Given how most motorists here are a supposedly pragmatic bunch, it’s ironic how the practical station wagon isn’t usually considered in car-buying decisions. This is especially true for many couples who, upon starting a family, immediately plan on swopping their saloon for a seven-seater MPV (multi-purpose vehicle). But an MPV isn’t really necessary if one only has two kids and just wants a bigger boot that can hold both your shopping and child-related accoutrements.
According to motoring industry veterans, estates aren’t attractive because they’re seen as vehicles that were once used by tradesmen, and their shape is similar to that of a hearse. Such outdated thinking, we think, only prevents buyers from enjoying the benefits of a car that offers plenty of practicality while still being as easy to drive as a five-door hatchback.
The Astra Sports Tourer gracing this page is one such example. Although it measures in at 4968mm (279mm longer than a five-door Astra hatch), it’s no wider and just 25mm taller than said smaller sibling. It isn’t much heavier, either, at 1393kg (just 20kg heftier than the Astra hatch).
That extra 279mm, however, pays dividends when it comes to trucking stuff around. While the Astra hatch can offer 370 litres with the rear seats up and 1235 litres with the seats folded, the Sports Tourer has a massive 500 litres that can be expanded to a total of 1550 litres.
Powering the Sports Tourer is the same 140bhp, 1.4-litre turbo engine found in the Astra hatch. While its power delivery is unhurried, the engine is very tractable. Chalk this one up to the wide powerband, where peak torque of 200Nm is available from 1850rpm to 4900rpm.
The 6-speed automatic, although smooth, has pretty long ratios that are more suited to highway cruising than zippy acceleration. Long-distance journeys up north will also be very comfortable for both the driver and front passenger thanks to the AGR-certified seats. AGR stands for Aktion Gesunder Rucken, a German association whose name means “Campaign For Healthier Backs”.
Like the Chevrolet Cruze Station Wagon, however, the Astra Sports Tourer falls short when it comes to rear seat accommodation. Even petite passengers (below 1.7m tall) complained about the lack of legroom and how their knees sometimes bumped against the front seats.
Look past that shortcoming, however, and you’ll find the Sports Tourer to be a very capable and convincing family car.
This article was first published in the October 2013 issue of Torque.
2013 Opel Astra Sports Tourer 1.4 (A)
ENGINE 1364cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 140bhp at 4900-6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 200Nm at 1850-4900rpm
GEARBOX 6-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 10.8 seconds
TOP SPEED 198km/h
CONSUMPTION 14.7km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 159g/km