By the time this magazine reaches your desks, our long-term Vauxhall Astra will have hit the 10,000-mile mark and it continues to impress.
It’s given me no reasons to doubt my initial opinion made some five months ago that it is a vast all-round improvement on its predecessor.
It’s good to drive, feels well built – although it has developed an occasional rattle somewhere in the driver’s door trim – and is generally an accomplished car.
This mix of qualities means there are now plenty of emotional reasons to choose an Astra, but how does it stack up cost-wise to its rivals?
For the purpose of this report, we are comparing the Vauxhall, which has a P11D price of £20,725, to the 110hp Volks-wagen Golf 1.6 TDI S (£21,000) and the 120hp Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi Zetec (£19,990).
The lower power outputs of the Golf and Focus mean they produce less CO2 (both 99g/km) than the Astra’s 103gkm, putting them in the 19% benefit-in-kind tax band – one percentage point lower than the Vauxhall.
This means that for a 20% taxpayer, the Golf will cost them £798 a year, compared with the Focus at £760 and the Astra at £829.
These figures are reflected in the amount of Class 1A national insurance contributions a company will have to pay too: at £572, the Astra is the most expensive, compared to the Focus’s £524 and Golf’s £551.
However, the Astra splits its two rivals on total running costs over a four-year/80,000-mile replacement cycle.
Figures from the fleetnews.co.uk running costs calculator show that it will cost 29.37 pence per mile to operate: more than the Focus (28.74ppm) but less than the Golf (29.64ppm).
This seems to be a small price to pay for the Astra’s extra power, which means it makes a very strong case for itself on the balance sheet as well as on the road.