Fleet News

Vauxhall Astra Coupe



THREE years ago production of one of Britain's best-loved sports coupes, the Calibra, was stopped due to the introduction of the Vectra which replaced the long-serving Cavalier - on which the Calibra was based.

From a demand perspective the loss was a great blow with nearly 40,000 units sold in the seven-year production run from 1993-97 with the last full year totalling 3,815 models - more than the Fiat Coup_ (1,638), Ford Probe (2,013), Honda Prelude (1,563) and the Nissan 200SX (909). King-of-the-hill was (and still is) the BMW 3-series with 10,564 sales.

But from a commercial angle, a new chassis and engine line-up for the Vectra meant the Calibra no longer fitted in to Vauxhall's sports car plans. However, waiting in the wings was the new Astra which was a revelation in the handling stakes.

However, Vauxhall's supremacy at the top of the lower medium sector was short-lived with the introduction of the Ford Focus. What the Astra needed, then, was a pick-me-up pill that added a dose of style and charisma. And Vauxhall's answer - albeit two years later - comes in the shape of the new Astra Coup_.

Mirroring the conservative elegance that became a Calibra fort_, the Coup_ has been co-designed with Italian styling house Bertone (who also build it), with a number of subtle tweaks such as the steeper-raked windscreen and lowered, sweeping roof line. Two models are available initially: the Coup_ and 2.2 Bertone Edition Coup_, with the Turbo Coup_ delayed to the autumn. Entry-level versions come with the familiar four-cylinder 1.8-litre ECOTEC engine developing 112bhp.

Debuting in the 2.2 Bertone Edition Coup_ is a lightweight all-aluminium engine producing 144bhp. At the top of the range is the Turbo Coup_ with a 2.0-litre engine based on the 133bhp ECOTEC unit from the Astra and Vectra, but with a power hike to 187bhp. Performance is impressive with a 0-62mph figure of 6.7secs and a top speed of 149mph.

Prices for the Astra Coup_ start at ú16,150 for the 1.8, rising to ú17,650 for the 2.2 tested here and the top Turbo at ú19,995.

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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