At first glance, the Astravan might look identical to the Astra estate, but in actual fact it only uses the Astra chassis as its starting point. Some serious re-engineering has gone into producing the Astravan, which sports a totally redesigned rear axle that allows the fuel tank to be repositioned. This change gives drivers a lot of additional loadspace supported by a completely flat floor. The rear tailgate door also opens high and allows cargo of up to 25mm higher than before to be fitted into the loadspace.
The 2006 Astravan boasts an extended wheelbase, allowing for a larger load-carrying space as well as a slightly enlarged cabin. The handling and ride of the Astravan also benefit from this. The rear torsion beam has also been re-engineered to ensure that the Astravan can handle heavier loads than the Astra would be able to, dealing with payloads of up to 650kg. It’s also possible to tow a braked trailer weighing up to 1.4t with the Astravan, but bear in mind that the rear tailgate hatch is the only way to load or unload cargo into and out of the vehicle itself - there’s no sliding side door to help you.
The Astravan isn’t a Ford Transit, but it still offers a sizeable loadspace, bearing in mind its modified Astra car chassis. The Astravan provides 1.6m3 of load-carrying volume, with a maximum load length of 1,825mm and total load height of 900mm. Maximum payloads can be as high as 650kg. The cargo area offers six load-lashing eyes to secure loads and a half-height bulkhead as standard to prevent objects from straying. A full-height mesh screen is available as an optional extra.
None of this is outstanding, but the Astravan does offer convenience with its low floor relative to the ground, allowing for improved and easier access to the loading area - an attribute further enhanced by the high-lifting tailgate rear door. The tailgate opens to a maximum of 776mm, and with 1103mm of load width, you’ll have no problem fitting a standard Euro pallet in the back.
The Astra estate is well known for its strong driving capacity, and this continues with the Astravan. The lowest-powered engine gives you 90PS from a 1.3l CDTi diesel engine. The next step up is an upgraded 1.7l CDTi engine, based on that which featured in earlier models of the Astravan, which provides 110PS. The top-tier trim grade, the Astravan SE Sportive, features a 1.9l CDTi producing a stunning 150PS.
All three engines use diesel common rail technology and contain Euro 4 particulate filters to cut emissions further. Buyers may also be able to find the petrol variant of the Astravan, although this is less common. The petrol engine uses its 1.4l capacity to produce 90PS.
Safety is a priority for Vauxhall, and the Astravan received a five-star crash rating from the EURO NCAP regulatory body. Standard features include ABS, EBD, Brake Assist and driver and passenger airbags, which is unusual as a standard feature for a van. Optional extras include a flat-tyre detector for added convenience. Security needn’t be a worry thanks to the remote-controlled central deadlocking, and a sophisticated alarm system is available for an extra fee.
The Heritage of the Astravan
The van first appeared in 1981, taking the baton from the infamous Chevanne. This was replaced in 1985, and Vauxhall added the higher-volume Astramax to the line-up. 1992 saw the next incarnation of the Astravan, which was replaced in 1998, with the current model rolling out in 2006. The Astravan ceased production in 2012-13, and in the minds of many buyers has left a void in the market that no other estate-van has been able to fill.