Fleet News

Vauxhall Astra 1.7 DTi LS ECO4 9,385 miles

Vauxhall

Review

A close encounter with a multi-storey car park resulted in a sizable scrape on the Astra's nearside front bumper - a nuisance in itself but also an ideal excuse to try a 'smart' repair.

The results were better than we could have hoped, thanks to Flying Colours, part of the Dent Wizard group. Flying Colours repaired the damage in our office car park in a little over an hour, despite pouring rain. What would have cost several hundreds of pounds in a pukka bodyshop came to just £50 plus VAT, a total of £58.75 - money extremely well spent judging by the results.

It really is hard to tell the bumper has been repaired at all such is the paint match and the quality of the repair in general.

Repairing small damage such as this will pay dividends at disposal time: the difference between a CAP 'Clean' valuation and 'Average' can be as much as £700 which can have serious implications on returns at disposal time.

Other than this, there is once again little to report on the Astra.

It continues to provide impressive economy - well over 60mpg on average - at the expense of performance. With just 74bhp, the ECO4 is no roadburner with a top speed of 109mph and 0–60mph time of 13.5secs. In fact, the limited overtaking capability can be quite tiring on a long journey as it requires so much forward-thinking before a manoeuvre.

But to look at this Astra as a drivers' car is to miss the point of ECO4. The rational reasons for purchase - CO2 emissions among the lowest of any car at just 119g/km which will give significant BIK tax and Class 1A NIC advantages under the new emissions-based rules, and combined economy of 64.3mpg - will dramatically reduce fleet fuel bills.

But the ECO4's advantages in this respect look to be short-lived as the introduction of highly efficient new diesels from, particularly, Peugeot and Volkswagen mean there are plenty of more powerful rivals which will undercut the lowest qualifying tax thresholds for the next three years and return a more rewarding driving experience. Cars such as the Peugeot 307 LX HDi (90bhp), with CO2 emissions of 138g/km and combined consumption of 54.3mpg, offer a lot more power with only a modest fuel consumption penalty, while the Golf TDI PD 100 (146g/km and 52.3mpg) is more powerful still. Both offer a more desirable package for only a few hundred pounds more.

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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