Fleet News

Vauxhall Astra DTi ECO4 - 2,557 miles

Vauxhall

Review

A YEAR ago, a member of our advertising staff conducted a rather interesting experiment - he e-mailed everyone in the building and asked them which car they would pick if offered the choice between a Peugeot 306, Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra.

The vast majority of those who responded said they would choose the German contender. And thereby lies Vauxhall's problem. Rightly or wrongly, the Astra is viewed by the hoi polloi as being dull, boring and ordinary - the kind of car you are given by your fleet manager rather than the kind of car you would choose.

To be fair to Vauxhall, it is not the only marque to suffer in this way.

I have heard many a driver deriding the Ford 'Mundane-o' and the Mitsubishi 'Lack of Charisma' - and both these cars are, in my view, quite adequate fleet performers.

But back to the Astra and here we find Vauxhall has a couple of aces up its sleeve in the battle to persuade Britain's drivers that perhaps, after all, they ought to turn their eyes towards Luton when choosing a new vehicle.

The first ace comes in the form of the Astra Coupe Turbo which we have on long term test at present. This little minx does the 0-60mph dash in seven seconds and has a top speed of 152mph. Enough said?

The second ace is the car on test here.

It won't leave a sports car driver spitting fumes and feathers on the motorway like its coupe brother and it won't catch the envious eyes of your neighbours when parked on your driveway.

But your wallet and your bank manager will love it - for its ECO tag means that both in terms of fuel economy and benefit-in-kind tax, this car is a star performer.

Everyone must surely know by now that as from April next year BIK tax will be calculated on list price and CO2 emissions.

As the ECO4 belches out a lowly 119 grams of CO2 per kilometre, the car will be taxed at just 18% of list price (including the wholly unfair 3% diesel supplement) for the first three years of the new system. And at the same time, the ECO4 driver can expect to travel 64.3 miles on every gallon of diesel, against 58.9 for the 'ordinary' 1.7 DTi.

It might not sound much, but over 60,000 miles, with diesel costing £3.53 a gallon, it represents a saving of £302.

Looking at these figures, the Astra takes on a rather different appearance - and I know more drivers who are interested in mpg than ones who rate mph first. So surely it is up to all fleet managers to inform their staff of the economical sense of cars like the ECO4 - after all, most drivers know very little about the vehicles they drive.

Wouldn't it be interesting to conduct the aforesaid experiment again after forcing those taking part in it to read this road test first?

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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