Neither the Astra nor the Ecoflex moniker are anything new to the Vauxhall range, but the latest version promises the best mix of power and low running costs yet.

Those keen to dip below the 100g/km mark for the lowest BIK band as of April 2012 can now choose 110hp or 130hp versions of the Astra?Ecoflex, which is also available with a range of trim levels, rather than a low-spec one-off as is the case with various rivals.

If you believe the claimed mpg figures, then this 130hp Astra Ecoflex is no more or less economical than the 110hp variant on any cycle, and returns an exceptional official 76.3mpg, although we saw a more realistic but still commendable figure of around 58mpg during our test drive.

The latest itineration of the Astra maintains all the hallmarks of existing versions: a comfortable ride, refinement and good build quality inside. It still lags behind its chief rival, the Ford Focus, in terms of outright driver appeal and it isn’t quite as polished and solid as VW‘s Golf, but it’s not far off.

Again, the CDTi diesel engine in 130hp guise comes across as little different to its other versions. It’s smooth and quiet up until around 3000rpm, after which the sound becomes gruff and more intrusive, as it does in most applications. We’d need to drive both the 110hp and 130hp variants back-to-back to notice the power difference.

Standard equipment of note includes cruise control and a centre console ambient lighting pack, which emits an attractive scarlet glow.

The Astra Ecoflex has always been clean, frugal and refined enough to be a strong competitor, and it’s a sign of how far the industry as a whole has come to say a sub-100g/km Astra doesn’t feel underpowered.

With the Benefit-in-Kind changes coming next spring, it’s good news for the industry that well-specced and reasonably powerful alternatives such as the latest Astra Ecoflex can give drivers almost compromise-free choices.

Vauxhall Astra 1.7 CDTi
Ecoflex Exclusiv 130 Start/Stop
P11D price £20,670
Model price range £12,995-£25,170
Fuel consumption 76.3mpg
CO2 (tax) 99g/km (13%)
BIK 20/40% per month £45/£90
Service interval 20,000miles
Insurance (1-50) group 17
Warranty 100,000 mls
Boot space 351 litres
Engine size/power 1686cc/130hp
Top speed/0-62mph 126mph/10.4secs
On sale November 2011
Score 7/10
Verdict A compelling case for
fleet drivers, but in
reality little better than
existing Astra Ecoflex