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Vauxhall Astra 1.7 DTi ECO4 LS



##Eco4--right##YOU would think that after developing a car with such clear benefits for company car drivers, Vauxhall would be shouting about it from the rooftops.

But the introduction to the Vauxhall line-up of the Astra 1.7 DTi ECO4 LS was not heralded by trumpets blaring and advertisements proclaiming its fuel miserliness and environment-friendly low emissions.

Based on a standard Astra turbodiesel hatchback in LS trim, the ECO4 offers lower emissions (119g/km against 130g/km) and combined fuel economy of 64.3mpg - 38% better than the standard Astra DTi at 58.9mpg.

Both models cost the same (£13,050 on-the-road), although the ECO4 has a slightly better residual value forecast with CAP Monitor predicting it will retain 32% of price new after three-years/ 60,000-miles, against the standard DTi's 31%.

Power is the same for both engines, although the 74bhp in the ECO4 is reached at higher revs thanks to changes in the gearing to reduce emissions and increase fuel economy. However, this does have a downside because the ECO4 is not as nice to drive as the standard DTi - the shorter gearing means you are changing gear much more often in the ECO4, rather than riding the torque in the DTi.

But this car is not about driving dynamics. The ECO4 is focused on being one of the cleanest cars on the market and its fuel economy figure will make pleasant reading for fleets wanting to control their spiralling fuel bills. We have been running an ECO4 for about three weeks now and have averaged nearly 60mpg, despite the engine only having a few hundred under miles under its wheels.

And initial impressions are good - the Astra is a well-known name and sight on Britain's roads and in LS trim you get some bells and whistles, although specification is hardly lavish. Standard equipment includes the patented pedal release system in event of an accident, air conditioning, remote control central locking with deadlocks and radio cassette player.

Also included are electric front windows, rake and reach adjustable steering wheel and height-adjustable driver's seat to allow you to find the optimum driving position. But the ECO4's biggest selling point is its low emissions and excellent combined fuel economy - something that will save a high mileage driver hundreds of pounds at the pumps over the typical fleet lifecycle.

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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