, while the load floor is flat and lined with plastic to make it easier to slide items in and out. There’s a half-height bulkhead as standard to stop loads sliding forwards into the cab, while six floor-mounted tie-down hooks help keep cargo securely in place.
Supportive front seats for the driver and passenger keep them snugly in place too, while the cab serves up plenty of room. As it’s closely related to the Astra it’s based on, it means there are some appealing trims and detailing not usually found in vans. There are also options such as heated seats and satellite navigation. Electric windows are standard, while the Sportive models have lumbar adjustment for their occupants to fine tune comfort on longer trips. Sportive models also boast air conditioning as part of their specification.
The dash is clearly laid out and the instruments easy to read, although the centre console is now looking dated with its profusion of small buttons for the radio. However, the ventilation controls are simple and there’s a CD player included. It’s just a shame there are not as many storage areas in the Astravan’s cabin as there are in most of its newer rivals’.
What's the Vauxhall Astravan (2006 – 2013) like to drive?
A much simplified engine range for the Astravan sees it offered with only two turbodiesel units, both 1.7-litre motors. There are 110PS and 125PS versions of this redoubtable Vauxhall unit and both give the Astravan a turn of pace not normally associated with light vans intended to deliver economy and low emissions more than any sense of enjoyment.
However, it’s the fun side of the Astravan, underscored by the way it performs and drives, that has made it the cult it is today. No wonder the wry line about ‘what’s the fastest car in the world? An Astravan’ holds more than a certain amount of truth. Both engines deliver plenty of low and mid-rev shove, offering 260Nm and 280Nm for the 110PS and 125PS units respectively.
Each engine also spreads its brawn generously across the rev band, with the less powerful motor having a wider plateau of peak pulling power to compensate for its lower power output. On the road, it means the 110PS Astravan feels barely any slower than its 125PS sister model.
The result of this wide power band and Vauxhall’s well thought through choice of ratios in the six-speed manual gearbox is that both Astravans are very peppy off the mark. You’re not likely to be left behind by any other commercial vehicle, nor most passenger cars, when driving an Astravan.
This impression is furthered by the way the Vauxhall van gets up to motorway speeds and stays there with ease. Drive with a little more caution and you should also easily achieve Vauxhall’s claimed combined economy figures of 56.5mpg unladen for the 110PS unit and 55.4mpg for the 125PS motor.
These figures drop slightly with the Sportive model, down to 54.3mpg for the two power outputs, due to the higher specification model’s larger 17-inch alloy wheels. For the same reason, the Sportive models provide 137g/km CO2 emissions compared to the Club model’s 132g/km for the 110PS engine and the 125PS unit’s 134g/km.
As well as the straightline performance, the Astravan more than acquits itself when it comes to dealing with town, motorway and rural roads. In town, the compact dimensions make it a cinch to slot through congested streets and to park. Head on to the motorway and the Astravan cruises with ease with far more refinement than most vans can dream of.
Then there’s the way the Astravan devours corners and country roads. Thanks to its Astra estate underpinnings, it rides well and soaks up bumps with ease, even in Sportive form, while corners are something to relish rather than dread, regardless of whether the van is loaded up or not.
Real MPG average for a Vauxhall Astravan (2006 – 2013)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their vehicles could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.