Road Test: Vauxhall Astra 1.7 CDTi ecoFLEX Exclusiv
Sector: Lower medium Price: £20,725 Fuel: 76.3mpg CO2: 99g/km
It’s an unusual compliment to give a car, but one of the best things about Vauxhall’s new 99g/km eco-Astra is how unremarkable it is. By no means a bad thing, though. This looks, sounds and performs like a ‘normal’ Astra – it’s only its tiny thirst for fuel that gives the game away.
At 99g/km this is the most efficient model to date, emitting less CO2 than the 1.3-litre CDTi engine and both of the less powerful 1.7-litre versions. It does so while offering 129bhp and whisper-quiet cruising, plus it’s available in Exclusiv, SE and even SRi trim levels where even the larger wheels on the SRi don’t hurt its 76.3mpg fuel economy. What Vauxhall has here is a car for the efficiency-conscious driver who doesn’t mind if other motorists don’t notice.
The familiar 1.7 CDTi has had some fairly substantial changes to bring it under the 100g/km mark. These include new engine management, a new turbo, a reduced compression ratio and new fuel injection and ignition systems optimised to give the most efficient combustion. All the internals of the engine and bespoke gearbox are also low friction, which sheds those all-essential parts of a gram of CO2.
Other additions include a switchable oil cooler bypass, which brings the engine up to temperature faster, and a grille with slats that shut at high speeds to improve aerodynamics. A 12mm drop in ride height helps both reduce drag and improve the Astra’s already agile handling, and the alternator and air conditioning shut off when not needed to reduce load on the engine. Stop/start is also included as standard – now a familiar part of modern motoring.
But you’re blissfully unaware of most of this when behind the wheel. It’s still a great car to look at and drive, and efficiency in the high 50s to the gallon is easy to reach. Use the intuitive dashboard display to keep throttle inputs and speed down and it should hit the 60s. For the extra £1,000 over the 119g/km 123bhp version, the tax savings alone will make this a real no-brainer.
Vauxhall has very effectively brought the Astra under 100g/km with absolutely zero sacrifice of performance, style or refinement. But double-digit CO2 emissions are becoming more common in the C-segment, and this isn’t the lowest in class. Bringing a less powerful engine closer to 90g/km would make for a great halo model.