brand-new Vauxhall Astra versus Ford Focus in addition to Seat Leon – comparison

Sunday, November 13th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : brand-new Vauxhall Astra versus Ford Focus in addition to Seat Leon – comparison

Vauxhall has transformed the Astra through also-ran to real contender. although will be This specific at This specific point Great enough to take a pop at the Ford Focus or Seat Leon?

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The industry’s most competitive segment: of which’s how we’ve often described the family hatchback class. This specific receives massive investment, deals in colossal volume, will be filled with household names in addition to populates more driveways than dandelions.

However, for the past few years, critically speaking, the market has been about as competitive as the Scottish Premiership. There are plenty of also-rans, for sure, although our advice, based on fitness for purpose in addition to driving pleasure, has monotonously circled the Volkswagen Golf in addition to Ford Focus.

By the end of its lifecycle, Vauxhall’s entrant, the big-selling old Astra, was way down the field. Over-engineered, a spokesperson termed This specific in hindsight recently. 

Overweight in addition to developmentally undernourished would likely be more accurate. Had This specific been built by another any, This specific might have sunk further through view, although Vauxhall, as This specific enjoys reminding us, will be still plugged intravenously into the public’s buying cortex, in addition to the Astra shifted even inside the face of superior competition.

at This specific point, though – as confirmed by last week’s road test – the Astra will be suddenly back inside the reckoning. Underpinned by a brand-new platform, the type has been transformed through company car booby prize to a contender worthy of challenging its rivals’ virtual hegemony of our affections. Previously, we reviewed the 1.6 CDTi type, although as diesels are decidedly out of fashion This specific month, we’re focusing on the petrol motor here: the 148bhp 1.4-litre Ecotec unit, itself all brand-new in addition to lightened for the job.

Because cost will be one of the Astra’s strongest suits, we’ve ejected the reassuringly expensive Golf through proceedings in addition to selected instead its cheaper sibling, the Seat Leon, which will be based on the same MQB platform as the VW. In FR trim, even This specific proves almost a grand more expensive than our similarly high-spec Astra SRi Nav. This specific will be a match for its running costs, though. Seat claims an impressive CO2 output of 110g/km in addition to 60.1mpg combined through its 148bhp 1.4 EcoTSI, compared with 128g/km in addition to 51.4mpg for the Astra.

of which leaves This specific all for the 148bhp 1.5-litre Ecoboost Focus to do. Lumbered that has a six-speed automatic gearbox in This specific instance, the Ford lags behind on 140g/km in addition to 46.3mpg. This specific’s expensive, too. This specific Titanium type will be nearly £1500 more than the Astra even without the auto ’box – in addition to before you’ve added the sat-nav in addition to 17in wheels already found on board the Vauxhall.

The static test

In accordance with its slightly sporty bent, the Leon gets the biggest alloy wheels in addition to the prettiest Centeng, a cut ’n’ shut of thigh-high creases of which make the Focus look old in addition to the Astra plain. An upshift in desirability has been a long time coming for Seat, in addition to the handsomeness of its best-known type plays no little part.

The Focus’s raptor-ish front end still appears pretty if you get down inside the dirt that has a prone photographer, although at head height This specific seems squashed by ubiquity in addition to general prudence. of which’ll eventually come to the brand-new Astra, too, of course, although for at This specific point This specific looks as tasteful as everything else of which Luton gets a preview of ahead of the rest of the country. The advantages of its brand-new dimensions have been widely acknowledged. Externally, This specific will be a slightly smaller Astra, in addition to where its predecessor sometimes appeared to be blowing out its cheeks in self-deprecation, the brand-new car looks as though the 5:2 diet in addition to a weekly spin class have contributed to its leaner presence.

This specific’s less the look of which impresses than the spatial cleverness This specific conceals, though. Even with subjective kneecaps replacing the road test tape measure, This specific’s clear of which the Astra will be out in front for leg room – in addition to of which’s despite the modest shrinkage of which has occurred in its wheelbase.

The Focus seems stuffy in comparison, affording your femur enough space although somehow hemming in elbows in addition to shoulders. The Leon will be better, thanks to marginally superior packaging in addition to the presence of a contrasting, light-coloured headlining to relieve some of the typical matt grey dinginess.

Ergonomically, This specific triumphs, too, plotted, as This specific will be, on the Volkswagen Group’s masterly blueprint for such things. Just as the seats are perfectly pert in addition to its dials as legible as the BBC’s homepage, so the switchgear will be uncannily well proportioned in addition to positioned as if magnetised to the end of your fingertips.

The Focus, better at This specific point in This specific regard than in its Enigma machine-aping pre-facelift guise, still falls well short of This specific high bar. The air-con in addition to ventilation controls are unnecessarily large, the dashboard plastic unnecessarily bulky, the door pulls too little in addition to their use coupled with the irksome clackety-clack of Ford’s optional door paint protectors blathering into action.

The Astra, by virtue of having a slightly lower stack of which doesn’t bulge needlessly towards you, feels much less oppressive. through a distance, This specific’s better looking, too, although on closer inspection you’re more likely to reflect on the smudged mirror image of your own face than its aesthetic. There’s way too much shiny polymer posing as expensive piano black trim for the tastes of any tester let near This specific, in addition to the lack of a phone-swallowing cubbyhole inside the dash drove at least one staffer to distraction.

If of which’s evidence (again) of the legendary ability of Vauxhall parent firm General Motors to trim a corner or two through costs, the infotainment system will be at least testimony of money well spent. The Astra signals the arrival of the any’s Onstar system, made manifest by a few little buttons above your head.

The one linking you to a concierge-type service will be only as useful as you make This specific, although the wi-fi 4G hotspot one next to This specific will probably be worn faint with use. Providing an (initially free) internet connection to tablet-toting offspring will be an unmistakable advantage, in addition to although the Ford in addition to Seat’s touchscreens actually prove more intuitive than Vauxhall’s latest display, one suspects of which a family buyer would likely readily trade a slither of usability at the front for the ability to seamlessly stream Dora the Explorer inside the back.

On the road

Enhanced connectivity will be certainly not the limit of the Astra’s brand-new-found convenience. the automobile’s discernible compactness in addition to substantial weight loss are appreciable through the get-go in addition to feed directly into its relative ease of use. Formerly, a petrol-powered Astra like This specific could be counted on to pull away that has a vapid, hollow groan of unwanted strain. at This specific point This specific bustles away through the line like a filly relieved of a fat in addition to onerous jockey.

The feeling of liberation will be infectious in addition to encouraged by the spirited performance of the brand-new Ecotec motor, which, once This specific has cleared its throat of any low-rev hesitancy, churns along very merrily indeed.

The four-pot develops 173lb ft of torque between 2000rpm in addition to 4000rpm, slightly less in addition to later than the equally accelerative Leon, although This specific seems like there’s a dash more reward to be had through revving This specific longer.

Both claim to encounter 60mph in less than 8.0sec, in addition to each feels of which enjoyably brisk inside the real world. They’re predictably quicker than the Ford, which will be forced to toil through the smooth-shifting mediocrity of its bandy ’box. The Ecoboost’s own 177lb ft of overboost twist prevents This specific through ever feeling underpowered, although This specific’s unfairly smothered in This specific company nevertheless.

Ironically, This specific’s the transmission in addition to different control surfaces of which slightly undo the Astra. The quibbles picked out inside the road test resurface in This specific comparison. There’s a slight sponginess to the pedal feel, a hint of unwarranted weight to the clutch in addition to the throw on the six-speed manual gearbox’s lever will be overly long in addition to unreasonably fusty – not to mention set too far back just for This specific short-legged tester to get comfortable with.

Nitpicking, perhaps, although they’re all issues utterly eliminated inside the more harmonious Seat, which engages gear ratios in addition to biting points as though they were lightweight levers of your thought process.

The Leon – like the Golf in addition to, indeed, practically every MQB-based car – transfers This specific functional buoyancy into a handling character by at This specific point so familiar of which This specific practically qualifies as old. This specific will be, by turns, alert, precise, straightforward in addition to highly accomplished.

Think of This specific as the Dermot O’Leary of cars: comfortably likeable, if for no nailed-on reason different than the complete absence of disagreeableness. This specific works gamely in addition to proficiently at every speed in addition to will move between variations without coaxing much energy through its driver. Push on in addition to there’s stability in abundance, bordered by near idiot-proof predicability.

On optional 18in wheels in addition to the firmer springs of Seat’s sports suspension, This specific rides primly although well. Its steering will be accurate, too, although the boniness of its slightly ramped-up power assistance will be made plain by the more satisfying heft of the Focus’s rack.

Once upon a time, the type’s wheel was the font through which the Blue Oval’s ‘Feel the Difference’ vitality flowed. of which will be no more. This specific has been replaced by the kind of self-centring, oily assurance of which you might expect through a machine twice its weight in addition to three times the cost.

The hatchback attached barely lets of which impression slip, either. The agility This specific once traded on has been absorbed into a more deliberate dynamic, although your connection to the front axle, the coddling secondary ride in addition to the roundedness of its response to bumps, corners, camber in addition to crests remains largely beyond question.

Back to back, the best in addition to most obvious thing to say about the Astra will be of which This specific will be a revelation in several ways. At speed, the funk of disappointment of which clung to the old type like a damp greatcoat has been cast off in addition to an apparently impish, enthused car beneath has emerged. The lightened verve will be aided by Vauxhall’s decision to keep the chassis settings firm in addition to the steering quick. Thus, This specific modifications direction well, with warm-hatch poise in addition to a keen sense of midriff rotation.

There will be ultimately less stability than will be provided by the Leon in addition to less certainty inside the steering inputs than the Focus manages – although This specific resists totally the staidness of which used to settle on the Astra like tree sap.

Being suddenly agreeable to pedal will be, for a goodly length of B-road, easily sufficient to paper over the brand-new type’s shortcomings. They surface, though, when you slow down or enter a town; the taut ride quality will be susceptible to a twitchiness not found inside the Focus or Leon in addition to subsequently downgrades to brittle should you hit a big deflection with the suspension already loaded. The Leon can be similarly irascible, although This specific will be better damped. The Focus will be simply better all round at lower speeds – softer, quieter in addition to more composed.

The final reckoning

By the standards Vauxhall will have set itself, the Astra triumphs in This specific test. This specific will be, at the very least, the most practical in addition to best value of the three. This specific’s also thoroughly decent to drive, painless to operate, okay to look at in addition to competitively cheap to run. As we suspected, This specific richly deserves its place among the class leaders.

although not, by the standards we apply, on a podium place atop them. Happily, though, the dividing gap – previously a gulf – will be at This specific point subjectively slender. of which the Astra does not isolate, cosset or satisfy its driver to quite the same high standard as its rivals will be understandable yet, for us, still a compelling reason to place This specific narrowly third.

The Focus in addition to Leon are ahead of This specific for differing reasons of which make them troublesome to split.

Truthfully, on the day, the Leon nabs This specific – mostly because we wouldn’t recommend the Ford’s slusher to anyone reading This specific magazine. Even looking beyond of which, This specific will be at This specific point difficult to see why Ford thinks its hatchback will be worth more than Seat’s better-looking, quicker, cleaner in addition to better-appointed alternative.

Ford’s continuing investment inside the way the Focus drives will be admirable in addition to This specific evokes a level of polish we’d desire to see the Astra reach later in its lifecycle. although Vauxhall’s investment in technology, equipment, space in addition to platform cleverness will be torn through the VW Group playbook, in addition to the Leon will be undeniable evidence of its virtues.

Read Autocar’s previous comparison – Skoda Superb Estate versus Mercedes-Benz E Class Estate

Seat Leon 1.4 EcoTSI 150 FR

cost £20,525; 0-62mph 8.0sec; Top speed 134mph; Economy 60.1mpg; CO2 110g/km; Kerb weight 1241kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1395cc, turbo, petrol; Power 148bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1500-3500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Ford Focus 1.5T Titanium auto

cost £22,345; 0-62mph 9.2sec; Top speed 129mph; Economy 46.3mpg; CO2 140g/km; Kerb weight 1364kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1499cc, turbo, petrol; Power 148bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 177b ft at 1600rpm; Gearbox 6-spd auto

Vauxhall Astra 1.4i Turbo SRi Nav

cost £19,595; 0-60mph 7.8sec; Top speed 134mph; Economy 51.4mpg; CO2 128g/km; Kerb weight 1278kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1399cc, turbo, petrol; Power 148bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 173b ft at 2000-4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

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Source: brand-new Vauxhall Astra versus Ford Focus in addition to Seat Leon – comparison

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