Thanks to a hedonistic 3 years at university, most of my childhood is a greying blur of non-descript half-memories. A handful of moments stick out from the smudgy collage and these are the reference points that I now choose to refer to as my childhood. One abiding memory is that of being on a family holiday and witnessing my older brother projectile vomit fizzy drink in a similar style to that of a garden sprinkler. Another would be scoring a penalty against (Everton and Welsh Goalkeeping legend) Neville Southall at a charity event. However, the one that seems to permeate the confused fug of my brain most of all would be the time my dad’s company swapped his trusty Ford Sierra company car for a Vauxhall Astra.
The very fact that I have used the words Ford Sierra have already made it obvious that the time in question was more than a few years ago, but the images remain clear. All throughout my childhood I was brought up with Ford cars, Escorts, Sierras, there may have even been a Fiesta or two. One day something changed. When Dad came home from work, the trusty Ford badge was no longer evident. Something strange and alien was in its place. It was a Vauxhall Astra.
My first impressions were inevitably child-like; a stubborn refusal to accept that things change and to just get over it. When I was finally coaxed into the car by the promise of biscuits followed by more biscuits to come, things seemed a lot better. The Astra, from a child passenger’s point of view, was far more luxurious than its Ford counterpart. The seats were comfier, the interior was far more spacious and the new car smell was a deal breaker. I happily sat in the car and ate my biscuits in pure comfort.
As time went on, my family began to really take to the Vauxhall Astra. It had a growling 1.8 litre engine that kept my Dad happy, it provided an unbelievably smooth ride which kept my Mum happy and me?…I had my biscuits.
These days the Astra has evolved, but has maintained what made it so popular when it first appeared on these shores way back in 1981. It has been brought in line with everything the family hatchback should be; uber-safe, well performing, enough space to accommodate everyone and the style to make it stand out. Over the years Ford have floundered whilst trying to find a family car they were happy with, before settling on the Focus (which has enjoyed runaway success). Vauxhall on the other hand have not tried to deviate too much from the popular adage; “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This could be partially to blame for the Astra’s slight dip in market share over the past few years. After all, the general public do like a stylistic revolution every now and then. The Astra deserves to enjoy a revival nowadays though, having reached a pinnacle of performance, style and safety.
If you are in the market for a reliable and safe family car that pulls no punches in the style or performance categories, then I urge you to test drive the Astra before automatically shelling out on a Ford Focus.