12.4.2011 Vauxhall Astra 1.3CDTi ecoFLEX review
Vauxhall's new Astra in ecoFLEX form is going to make some company car drivers happy with its low benefit-in-kind tax as a result of its low CO2 emissions. However, with a choice of trims and extras along with low fuel consumption, the Astra will please private motorists too.
Automatic stop-start to reduce consumption and emissions in traffic is £345 extra and cuts CO2 output to 104g/km. The Astra is handsome without being over fancy and the interior is a stylish cut above the average too. It handles sportily enough to keep you interested.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
A relatively large car and a small, 1248cc, engine means acceleration is going to be leisurely and at times frustrating when there are gaps in the traffic you simply can't take advantage of. Maximum torque from the turbocharged diesel is only 140 lbs ft from 1750rpm leading to a 0-60mph of about 13.8 seconds and quite a lot of growly noise getting there. Maximum power of 94bhp arrives at 4,000rpm. Motorway cruising is more pleasant than town driving. Top speed is 109mph.
No surprises here. It's sensible transport and handles sensibly but without feeling stodgy. The Astra corners tidily with no nasty surprises – if you 'push' it too hard in a bend, it may response with under steer but that's easily cured by easing off the power. Plenty of cornering grip, but test car was on bigger 17in alloy wheels than the Astra's standard 16in wheels. More drivers will be impressed by the supple ride which isn't so soft it causes car sickness. Cruising at 40mph is just 1,600 rpm in fourth gear, while 70mph is 2,200rpm in fifth gear.
Vauxhall's styling of the Astra has made it look sportier and more dynamic over the last few models – this latest incarnation really is spot on. It has almost got the looks of a swish coupe. To help reduce fuel consumption and improve the car's aerodynamics, a flap below the lower front grille opens at low speeds for better engine cooling and then closes when going quicker to smooth the airflow over the front of the car. Boot space is good – 351 litres with the rear seats in use, 1216 litres with them folded. Length 4419mm, width 1814mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
We found the seats comfortable and supportive with a good range of adjustment for both tall and shorter drivers. Though most of the controls you use frequently are on the steering column stalks, or the steering wheel itself, it still takes some time to learn the functions and locations of buttons on the centre console. Sat nav is however easy to use.
The feeling of solidity when you close the doors and the interior trim quality makes for a pleasant time in the Astra. However, there was a significant amount of noise from the tyres on rougher road surfaces.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
According to official fuel test figures the Astra is capable of 57.6mpg on the urban cycle, 76.3mpg on extra urban and 68.9mpg on the combined cycle. This translates into a fuel cost of around 9.1p per mile. Carbon dioxide emissions of 109g/km put the Vauxhall Astra ecoFLEX 1.3CDTi in band B and mean that annual road tax is just £20 and first year tax is free. Optional stop start drops CO2 to 104g/km. Insurance is group nine. Service intervals are every 20,000 miles. Warranty is for 100,000 miles.
Vauxhall has re-mapped the engine management system to give it a bias towards saving fuel and reducing CO2 emissions. Operating at up to 1,800 bar, the common rail fuel system enables five injection pulses per cycle to extract as much energy as possible from the fuel. Without stop-start, CO2 emissions of 109g/km put this model in band B (annual car tax £20; first year tax is free) – with stop-star, the CO2 are cut by 5 points to 104g/km.
The engine meets the latest Euro 5 emission standards and is fitted with the diesel particulate filter to trap sooty particles. The exhaust gas recirculation system, controlled by the engine management computer, ensures exhaust gases are at the correct temperature for combustion on return to the cylinder. This increases power and reduces emissions. The combination of these efficiency optimising features returns a Green Car Rating of 31.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning, CD player with MP3 format and stereo radio, driver's seat height adjustment, rake and reach adjustable steering column, electrically operated front windows and door mirrors, remote control central deadlocking, 60/40 split folding rear seat back and steering wheel audio controls. The Astra's cabin is plush in Exclusiv trim and the price of the test car was bumped up from £18,385 to £19,495 by the addition of satellite navigation (£835), alloy wheels (£310), digital stereo radio (£155) and Bluetooth mobile phone system (£215).
Model tested: Vauxhall Astra 1.3CDTi ecoFLEX Exclusiv
Body-style: Compact family hatchback
Engine/CO2: 94bhp 1248cc turbo diesel / 109 gCO2/km
Trim grades: SRi,Expression,ES,ES Tech,Exclusiv,SE,Elite
On-road price:From £17,665. Model tested £19,495
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 4.0 STARS
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