Long-term report: Vauxhall Astra Electric – my first taste of living with an EV

The Vauxhall Astra is a favourite among Brits, but what’s the electric version like? James Batchelor will be finding out over the next six months.

The new Vauxhall Astra Electric is here
Vauxhall Astra Electric The new Vauxhall Astra Electric is here

It’ll come as little surprise to you to learn that I drive many electric cars for my job. I have to as it feels like every week there is another one to review that aims to do something different from the one launched last week. They arrive, I drive them, I charge them, I play with the associated smartphone app, I charge them up again, and then they return to the car manufacturer. This is all fine but I have never really lived with one.

That’s going to change because, for the next six months, I will be driving a Vauxhall Astra – not, as you might assume, a petrol one, but the new fully electric version. That’s why I wanted to give the Astra Electric a go because, for me, this is the interesting thing about the car market right now.

Intricate wheels are standard on the Astra
Intricate wheels are standard on the Astra

The Vauxhall Astra has been part of the British car scene since 1980. While it’s no longer built in the northeast anymore, enough of them have been sold over the past 44 years for it to feel like part of the furniture. Like the Fiesta, Golf or even more recently Qashqai, the Astra is one of those car names that everyone knows.

But now you can buy this household name as an EV. Apart from the green stripe on the number plate that denotes its power source, it looks exactly the same as the petrol. No wacky looks, no shouting about its eco-credentials. It’s just an Astra that comes with a plug.

The interior of the Astra has lots of features to explore
The interior of the Astra has lots of features to explore

With the Astra now coming with electric power, does this mean EVs are becoming mainstream? That’s what I want to find out in my half-year living with one.

The car I’ll be running is a top-drawer one in ‘Ultimate’ spec. Called that, it sets the expectations pretty high doesn’t it, but it does have the type of kit list that would have been unheard of in an Astra even a few years ago – things like semi-automated lane change assist, adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, Matrix LED pixel headlights (the ones that don’t dazzle oncoming cars when you’ve got your beams on), and I think this car even has ChatGPT integrated. Oh, and the front seats have been approved by the German AGR – it’s a campaign for healthy backs.

There’s not much that shouts about the Astra’s electric powertrain
There’s not much that shouts about the Astra’s electric powertrain

The only option chosen is the rather fetching Cobalt Blue tri-coat metallic paint at £700, which, so far at least, I think is a colour worth choosing. But then we come on to the price – £43,960. That’s rather a lot isn’t it, but I’ll give you a more definitive answer over the next few months.

What’s the range then? Vauxhall claims 258 miles and 4.2 miles per kWh (that’s the electric version of a petrol car’s MPG), and having driven an Astra Electric for a couple of days in the past I know those figures aren’t unachievable as in some other EVs. It’ll be interesting to see if over a longer period of time, Vauxhall’s claims are realistic.

I’m looking forward to the next six months.

  • Model: Vauxhall Astra Electric Ultimate
  • Price as tested: £43,960
  • Engine: Electric motor with 54kW battery
  • Power: 154bhp
  • Torque: 270Nm
  • 0-60mph: 9.0 seconds
  • Top speed: 105mph
  • Range: 258 miles (claimed)
  • Emissions: 0g/km CO2
  • Mileage: 2,060