From £12,240
Despite a raft of tweaks aimed at achieving impressive frugality, this Vauxhall Astra 1.7 CDTi Ecoflex Exclusiv still offers an engaging driver experience

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Astra 2009-2015
The Astra is now in its sixth incarnation, but it can trace its linage back to 1963's Viva

The Vauxhall Astra is one of the best-looking hatchbacks, but average dynamics and performance hamper its overall appeal

1 December 2011

What is it?

This is the accomplished and exceptionally frugal Vauxhall Astra hatchback. Although it carries a punchy 1.7-litre diesel engine, this Astra is the most economical model in the car’s line-up, capable of upwards of 75mpg with emissions that undercut the golden 100g/km Co2 marker.

These figures are achieved thanks to revisions to the Astra’s diesel engine, including a reduced compression ratio and a new variable geometry turbocharger, which provides greater boost-pressure control.

In addition, an energy-recuperation system stores kinetic energy in the car’s battery during braking and throttle lift-off and an active aero-shutter in the radiator grille improves aerodynamics at higher speeds. A stop-start system, eco tyres and an underbody aero kit also feature.

Like the 99g/km Co2 emitting Seat Leon 1.6 TDI CR Ecomotive, VW Golf BlueMotion 1.6 TDI, Audi A3 1.6 TDI and Peugeot 308 SR e-HDi EGC (with stop-start), the Astra sits in tax band A and is exempt from the London Congestion Charge.

What’s it like?

Despite its headlining eco credentials, the Vauxhall Astra tested here makes impressive progress in most driving situations. Every nugget of the oil-burner’s 221lb ft torque figure is exploited by a well-suited and slick six-speed manual gearbox; unlike other similar-sized eco hatchbacks, the Astra doesn’t suffer with poor low-end twist, brought on by taller gearing.

Around town, the car’s supple suspension copes well with poorly maintained British roads, managing to soak up potholes without any crash intrusion into the cabin. The stop-start system copes adequately, although we were able to catch it out on occasion; when we were ready to move off again quickly, the engine sometimes hesitated as it was still in the shut-down transition.

The Astra’s ride is firm but comfortable and the car’s nicely-weighted steering also makes it a car that can be introduced to a twisty B-road by keener drivers. Thanks to its balanced chassis, quick changes in direction can be made confidently and heavy braking stops the car very competently and with little drama. The brake pedal feel is also very good.

Excellent refinement is another benefit the Astra brings to the table and is something you’ll notice as soon as you enter the cabin. The car’s switchgear is of a good quality, the interior logically laid out there are plenty of soft-touch plastics around the centre console and dashboard. The fabric seats, too, are firm and very supportive.

It’ll comfortably seat four adults and the boot is one of the most accommodating in the Astra’s class at 351 litres. By comparison, the Ford Focus swallows 25 litres less.

Should I buy one?

The real question is, why wouldn’t you buy one? The Vauxhall Astra (in this guise at least) offers groundbreaking economy figures, impressive performance and pleasing driver engagement levels. Granted, it will cost you more of your hard-earned upfront compared with similar eco models, but none offer such a well-rounded and entertaining package.

Alex Kertsen

Vauxhall Astra 1.7 CDTi Ecoflex Exclusiv start-stop

Price: £20,725; Top speed: 126mph; 0-62mph: 10.4sec; Economy: 76.3 (combined); Co2: 99g/km; Kerb weight: 1446kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1686cc, turbodiesel; Installation: Front, transverse, FWD; Power: 128bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 221lb ft 2000-2500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

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Comments
19

7 December 2011

This really does come across as a no compromise eco model.

Also it looks far better than it's direct competitors in my opinion.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

7 December 2011

Normally the 1.7cdti is blasted, quite rightly, for having terrible refinement. Have GM finally fixed it? Is the engine no longer rough and sounding like a bag of bolts on full-throttle?

7 December 2011

It certainly does make me wonder why Vauxhall are going to drop this 1.7 litre diesel engine. To achieve 99g/km in a car this size whilst still being relatively brisk is a massive achievement, and in Exclusiv trim, this Astra probably does justify its somewhat steep price tag. This beats the Golf Bluemotion any day of the week. Especially if this engine is available in the coupe!

7 December 2011

This car is history in the making, meaning the first interesting eco hatchback, well done!

7 December 2011

I'd like one of these in 2-3 years time, when someone else has borne the brunt of the depreciation.

7 December 2011

[quote Windy57]I'd like one of these in 2-3 years time, when someone else has borne the brunt of the depreciation.[/quote]

Well, I'd consider having one of these as a company car - certainly ticks all the 'cost' boxes, and on the strength of this review, ticks a fair number of the 'ability' boxes too.

You can have mine when I'm ready to replace it. Take your chances with the others at the auction house...

7 December 2011

It seems an incredibly capable car. I would be sceptical as to whether the 75mpg, or even 65mpg would be regularly achievable. However given this models better looks in comparison to those of its competitors and its eco credentials it seems like very good value. A great step forward for Vauxhall.

7 December 2011

I actually think Vauxhall have finally done the unthinkable with the new Astra: Produced a better quality and more fun to drive car than its arch rival the Focus.

7 December 2011

[quote Autocar]

What is it?

This is the accomplished and exceptionally frugal Vauxhall Astra hatchback. Although it carries a punchy 1.7-litre diesel engine, this Astra is the most economical model in the car’s line-up, capable of upwards of 75mpg with emissions that undercut the golden 100g/km Co2 marker.


These figures are achieved thanks to revisions to the Astra’s diesel engine, including a reduced compression ratio and a new variable geometry turbocharger, which provides greater boost-pr...Read the full article

[/quote] Why are Ford and Vauxhall creating car fascias that look like Amstrad stereos? Full credit to BMW who have gone their own way with coloured red stripes which look fresh and every bit as nice as a bit of wood veneer. Come on GM & Henry, make a smart interior for a change.

7 December 2011

[quote Windy57]

I'd like one of these in 2-3 years time, when someone else has borne the brunt of the depreciation.

[/quote] It'll cost no more than £8500 by then, and then it will make sense.

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