THE estate market has changed dramatically over the years with what used to be a workhorse vehicle becoming much more appealing as a family saloon but with the advantage of a load-lugger as well.
Another thing that has changed is the name – you get very few estate models now.
I recently sampled a car that falls into that category – Vauxhall’s Astra Sports Tourer.
The Astra models have been growing in popularity and the estate can boost its appeal even more.
The Sports Tourer shares the same wheelbase as the hatch but maximum load length is increased by 28mm for 500 litres of space with seats up and extending to 1550 litres when the 60/40 rear seats are folded.
But improved interior practicality doesn’t stop there. Compared with the estate it replaces, the newcomer also has an additional 25 litres of storage space in the cabin, 50 per cent more than before.
Like its hatch sibling, the Sports Tourer also benefits from the option of Vauxhall’s award-winning Ergonomic Sports Seats, providing front occupants with best-in-class comfort.
There is also plenty of head, leg and elbow space for front and rear passengers
There is a choice of seven frugal, yet lively engines, with ultra-low emissions, four petrol and three diesel.
This is also one of the first Vauxhall models to get Start/Stop technology.
The range comprises four trim levels, ES, Exclusiv, SE and Sri, and standard equipment levels are high with the entry model’s spec including air conditioning, curtain airbags, electronic stability control and heated mirrors.
The test car was a top-of-the-range Sri 1.7CDTi ecoFLEX and the 123bhp engine was perfectly suited to it with plenty of pulling power through the six-speed manual gearbox.
Ride and handling for this size of car was good and with a top speed of 120mph it was pretty quiet at 70mph.
Economy figures are also good, returning 62.8mph combined, 70.6mpg extra urban and 52.3mpg urban.
Despite its load-lugging capabilities, the Sports Tourer is a fairly attractive model, inside and out, and prices won’t put buyers off, starting at £17,270 but rising to £22,785 for the test model.