Power is up nearly 20bhp and torque up 34lb-ft to 169lb-ft at just under 2,000rpm, enough to push the car to 60mph in 11 seconds, 2.5 seconds less than its less powerful sibling, and on to a top speed of 117, 8mph faster than the Di in hatchback form. An estate is also available - a saloon is not planned - which boasts similar performance improvements, but is about half a second slower to 60mph than the hatchback. The Di will still be available on the Envoy, LS, Club and CD models.
Power means little without refinement and thankfully, the Astra has enough soundproofing to shut out much of the diesel's noise, although start-up from cold is noisy and there can be a short wait for the glow-plugs to warm up. The long-legged gearing means the car feels more sedate than it actually is, making for quick progress rather than screaming acceleration.
The car can easily reach motorway speeds while barely touching 3,000rpm. It allowed quiet and relaxed cruising during a test drive to Brugge. When revved, the 16-valve units keeps noise and vibration to a minimum and provides a significant improvement over the already accomplished ECOTEC Di on which it is based, that can become unrefined higher up the rev range. Combined economy is claimed at 49.6mpg and I achieved 46.5mpg without really trying, so the target is within easy reach. Prices are expected to start about the £15,500 mark.