The Sport Hatch is Vauxhall’s latest and most dynamic version of the Astra range, with prices set to start from £13,795.

As the Sport Hatch is expected to appeal to younger buyers, the range consists only of the sporty models from the Astra range; SXi, SRi and Design. Vauxhall will be contesting this year’s British Touring Car Championship with a VX Racing version of the Sport Hatch, and the road-going VXR will go on sale later this year.

The Astra Sport Hatch’s roofline is 32 mm lower than that of the five door Astra and almost every exterior panel is different. With low mounted sports seats it has a cabin to match the dynamic exterior styling, but practicality is still strong with a 302 litre boot and five-seat capacity.

Every Sport Hatch comes with the option of Vauxhall’s innovative Panoramic Windscreen – a 1.5 metre long sweep of glass to the middle of the roof, without the distraction of any bars or pillars. The experience is apparently like sitting in the cockpit of a fighter jet.

With all versions enjoying the benefits of a taut sports chassis the Sport Hatch is as good to drive as it is to look at. A range of standard and optional driving aids add reassurance – including ESPPlus stability control and Vauxhall’s Interactive Driving System, which includes features such as electronically controlled shock absorbers which the Astra was first to bring to this segment.

No fewer than four petrol and three diesel engines will be available in the Astra Sport Hatch from launch, all offering strong performance, low running costs and strong economy.

The 1.4i 16v (90PS) and 1.6i 16v (105PS) petrol engines both feature TWINPORT technology to improve fuel consumption and increase power. The 1.8i 16v engine offers 125PS, while a 2.0 turbo petrol motor with 170PS will also be available.

All three CDTi common-rail diesel engines pass the Euro IV emissions tests while also offering outstanding frugality. The 1.7 CDTi has 100PS and manages up to 65.7mpg, while two 1.9 versions provide serious performance – available in either 120 PS or 150PS states of tune.

The 2.0 T petrol and both 1.9 diesel engines benefit from a standard six-speed manual gearbox. “Easytronic” clutchless transmission is also available in conjunction with the 1.6 petrol engine, and a conventional auto is optional with the 1.8-litre unit.

All versions come with air conditioning and a CD player. Numerous other audio options are available, including state-of-the-art sat nav systems, a DAB digital radio and MP3 compatible disc readers.

The Sport Hatch shares the crash protection system that has already won a top five-star Euro NCAP rating for the five-door Astra. All models feature six airbags as standard and an impressively rigid bodyshell. Extensive testing has proved that cars fitted with the Panoramic Windscreen enjoy the same levels of safety and composure as those without.

Variable servicing intervals ensure the Sport Hatch spends only the minimum amount of time off the road. Depending on use, petrol models can go up to 20,000 miles or two years between services, while diesels can manage 30,000 miles or two years. Intelligent design of components ensures that repair costs are minimised for minor accidents to help keep insurance premiums low.

The range is priced from £13,795 to £18,145 – with the innovative Panoramic Windscreen optional on all models for an additional £850.