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Vauxhall Astra Ecoflex: Test Drive

Date: 11 February 2009   |   Author:

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £18,165
Key rival: Ford Focus

Vauxhall is the latest manufacturer to jump aboard the sub-121g/km bandwagon for its core fleet proposition.

The Astra Ecoflex follows in the wheeltracks of rivals such as the Ford Focus and Peugeot 308, which offer a benefit-in-kind-cutting lower medium class variant that sneaks into the 13% BIK banding.

The Ecoflex is available in both three- and five-door shapes and across almost all of the trim levels bar the top-spec versions.

Powered by the 1.7-litre 110PS diesel, the Astra is within 5PS of all its key low-CO2 rivals, and the 119g/km CO2 figure is one better than the Peugeot 308 (that's admittedly an auto) and level with the Ford Focus 1.6 diesel in Zetec trim. There is, though, a lower-CO2 Econetic Focus that's a little more expensive but with a 115g/km CO2 figure.

Like a lot of these low-CO2 models, the engine is a let-down in terms of refinement. It's very, very noisy and vibrates back through the cabin in a way its rivals don't. The engine does feel perkier than the 110PS power claim, however, and appears quicker than competitors.

Unfortunately, it's residual values that costs Vauxhall. RV expert Kwik Carcost predicts the Design trim will retain just 25.9% of its value after three years and 60,000 miles. That compares with 29.7% for the Focus, 32.1% for the 308 and 34.7% for the Prius hybrid that's similarly priced, and places the Astra last with regards to cost per mile despite having the lowest SMR cost of the four.

On CO2 terms alone, it's also worth looking at Seat's 105PS Leon Ecomotive and the 90PS Kia Ceed. They come in £4000 and £5000 cheaper respectively, but both have significantly better predicted RVs - 38.2% in the Leon's case - so their cost per mile figures come out at 32.3 and 31.0p per mile. Equipment is, though, sparse compared with the other cars listed here.

Away from the Ecoflex emissions reductions, it's still the same Astra that's due for replacement in the next 12 months. The exterior, in five-door form at least, once looked fresh and stylish but has now slipped behind its rivals, while the interior's fine for quality but lacks in terms of ergonomics and a clear, usable dashboard layout. Also, virtually all its volume rivals are already established with their lower medium sub-121g/km offerings, and bearing in mind Vauxhall's eco-brand Ecoflex is competing with standard 1.6-litre diesels from its main rivals, rather than the Econetic Focus and forthcoming Bluemotion Golf, both of which will sit well below the Ecoflex's 120g/km, Vauxhall still has a lot of work to do.

The Astra is competitive on paper for CO2, mpg, price and equipment, but doesn't do anything its rivals aren't already doing cheaper or cleaner.

Vauxhall Astra Ecoflex 1.7 CDTi Design 5dr
P11D price£18,165
Model price range£15,875-£19,575
Fuel consumption62.8mpg
CO2 (tax) 119g/km/13%
BIK 20/40% per month£39/£79
Service interval20000mls
Insurancegroup 6
Boot space (min/max)350/1265 litres
Engine size/power1686cc/110PS
Top speed/0-62mph117mph/12.0secs
On sale Now
VerdictBetter late than never, but
doesn’t bring anything new
to the party and is outpointed
by all major rivals


Better late than never, but doesn’t bring anything new to the party and is outpointed by all major rivals