A pleasant cabin and well-sorted ride - but it brings nothing new to the class

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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andrepaul999 26 July 2010

Re: Vauxhall Astra ecoFLEX

absolutely spot on, these cars are targettted as company cars only. If you walk into a dealer you are likely to wait a very long time for one and there would be reduced discounts too.

Its made me wonder though : If all you have to do these days to get an extra 10 mpg and cheap tax is to lower a car 35mm, give it skinny wheels and eco tyres and lenghten to top gear ratio..... why has it taken the car makers so long to get round to it??????

nicebiscuit 22 July 2010

Re: Vauxhall Astra ecoFLEX

SDR wrote:
Oh and to pre-empt some come-backs - I'm not trying to get into an Audi vs BMW debate

Fair enough :-) And from what I've heard of the latest VAG CR diesels, they've caught up with BMW... If I were spending my money I'd have an Octavia with that engine...

This is all about company cars though isnt it? Mine's a company motor too - in that market you might as well have an A3 or 1 series as you don't seem to save any money on the lease opting for the cheaper brands I'd consider privately. Some companies don't like to let people have the premium 'badge' though

No-one will spend their own money on one of these eco-specials. They'll be forced to take one by corporate policy for status reasons: A4 or 320ED for the middle managers, this for 'lesser' employees... These models are great for corporate greenwashing.

Flash Harry 19 July 2010

Re: Vauxhall Astra ecoFLEX

The Astra doesnt sell well in Ireland as i havent seen many on the road.It is very bland,a shame after the success of the Insignia