Vauxhall is looking to sharpen the perception of its brand in the UK marketplace following the introduction of improved products such as the new Astra.

“If you look at the Vauxhall brand, we are in a good place, but it could be sharper – we are leading on many things and I’m not sure consumers associate Vauxhall with industry-leading,” said the company’s managing director Rory Harvey. “We can definitely go out there and say we are pushing the boundaries in product functionality and technology.”

“We would always like our reputation to evolve, and go further than where it is today – we are in a good position but could drive more consideration,” he continued.

The sentiment was backed up by Vauxhall’s fleet marketing boss Paul Adler, who said the company needs to motivate more company car drivers towards its cars. “We have lots of people buying for rational reasons and a lot because they love Vauxhall, but we need more to want Vauxhall,” he explained to BusinessCar. “The Insignia has given us a lot of confidence and has been the segment leader for a couple of years, and we’re starting to see with the Astra that more user-choosers are going into the higher SRi and Elite trims.”

Adler said there is still more work to be done on the Astra, with new engines about to be added to the range, including the 88g/km entry-level diesel and a 160hp bi-turbo diesel unit. “We had a fabulous Astra launch with fantastic feedback and class-leading RVs and BIK, but it takes time for the message to get out there so there is still a lot we can do on Astra,” he said.

That goal will be helped by the Astra last week being named 2016 European Car of the Year. It beat off competition from the Mazda MX-5 and the third-placed Volvo XC90 SUV, as well as the four other shortlisted models, with the decision a result of votes from 58 European motoring journalists.

“We’re delighted the Astra has been recognised,” said Harvey. “To be named European Car of the Year by judges throughout Europe is a testament to the hard work that has gone into the Astra.”

The next Astra development is the addition of the Sports Tourer estate, which arrives in the UK next month (test report coming in the 22 March issue of BusinessCar). That car is of particular relevance as Vauxhall predicts an 80:20 fleet ratio. “It can be the car that allows you to sell other Vauxhalls,” said Adler. “If you win
job-need then you are in a good position to sell to other bits of fleet.”