Fleet News

Vauxhall Astra Coupe Turbo - 4,800 miles



##Coupe Turbo--right##IT is amazing how putting an engine with nearly 200bhp into a vehicle the size of a Vauxhall Astra makes you rethink your attitude to tax and the environment.

While Fleet News is at the forefront of the campaign to make drivers aware of the potential tax implications of the new carbon dioxide benefit-in-kind tax regime being introduced in 2002, some would argue that life is too short to worry about such things. This is particularly true when you look at how much power for your pound company car tax allows you.

Admittedly, some might moan about the increasing cost of tax for luxury cars, particularly high mileage drivers covering more than 18,000 business miles a year, but for most drivers, it is bargain basement time.

You could opt for the Astra Coupe Turbo for £19 a week in tax as a 22% taxpayer and £34 a week as a 40% taxpayer. Alternatively, the Lotus Elise offers a 0-60mph time of 5.7 seconds, yet would cost just £16.51 a week in tax for a 22% taxpayer and £30.02 for a 40% taxpayer.

Now go and find the same car for the same price anywhere else in the country privately. I can guarantee you won't and you can't.

If you get a company car as part of your job, then you are still receiving an incredibly good value-for-money offering. I mentioned rethinking my attitude to the environment as well, but that was simply because I tend to be more aggressive with the throttle with such a capable car.

With all the speed cameras littering Britain's roads, the only real place you can test this car's handling is on a roundabout - and it is a revelation.

The stiff body almost eliminates body roll and when you turn the wheel, the front snaps into place without skidding. The engine revs up to about 6,500rpm, with a delightful surge of power at about 4,000rpm that sends the rev counter swinging lustily towards the red line.

For anyone in charge of the fleet, you might fear these attributes would lead to poor fuel economy, but using cruise control on the motorway and keeping high-spirited driving to a minimum, I managed 35.4mpg, easily beating the previous test average of 30mpg. Just to put it in perspective, that improvement is worth about £300 off fuel costs over three years and 60,000 miles.

However, with such high performance going through the front wheels, a note of caution should be sounded. As my colleague Steve Moody reported in the previous test, the Goodyear Eagle F1s on our test car cost £190 each, so shred your front tyres and the company pays £380.

Even with traction control, you can get through tyres quickly, as my roundabout exploits might prove, so drivers may need to be reminded that power comes with the responsibility not to destroy your fleet budget in pursuit of fun.

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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