What is it?
This is a Vauxhall Astra for those who like performance, as well as infrequent trips to the fuel station, if you believe the numbers on paper. This 2.0 CDTi ecoFLEX model is the fastest, most powerful Astra diesel you can buy, its engine producing 158bhp and the 0-60mph sprint taking 8.5sec.
But it’ll also return 62.8mpg on the combined cycle and has a tax friendly CO2 rating of 119g/km. So far, so good, then.
What’s it like?
This Astra may be quick, but it’s not fun or especially comfortable to drive. The engine has plenty of poke and is responsive at all legal speeds, and, unlike in most eco-biased cars, its six forward ratios are nicely spaced for swift and unblunted progress.
But the engine is noisy at low speeds and around town and there is considerable diesel clatter. This only really disappears were you’re into fifth and sixth gear on the motorway. The clutch, too, is much firmer than we’d like and has a very narrow bite point. Not great in traffic. That said the stop-start system is efficient and unobtrusive enough.
Elsewhere, the Astra’s chassis lacks the involvement of its rivals. The 2.0 CDTi engine makes the Astra feel like a heavy car and one lacking agility or involvement. The steering, however, is nicely weighted and precise and the ride is acceptable, if lacking the absorption abilities of the Golf and Focus.