Fleet News

Vauxhall Astra Convertible 2.2 - 1,287 miles



SUCH was the demand for Vauxhall's new topless model that we had to wait longer than expected for delivery of our long term Astra Cabriolet.

The June 1 delivery date came and went and as the daytime temperatures dropped and the nights started to close in, I was on the verge of cancelling the car, because - let's face it - who wants a cabrio in winter?

But long term tests are all about taking the rough with the smooth and six months of fun in the sun wouldn't really amount to a realistic appraisal of what it's like to live with a ragtop come rain or shine. Then again - given our contrary climate - it probably would.

Naturally, the day the Astra arrived dawned dry and sunny, but as hometime approached, and with it, the first opportunity to test the fully automated hood, along came a sudden deluge. Determined to arrive back home with the roof down, I sat in a layby until the shower passed and then hit the powerhood button on the dashboard.

Within 30 seconds, the Astra was transformed from a slightly ungainly version of the Coupe to a sleek and seductive sportscar simply oozing desire. For anyone who has never 'owned' an open-top car before - this is a defining moment.

I'm not normally given to getting borne away on tides of euphoria, but dropping the windows, turning up the stereo and burying the throttle produced the biggest grin my ugly mug's seen for a long time.

Whether this simple pleasure outweighs the well-documented drawbacks of running a ragtop will be considered in future reports, but for the moment, I'm just enjoying the sheer, unalloyed pleasure of open-top motoring at every opportunity.

And I'm pleased to say, I'm not the only one. On seeing the Astra roll into the drive, my TR6-driving pal was happy to leave his beloved Triumph in the garage for a trip into town and when the Astra was called on to chauffeur the Happy Couple to the airport after a very well-to-do wedding, one admittedly well-lubricated guest remarked: “Hmmm. Nice lines. Is it Italian?”

And when called on to fulfil the more traditional demands of the company car, the Astra performed with aplomb. On a 300-mile round trip in conditions more suited to a submarine, the Astra hood repelled as much H2O as leaden Northern skies could chuck at it and, after a bit of fiddling with the controls, the ventilation system managed to keep the windows demisted and the driver cool.

The next report will tackle more important questions like fuel consumption, insurance groups and whole-life costs, but until then, I'm praying the Indian Summer continues, because I haven't enjoyed driving this much for quite some time.

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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