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Company cars don't come much more prolific than the Vauxhall Astra, with the current model able to put its success down to competitive pricing and the sheer range of models available.
The new version should prove even more popular, however, thanks to prices that have been slashed by up to £2200, plenty of standard kit, and economical engines that return up to 91.2mpg - plus the option of Vauxhall's BusinessCar Techie award-winning OnStar safety, security and 4G wi-fi hotspot system. Motors range from a 100hp 1.4-litre petrol to a 200hp 1.6-litre petrol, with the 1.6-litre diesels, which produce from 110hp to 160hp, likely to be fleet favourites.
The 136hp diesel offers the best combination of economy and power with emissions of 103g/km putting it into the 18% BIK band in SRi Nav form. This motor is mostly smooth and refined, only becoming noisy when worked hard - something that isn't often necessary considering the muscle available at low engine speeds, both around town and on the motorway.
Refinement levels are also strong, with little wind or road noise inside, although the engine does drone a little at higher motorway speeds.
More noticeable, however, is ride quality; the diesel SRi Nav we drove had unnecessarily firm suspension, which failed to smooth out a number of bumps, without giving the Astra sports car-style roadholding.
We found the Elite Nav spec 150hp 1.4-litre petrol model much more comfortable, although Vauxhall insists both share the same suspension. This petrol engine also provides faster acceleration and greater refinement, while at 46.9p in SRi Nav form it costs just 0.6p more per mile than the 136hp 1.6 diesel in the same trim.
Tech Line models offer much greater value, however, including an eight-inch touchscreen satnav system,air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control, but weighing in at just 41.2p for the 136hp diesel and 40.8p for the 125hp petrol. This compares favourably with 42.9p for the Ford Focus 1.5 TDCI 120 Zetec Nav and 40.4p for the Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC S Nav, both of which offer slower acceleration.
The Astra also features a high-quality, easy-to-use interior, with dashboard controls zoned clearly by function and a large, legible screen for the media system, plus generous room for five passengers. The boot, meanwhile, is less well thought out and without an adjustable boot floor, loading bulky items in the deep space is tricky.
The Astra may not be the most desirable machine, but the well-priced Tech Line trim provides much greater value for money than most rivals, allowing user-choosers to get a sprightly 136hp diesel model for less than most 110hp rivals. The tables are turned for SRi Nav and Elite Nav versions, though, so choosing trim levels carefully is the key to getting the best value Astra.
Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 136 SRi Nav
Model price range £15,295-23,520
Residual value 32.6%
Service, maintenance and repair £1691
Vehicle Excise Duty £40
National Insurance £1597
Cost per mile 46.3p
Fuel consumption 72.4mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 103g/km (18%)
BIK 20/40% per month £64/£129
Boot space 370/1210 litres
Engine size/power 1598cc/136hp
Low whole-life costs for satnav-equipped Tech Line versions make it a great value option
Low prices and standard satnav make Tech Line models a bargain
Diesel SRi Nav suspension set-up feels unnecessarily firm