Our new long-termer isn’t a complete stranger to me: I drove the new Vauxhall Astra on its UK press launch in September last year and left the event impressed, describing it as a car that can “comfortably hold its own against the class best”.
Around six months before this, I was coming to the end of a stint of running a previous-generation Astra as a long-term test car, and it was clear to see that the new model had made a giant step forward.
The quality of design and materials has markedly improved. Despite being slightly smaller than its predecessor, it has more interior space and, due in part to weighing up to 200kg less, it is much nicer to drive.
A further improvement is that, like-for-like, the new range has lower P11D prices than the outgoing one (up to £2,200 on some models), which leads to lower tax bills for both employer and employee.
Our test model is the 1.6-litre CDTi SRi Nav in 136hp trim. It has CO2 emissions of 103g/km and an official combined fuel economy of 72.3mpg.
Standard equipment includes air-conditioning, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, leather steering wheel, front foglights, Bluetooth connectivity and integrated sat-nav with an eight-inch touchscreen.
The standard driver assistance pack features a front camera system, traffic sign assistant, lane keep assist, lane departure warning and forward collision alert with collision-imminent braking.
SRi trim also features Vauxhall’s OnStar system, which turns the car into a 4G wi-fi hotspot as well as providing emergency response notification and a range of other services.
First impressions of our new long-termer have backed up my thoughts from the launch event. It will be interesting to see if the next five months changes them in any way.