Air quality concerns over diesel and the development of increasingly-efficient powertrains have moved small-capacity turbo petrol cars up the fleet agenda.
The petrol models produce fewer NOx and particulate emissions than diesel counterparts, while lower P11D prices also add to their appeal.
Earlier this year we looked at the viability of small-capacity petrol models compared to their diesel counterparts. We reported that BCF Wessex research found that over a three-year/60,000-mile cycle, diesel was the “marginal” financially astute option for costs, but drivers would pay more benefit-in-kind tax due to higher P11D prices and the 3% BIK diesel supplement.
We found there were cost advantages of choosing the latest generation of petrol cars for low-mileage drivers. So to give us the chance to find out what a small-capacity petrol car is like in the real world, Vauxhall replaced our long-term Astra 1.6 CDTi 136 SRi with an Astra 1.0i Turbo Ecoflex Elite Nav.
First impressions are favourable: the three-cylinder engine gives a surprisingly strong performance, with plenty of power delivered low down the rev range. Noise from the engine is subdued in everyday use, adding to the refined feel, but when worked harder it produces a distinctive, pleasant thrum.
The Astra’s fuel economy has impressed, too, with each tank of fuel achieving between 47.2mpg and 49.9mpg. Its official combined figure is 64.2mpg.
Elite Nav is the top trim in the Astra range, and standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, electrically-adjustable and heated front seats, heated steering wheel, electronic climate control, electrically-folding door mirrors and two USB chargers for rear-seat passengers.
Vauxhall’s impressive sat nav system with an eight-inch touchscreen is also fitted, while Elite Nav also provides Bluetooth and OnStar connectivity technology.