The feeling of been-there-done-that was intense, especially as the only differences appeared to be swankier mats, a more knobbly leather steering wheel, smarter figures in the trip computer screen and an aluminium gearstick.
But then I drove it and a whole new world opened up. Where the 147bhp 2.2 is quick, the 190bhp Turbo is savagely fast, sharper and downright sexier. Put your foot down and the engine pulls hard from 2,000rpm in any gear, with a bark of the exhaust and a shrill whistle of the turbo. It will do 0-60mph in under seven seconds and top out at more than 150mph, which makes it about the fastest practical car under 20 grand now the Fiat Coupe is defunct.
It's in the car's blood to bound forward at the slightest prod, eager to accelerate and tyre-gnashingly hungry. In the wet, the de rigueur getaway requires a 10-yard scrabble, and over ruts and bumps, wet or dry, the Astra skips and shimmies as all that power attempts to claw its way out through the front Goodyear Eagle F1s, which at around £190 a corner, aren't cheap to replace regularly.
So it's great fun, which is why as a fleet choice, in my opinion, it might be better to give it a miss. Not because the fuel consumption is bad — a reasonable 31mpg was achieved regularly and it churns out 214 g/km of CO2 - but because any driver who wants one of these will just have to thrash it.
As a fleet manager of Moody Worldwide Empire Inc, I would be trying to get drivers into the more sensible, less licence-busting 2.2 and option it up with the £1,000 heated leather seats and the £500 style pack that will at least make it look like it's going faster than it is.
But should the temptation prove too much to bear and your drivers promise to behave themselves, the turbo can make a case for itself. At £18,995, next year's emissions based tax system will see a 22% payer receiving a bill of £1,002, and a 40% payer forking out £1,823, which, for a performance car, isn't the worst in the world.
And after three years/60,000 miles, if the sales manager has not been using the car park as his own personal Santa Pod, he will return the car in good condition and it should be worth 32% of its original value at £5,975.