From £12,240
A pleasant cabin and well-sorted ride - but it brings nothing new to the class

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

What is it?

Vauxhall’s take on the familiar eco-car recipe. Take your all-new model, add tall gearing and a small diesel engine and you have a very frugal car. This is exactly what Vauxhall has done with the Astra EcoFlex, with a 94bhp 1.2-litre turbodiesel motor and a five-speed gearbox.

See test pics of the Vauxhall Astra ecoFLEX

What’s it like?

Producing this sort of model makes a lot of business sense and occasionally makes a very nice car, but often it results in an underpowered engine hampered even more so by the gearing. This is exactly what you have with the new Astra EcoFlex. At a steady cruise on the motorway or at urban speeds the engine settles and it’s easy to appreciate the Astra’s supple ride and an interior that avoids the piously basic finish that some rivals get.

But gathering momentum requires a lot of patience. The tiny turbodiesel motor struggles to tow the burden of the heavy Astra if you want to make normal progress through traffic, forcing you to work the engine beyond 2500rpm much of the time - harder than would be necessary with a bigger or more powerful unit.

This also means that motor’s gruff tone is audible in the cabin most of the time. Even at idle it’s noticeable – a problem that could be avoided if the Astra were fitted with stop-start technology; an obvious way to further improve the all-important economy as well. Not having an average or instant mpg readout in the EcoFlex is also a huge oversight, though you can be sure the Astra isn’t a very heavy drinker with a very respectable output of 109g/km and 68.9mpg.

Should I buy one?

In general the EcoFlex is very economical and it’s a perfectly pleasant way to travel if you don’t mind sedate progress. It’s also competitively priced and comes with a decent list of standard spec, making it one of the nicest cars in the class to spend time in.

But the compromises it asks you to make in the name of saving fuel are more severe than in some and it brings nothing new to the class. You’d be better off looking at the more competent offerings from Volkswagen, Kia and Volvo.

Vauxhall Astra 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX Exclusiv

Price: £17,885; Top speed: 109mph; 0-60mph: 13.8sec; Economy: 68.9mpg; CO2: 109g/km; Kerbweight: 1336kg; Engine: 4cyl, 1248cc, turbodiesel; Power: 94bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 140lb ft at 1750-3250rpm; Gearbox: 5spd manual

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Comments
16

16 July 2010

compared with the 1.4 petrol of the same trim level as the 1.2 diesel:

1.2 diesel extra cost to buy£1,805
Saving per 1000 miles£24.51
Miles to break even73,635
Time to break even
at 12,000 miles per year
6 years

for economy, the 1.4 seems the better plan.

but if the ultimate goal was economy and not trim, level, which surely diesel owners are interested in then the 1.4 petrol expression is the one to get.

1.2 diesel extra cost to buy£3,185
Saving per 1000 miles£24.51
Miles to break even129,932
Time to break even
at 12,000 miles per year
11 years

16 July 2010

[quote Autocar]

Vauxhall has done with the Astra EcoFlex, with a 94bhp 1.2-litre turbodiesel motor and a five-speed gearbox.

[/quote] Do Vauxhall not class it as a 1.3?

Fitting such small engines strikes me as an exercise in meeting official targets, but not delivering real world economy. I have no doubt a 110bhp 1.6 diesel with the same modifications and a 6 speed gearbox would deliver better real world economy as you wouldn't be revving the nuts off it. Infact, the Volvo DrivE range use a 1.6 engine with start/stop for 74mpg (72?) on the C30.

16 July 2010

[quote beachland2]1.2 diesel extra cost to buy£1,805[/quote] Yet the diesel will retain more than the diesel, I reckon you can almost halve that figure. Then again this is not an Astra I'd buy - none of the current GM diesels are.

17 July 2010

oh dear, the myth of diesel resale values. its not true.

ES List Price

3 Year Value
1.4i 16V ES 5d
£15,375

£6,018












1.3 CDTi 16V ecoFLEX ES 5d
£17,180

£6,339

17 July 2010

@ beachland2 you have yet again let the "ban diesel" stance narrow your view. It's for company car users in the main attracting tax at 13% compared to 18% for the 1.4 and allows the fleet to appear low. Doesn't matter if you agree with the principle or not, that's why this car exists. I only have diesel for the miles I do and that it reduces my tax bill. Our private car is petrol as diesel makes no sense for that one.

Back to FWD Sad

19 July 2010

Presumably this is an Astra made by General Motors with a Vauxhall roundel badge rather than an Opel, Chevrolet, Buick or Holden one

19 July 2010

The omission of the MPG computer is suspicious to say the least... Could it be because the real-world economy generated by sticking a puny 1.2 in a heavy family car would be embarrassing to say the least.

By contrast my BMW 120d can get real-world 50-60mpg because it has sufficient power and torque that I never need exceed 2000rpm unless I choose to do so.

SDR

19 July 2010

[quote nicebiscuit]

The omission of the MPG computer is suspicious to say the least... Could it be because the real-world economy generated by sticking a puny 1.2 in a heavy family car would be embarrassing to say the least.

By contrast my BMW 120d can get real-world 50-60mpg because it has sufficient power and torque that I never need exceed 2000rpm unless I choose to do so.

[/quote]

Agreed - 18k for this Astra or any equivalent sounds insane. I have an A3 2.0TDi (company car) and I think the list price with options was about 22k (or thereabouts - and the engine is available with two cheaper specs) - that strikes me as FAR better value. For the reasons you describe I have never seen an average mpg of less than 50, and with no great effort it will return >60. I'm sure it also helps that it, like any other decent spec mid-range car, has six forward gears - I really loathe these 'eco' models with tiny engines and stretched out 5 speeders - for 18 grand?! It can only make a poor driving experience even worse.

For my money in this market a decent 2.0TDi is an enormously more appealing option - far better performance, far more in-keeping with the money I'm spending, also better equipped, at least as good real world economy if you know how to drive properly, better residuals (if VW/Audi/BMW etc)... bah. Ecodiesel models... keep 'em. :)

Oh and to pre-empt some come-backs - I'm not trying to get into an Audi vs BMW debate, I drive a diesel because as a company car petrols make zero financial sense, and I am aware that the tax on an Ecodiesel would be even less. However in my personal opinion they are poor value, poorly engineered (in terms of mech spec), and a compromise too far.

19 July 2010

I don't understand why Vauxhall/Volkswagen etc, need to make specific models under the "green" banner and charge you more for a worse car.

19 July 2010

[quote Pastra]

I don't understand why Vauxhall/Volkswagen etc, need to make specific models under the "green" banner and charge you more for a worse car.

[/quote]

I agree totally why pay a premium in price to have a eco badge on with silly ECO tyres and gearing, PSA 1.6 diesel and renaults 1.5 diesel are economical no matter how you drive it and dont need silly eco non sense put on em. the focus uses the 1.6 peugeot unit and they make a silly eco version of it!!! whats the point the focus with 110bhp in non eco form will be a nicer car than the eco version.

Also i know beachland is very anti diesel but 2000£ price premium over the petrol is insane too and private owners need to really do their homework on the cost of the car and fuel, tax ect ect

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