Fleet News

Hyundai Coupe vs Toyota Celica vs Vauxhall Astra Coupe



With fleets expanding choice lists and manufacturers dabbling in previously unheard-of niche markets, it isn't too difficult these days to choose something exciting motoring-wise for the price of something ordinary.

For the same cost as a mid-range upper-medium saloon, drivers can select a sleek two-door coupe from well-known manufacturers promising reasonable fuel costs along with sensible servicing intervals and bills.

Toyota has just freshened up its Celica for 2003, putting in a six-speed manual gearbox and offering options such as satnav with electronic traffic avoidance for the first time.

The entry-level Celica is priced at £16,495 on-the-road – exactly the same as the Hyundai Coupe 2.0SE.

Meanwhile, to complete the trio we have the Vauxhall Astra Coupe 2.2, which outguns the others on power while delivering a practical four-seat interior with a decent boot, but it is £200 more expensive.

It is the Astra that suffers most on the used market, with CAP predicting an upper-medium-like retained value of 28% after three-years/60,000- miles. This equates to a depreciation rate of 19.5 pence per mile – a figure familiar to anyone running Ford Mondeos or Renault Lagunas on a fleet.

The Hyundai seems to score relatively well on a predicted 34% from CAP, resulting in a 17.1ppm loss. However, the Celica proves to be the soundest investment, with its 41% retained vale equalling a miserly depreciation rate of 15.43 ppm.

The Vauxhall comes up trumps for servicing, maintenance and repair at 2.45ppm, compared with 2.79ppm for the Hyundai and 2.91ppm for the Toyota. Using an efficient variable valve timing engine, the Celica fares best for fuel costs, with a combined fuel consumption figure of 36.7mpg and 10.4ppm.

The Astra and Hyundai are equal on 33.6mpg and 11.36ppm, which makes the Astra look slightly better with its 145bhp larger capacity engine compared with the 136bhp Hyundai. The upshot of the fuel consumption battle leaves the Hyundai and Vauxhall on equal terms when it comes to emissions, with both producing carbon dioxide at 202g/km. It means the Hyundai driver will be taxed a little less thanks to its list price advantage.

Meanwhile, the Celica driver would be laughing all the way to the bank because it is three tax bands lower.

Looking at the monthly bill of a 22% tax-payer from April 2003, the Celica driver would pay nearly £63, while a driver in the Hyundai would pay £9 more, and an Astra driver would have to part with almost £10 extra per month. The Celica also qualifies for the £140 vehicle excise duty rate, with the others on £155.

In terms of running costs, this is no contest. The Celica wins by a decisive margin – it is more than 4.5ppm cheaper to run than the Astra, with the Hyundai a creditable second, but still some way behind the Toyota.

The sensible money has to be invested in the Celica.

Hyundai Coupe 2.0 SE


HAS the looks and driver appeal to cut it with the best and its generous equipment level should make it a desirable addition to any driveway. Five-year warranty is also unique.

Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £16,315
CO2 emissions (g/km): 202
BIK % of P11D in 2002: 22%
Graduated VED rate: £155
Insurance group: 10
Combined mpg: 33.6
CAP Monitor residual value: £5,575/34%
Depreciation (17.10 pence per mile x 60,000): £10,260
Maintenance (2.79 pence per mile x 60,000): £1,656
Fuel (11.36 pence per mile x 60,000): £6,816
Wholelife cost (31.25 pence per mile x 60,000): £18,750
Typical contract hire rate: £344.65 per month

Toyota Celica 1.8 VVT-I


LOOKING like it's doing 100mph when standing still, the Celica is the best looker here but does its shape hide any dark secrets about high running costs or lacklustre ability? Of course not – this is a Toyota.

Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £16,330
CO2 emissions (g/km): 185
BIK % of P11D in 2002: 19%
Graduated VED rate: £140
Insurance group: 13
Combined mpg: 36.7
CAP Monitor residual value: £6,750/41%
Depreciation (15.43 pence per mile x 60,000): £9,258
Maintenance (2.91 pence per mile x 60,000): £1,746
Fuel (10.40 pence per mile x 60,000): £6,240
Wholelife cost (28.74 pence per mile x 60,000): £17,244
Typical contract hire rate: £337.28 per month

Vauxhall Astra coupe 2.2


THIS Bertone-designed coupe does without the attention-grabbing looks of its rivals, but the 2.2-litre engine is promising and it's the only car adults should contemplate travelling in the rear of.

Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £16,515
CO2 emissions (g/km): 202
BIK % of P11D in 2002: 22%
Graduated VED rate: £155
Insurance group: 12
Combined mpg: 33.6
CAP Monitor residual value: £4,575/28%
Depreciation (19.50 pence per mile x 60,000): £11,700
Maintenance (2.45 pence per mile x 60,000): £1,470
Fuel (11.36 pence per mile x 60,000): £6,816
Wholelife cost (33.31 pence per mile x 60,000): £19,986
Typical contract hire rate: £341.68 per month

Hyundai Coupe 2.0 SE

Coupes should always have pretensions to showmanship, and many drivers would have a rather snobbish attitude to the Hyundai because of its less than glamorous roots.

As good a car as it is, and despite Hyundai's ambitious plan to be a top manufacturer with a shiny lusted-after brand, it is not there yet, certainly when matched against the Toyota with its recent motorsport background.

But it is a decent car with plenty of kit and it certainly sounds good. The 2.0-litre engine is the least powerful here at 136bhp and it shows. It has none of the elasticity of the Toyota motor, although the twin exhausts give it the burble of a more powerful car, if not the shove.

Stopping proved to be noticeably worse than the other two cars. The brakes, although nicely weighted, are not nearly as effective and required a really hefty stamp to get them working fully.

Ride quality is fine, if firm, although there is less grip from the front wheels under acceleration than with the Celica and Astra. The gearchange is less snappy than the Celica, but more direct than the Astra, and the steering is solid if uninvolving.

The car does gets a big tick for leather seats as standard and likewise for much of the interior. As for styling, well it obviously takes inspiration from the Ferrari 550 Maranello, and from B pillar back looks good with a long sweeping rear pillar the most elegant feature. The front half is too clunky, with the bonnet line and headlights just that little bit too awkward.

Likewise the wing mirrors: it is supposed to be a sleek coupe, but they are the size of table tennis bats.

At a glance


  • Exhaust note
  • Plenty of standard equipment
  • Decent boot space


  • Hasn't got the right badge
  • Mish-mash styling
  • Poor brakes

    Toyota Celica 1.8 VVT-I

    Of the three cars here, the Celica looks and feels the most like a bona fide sports car, with its pert high rear, shark fin front lights and pointy nose.

    If somebody wants a coupe, one of the reasons would be that it feels different to the usual saloon driving experience, and the Celica manages to tread its own path. Inside, the cabin wraps its occupants in a dark plastic cloak, with the steep slope of the side windows one of the more unusual features.

    Some of the plastics are a little on the cheap side and the central dash reminds us of a bargain hi-fi system, but on the whole the quality of construction is as high as you would expect from Toyota. The Celica has firm and supportive sports seats that do the job and look the part with a webby black and red material. On long journeys, they become a little numbing on less upholstered rear ends, but that is the trade-off for less body roll (human) when cornering.

    We would like to have seen more adjustment on the steering wheel. It is a grippy, nicely weighted number but does not pull out far enough for some drivers, so it is not possible to get the ideal seating position.

    The car turns in positively and with little roll, while the engine is the most advanced and zingy here. With six gears, the Celica likes a good thrashing to get the best out of it, and although it is not particularly fast – it would need the more advanced VVTL-i unit to start getting truly speedy – it is a fine engine which has a lovely sound, as well as being the most fuel efficient on test. The gearbox is a joy with short positive throws and is the match of virtually any in the reasonably priced market. It is certainly the best in this range.

    Not surprisingly space in the rear is awful, but that's not a criticism, more an observation.

    At a glance


  • Sleek styling
  • Best on wholelife costs
  • Best on driving dynamics Against
  • Lack of steering wheel adjustment
  • Least amount of boot space
  • Some plasticky interior parts

    Vauxhall Astra Coupe 2.2 Bertone

    THERE is no doubt that the Astra is the best here for somebody looking for compromise because it has more space in the back and has less of a coupe feel. In fact, sitting in the driver's seat, it might as well be a hatchback, particularly with the stock Vauxhall dashboard, which is pretty dull.

    It is the fastest car on paper because it has the largest engine, but when the Celica is on song it feels much more involving and equally pacy, without the burden of higher emissions and fuel consumption. The extra volume of the Astra's 2.2-litre engine counts against it, but at least it matches the Hyundai at 202 g/km of CO2 and 33.6 mpg on the combined cycle.

    The Astra, from the A pillar back, is a tidy looking car without being breathtaking, although the front could do with being a little more jazzy to differentiate it from the rest of the range. Because of its relatively conservative design, boot capacity is considerably better than the other two at 460 litres compared to 418 for the Hyundai and 345 for the Toyota.

    As a driver's car, the Astra has always been rather underrated, and the coupe is no different. It provides a surefooted experience with plenty of grip and while the gearbox cannot hold a candle to the other two in our test – it has long wobbly throw – the steering is measured and responsive, if not as much as the Celica.

    An almost universal moan from the Astra Coupe when we had two in a row on long term test last year was the seats and nothing has changed. Although they give plenty of side support, the backs are as flat as an ironing board and we found them uncomfortable on long journeys.

    At a glance


  • Interior and boot space
  • Accomplished chassis
  • Most powerful car


  • Uncomfortable seats
  • Wobbly long-throw gearchange
  • Conservative styling


    CHOOSING a winner here is easy – it has to be the Toyota Celica. The Japanese contender soundly beats the Vauxhall Astra Coupe and Hyundai Coupe in running costs, is the best car of our trio to drive and looks sleek and aggressive. Ranking the other two is more difficult – the Hyundai is better on running costs, while the Astra is more practical. In the end, you don't choose a coupe for practicality and we would make the Hyundai our second choice.

  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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