Road Test: Vauxhall Astra SRi Nav 1.6 CDTi EcoFlex
The eco-Astra asks little for its effortless fuel economy, explains Alex Grant.
SECTOR: Lower Medium PRICE: £21,415 FUEL: 83.1mpg CO2: 91g/km
As new car launches go, Vauxhall’s latest Astra has to be one of the big surprises in recent years. Leaner, technology-rich and fiercely competitive, it’s gone from worthy but ordinary to one of the best cars in its segment. And, if you’re seeking the best possible fuel efficiency, the most economical versions ask for no driver compromise.
Vauxhall offers the Ecoflex version of the 109bhp 1.6 diesel engine across the trim line-up, but it’s only the Design and Tech Line models which get the lowest 88g/km CO2 emissions and 85.3mpg fuel economy that come with it. Sporty SRi and luxury-focused Elite models come in at 81mpg and 91g/km CO2 – though hardly a deal-breaker.
For all the doom-mongering about diesels, this is a reminder that a good oil-burner is still an absolute business asset. The Astra is effortlessly fuel-efficient, returning motorway fuel economy of 75mpg with gentle throttle inputs and a close watch on speed – getting less than 65mpg would take a very heavy right foot. It’s also near-petrol quiet, particularly while cruising.
It does so without shouting about being an eco special. There are no closed grilles or turbine-style wheels to give the game away, and no loss of equipment compared to the standard SRi Nav. It’s a combination of ultra-modern diesel engine and good old fashioned weight saving, bolstered with low rolling resistance tyres and a start/stop system on the Ecoflex versions.
Fuel efficiency is only one of its talents, though. Vauxhall optimised the cabin space to get as much room for passengers as possible, even in the back, the boot floor is large and its volume is generous. The SRi’s large wheels don’t wreck the ride quality, and both front and rear seats are supportive on long journeys.
Every Astra includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the excellent OnStar system – live advisors, tracking and telematics data ideal for fleets – is standard equipment on SRi and Elite. Granted, it’s not up to the high standard of materials and design of, say, a Golf, but the Astra is hard to pick holes with from a design, practicality or technology point of view.
But most of that also applies to the £500 cheaper non-Ecoflex version. All of the hard work Vauxhall put into making every Astra as light, aerodynamic and spacious as possible means even the basic SRi Nav with the same engine still emits 97g/km CO2 and returns 76.3mpg. Factor in a surprisingly frugal 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine as an alternative, and this core fleet nameplate remains a brilliant choice for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
What we think:
Quietly one of the best cars in its class, the Astra works just as well as a business tool as it does as a user-chooser option. If it’s been a while since your last, then it’s time for a fresh look.
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