Fleet News

Vauxhall Astra Coupe Turbo - 5,334 miles

Vauxhall

Review

##Coupe Turbo--right##QUESTION: what do the BMW M3, Ferrari 360 Modena, Porsche 911 Carrera and Vauxhall Astra Coupe Turbo have in common? Answer: they are all capable of speeds exceeding 150mph.

Hang on a minute, I hear you say. What's a common or garden fleet car like the Astra doing rubbing shoulders with these legendary giants of the motoring world? And on the face of it you would have a point.

For 46 of the 47 different Astra models listed in the range are capable of no more (or no less) than their lower medium sector counterparts. But for one model only - the Coupe Turbo we have on test at present - the magic 150 is attainable, with 2mph to spare!

Quite why Vauxhall badges this car as an Astra is a mystery to me. It may be loosely based on that largely unloved bread-and-butter model but after Bertone had finished giving it a stylish new shape and General Motors had slapped a stonking 2.0-litre turbo powerplant under its bonnet offering 186bhp, there seems to be very little of the original left.

Setting aside the badging mystery for a moment, we are left with a car which has so far delighted all the Fleet News staff who have tested it and has proved an aspiration for those who have not. Regular readers will know by now that although I have just reached my 49th year, it doesn't take a lot for my character to revert to that of an 18-year-old tearaway.

So despite promising myself that I really would be careful with this car and drive it sensibly, I soon found myself pushing the Astra to its limits.

To be fair to the Astra, it is not one of those highly-tuned twitchy affairs that can't be driven sensibly. The turbo starts coming on stream at about 3,200rpm, so keep the revs low and you could just as well be driving a 1.8 LS.

But a quick dab on the throttle sees a response that is little short of startling. 0 - 60mph comes and goes in just seven seconds and the rest depends on how brave you are and how much you value your driving licence. It takes a lot of persuading before that taut body and low profile 215/40 tyres start complaining.

Driving in this fashion, you would expect to see a dismal fuel consumption figure but here again the Astra gives its driver a pleasant surprise. I have yet to see it drop below 30mpg and at present it is hovering at 31.2 mpg.

And in the residual value stakes, the Astra's rarity value ensures a reasonable predicted performance, retaining 32 per cent of price new after three-years/ 60,000-miles.

Although the outside of the Astra reflects its sporting capabilities, the inside is a bit of a letdown. Apart from the seats, which initially feel like two slabs of concrete covered with tablecloths but in fact turn out to be superbly supportive over long distances, the rest of the interior is very much like any other Astra. The money has obviously gone under the bonnet.

I only have two complaints about this car. The first is that the aluminium gearknob feels like a lump of ice on a cold morning and the second is that the windscreen wipers are flimsy in the extreme, leaving half the screen unwiped and only doing a mediocre job on the bits it actually manages to reach. Those gripes apart, this car is a corker.

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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