Why Top Gear’s New ‘Reasonably Priced’ Car Is Way Off The Mark

A £17,000 Astra is now deemed "reasonably priced"? What was Top Gear thinking?
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If you were watching Top Gear on Sunday night, it won’t have escaped your notice that the new definition of ‘reasonably priced’ is a £17,000 Vauxhall Astra.

Now some of us will recall that Top Gear’s very first reasonably-priced car – the eminently reasonable Suzuki Liana – weighed in at a truly reasonable £9995. With 103bhp on tap from its 1.5-litre engine, the Liana honestly defined value-for-money. While special F1 guests are required to still use the Liana, its most famous moment came courtesy of Sir Michael Gambon and that corner

Video 1

After three years, eight series and an Ellen MacArthur lap time of 1:46.7, the Suzuki was retired and replaced with yet more far Eastern reasonableness, in the form of the Chevrolet-badged Lacetti. Packing an extra punch over its predecessor, the 120hp 1.8 litre CDX Lacetti needed a new leaderboard to account for the extra pace.

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Also priced around £10,000, the Lacetti survived four years and six seasons before meeting an untimely end underneath some collapsing cement works chimneys – but not before hosting petrolhead Jay Leno for a hoon:

Video 2

Coming in at £14,000, the Kia Cee’d that replaced the Lacetti may have seemed opulent at the time. Nevertheless, it was still 123hp and 105lbft of reasonable and Tom Cruise used it to good effect, out-Gamboning Gambon:

Video 3

Ironically, the switch to the Astra has come after Kia’s shift of focus to compete with the establishment, allowing the timewarped Luton outfit the chance to shine with its lifetime warranty – which we suspect will be well-thumbed by the end of the season.

But £17,000 is far from the originally reasonable sum of money – so what else could TG have bought for the Stig’s day job?

1. Renaultsport Twingo


Okay, so previous TG “SIARPC” models have been five-door, five-seat affairs from the farthest reaches of the East, but who can say no to a perky warm hatch like the Twingo? Fourteen grand of reasonableness and a boatload of performance – even with Ross Kemp in the boot – would have made this a hoot for the Power Laps.

2. Ford Fiesta


It would have been a great way to tail off the this Sunday show’s hot hatch piece – revealing a younger sibling as the new celebrity wagon. There’s a whole host of engine and gearbox options that undercut the Astra’s ludicrous price – even an automatic for the Americans and occasional Doctor Who. Even the 100hp Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost comes in at the same price as the outgoing Cee’d.

3. Hyundai i20


Not the most popular manufacturer recently, so Hyundai could do with a reputation boost. The i20 fits all the criteria for a SIARPC – with even the range-topping, 100hp 1.4 “Active” not troubling the wallet for more than £15k.

4. Dacia Sandero


Good news! Even fully specced, Top Gear’s favourite Romanian car – the Dacia Sandero – barely breaks into £10k territory. The 90hp 1.5 dCi unit might not be the last word in performance, but as far as reasonable goes it’s just about impossible to do better.

Which car would you liked to have seen as Top Gear’s reasonably priced car?

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  • Tom

    Should of been the Dacia. What is the world coming to if Jezza is endorsing Astras?!

  • Graham King

    In the world of a £20k mid-range Focus, a £17k Astra is very reasonable. TG clearly wanted a car that would do similar lap-times to the Cee’d and that was available with an auto ‘box for the Yanks. I was actually expecting an Auris.

    • Antony Ingram

      I disagree. A £20k Focus doesn’t make a £17k Astra look very reasonable, it makes them both look ridiculously expensive.

      Each range has a token £14k model to look good on price lists but I’d not touch a base Astra or Focus with someone else’s. £17k gets you a whole lot more Kia, Hyundai, Honda, Mazda, Skoda or several other vehicles these days than it does the more traditional mainstream brands, which seem to be rivaling VW these days for curiously inflated pricing.

      The auto thing I can understand, and it does narrow down the choice a little. But whichever way you spin it, a £17k Astra isn’t a reasonably priced car.

  • Niky Tamayo

    Dacia. Definitely. To hell with guests who can’t drive stick, they can complete the lap in first gear.


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