What is it?
As far as Vauxhall is concerned, this is where ‘eco Astra’ meets ‘value Astra’. Which is to say that this version of the firm’s bread-and-butter hatchback blends Ecoflex badging (CO2 emissions of 119g/km) and ES Tech trim level. That translates into sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio, air-con and 17in wheels as standard fit for £19,530.
If that sounds like a relatively conservative formula, it is. Which is to say that anyone who’s aware of the Astra’s strengths is unlikely to be disappointed here.
What’s it like?
The 1.7-litre diesel engine has enough twist for all but the most optimistic of overtaking manoeuvres, claimed fuel economy is well north of 60mpg and the cabin feels a generally well sorted, pleasant place.
This is an accomplished family hatch – and the ES Tech extras are welcome, thanks.
That said, some weaknesses remain. The steering, although accurate and nicely weighted, stops short of really communicating what the front wheels are doing. And while the 1.7 CDTi lump does seem more muted than previous, rowdy incarnations (particularly when warmed up and cruising), it’s still more gruff than the 1.6 common-rail unit you’ll find in a Golf BlueMotion.
The Volkswagen also has the edge on interior finish, offers a similar level of involvement, is more economical and almost as fast. But it’s also £600 more expensive, and comes with fewer toys than the Astra.
Should I buy one?
So the ES Tech could turn out to be a finely judged model for Vauxhall. It may not be the class benchmark, but it offers an appealing blend of economy, kit and value. It’d certainly be our pick of the Astra diesels, and were you to choose it over the Golf purely on cost grounds, we’d quite understand.
Vauxhall Astra ES TECH 1.7 CDTI Ecoflex
Price: £19,530; Top speed: 122mph; 0-62mph: 10.7sec; Economy: 62.8mpg (combined); CO2: 119g/km; Kerb weight: 1435kg; Engine: 4 cyls in line, 1686cc, turbodiesel; Power: 123bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 206lb ft at 2000-2700rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual