Fleet News

Vauxhall Astra 2.0T SRi

Vauxhall

Review

SO the VXR220 Turbo isn’t a car in which a company car driver could hack thousands of miles on motorways each year.

For a start, the samples would need to be strapped to the roof as the briefcase would take up the only real storage area – the passenger seat.

So what to choose instead? This 2.0-litre turbocharged Astra would be the more rational choice. The engine is not as highly strung and it has the advantage of windscreen wipers that work. And it has a radio.

But that’s not to say that this Astra is some grey, anonymous repmobile. For a start, it looks great, with its deep bumpers, sharp creases and chunky five-spoke alloys.

Inside, the impression of quality continues. The new Ford Focus certainly has better quality materials in the cabin than the Astra – and the Golf and any other lower-medium hatch you care to mention – but the Vauxhall’s plastics are a vast improvement on the old one.

And, in the black and silver trim, it has a big advantage over its rivals, the C4 excepted, and that is character. The Astra’s funky cabin is a really nice place to be, with all the switches and dials grouped logically and easy to use.

The steering wheel, with its exaggerated mouldings ideally positioned to fit the driver’s hands, gives the feeling the instant you get in that Vauxhall has paid close attention to the driving aspect of the car.

That might sound obvious, but plenty of cars in the volume sectors give the impression they are built down to a price and designed purely to carry you about, rather than get you involved.

The engine is also designed for involvement. Four-cylinder turbocharged engines are never the most evocative units as the sound they produce is often pretty harsh, but it gets the job done and it feels quicker than its 170bhp might suggest.

Part of that might be down to the fact that, once the turbo spools up, the acceleration comes in a short, sharp hit in each gear.

Channelling the torque through the front wheels is never an easy process as the flashing of various traction lights show, but once there is grip the Astra feels quick, albeit in a slightly manic way.

It hasn’t got anywhere near the front-end grip of the adhesive and more powerful Golf GTi, but it is fun nevertheless.

While the Golf GTi is at least £2,000 more expensive, its strong residuals mean monthly contract hire rates would only be £20-30 higher a month.

The Astra doesn’t fare too badly on predicted future values, with CAP reckoning it will keep about 34-35% of its value after three years/60,000 miles. SRi-badged Vauxhalls have always had a very trusty following on the used market and this car should not be any different.

A driver opting for this car will find that emissions are fairly high at 216g/km of CO2, and it would be worth looking at the 150bhp 1.9 CDTi SRi, which with emissions of 157g/km works out more than £400 less in BIK tax a year at £712 for a 22% taxpayer.

That’s quite a saving for what is a marginally slower car.

That said, it’s a reflection of the strength of the Astra range these days that there’s such a mouthwatering choice, and strong engines in strong cars that suit all tastes and pockets is why this car won a Fleet News Award recently.

In Astras such as the 2.0 T SRi, Vauxhall has produced a volume car with real soul.

It’s a watered-down version of the attitude taken with the VXR, but it is an approach that still hits the spot.

FACT FILE

Engine (cc): 2.0 Turbo Sri
Max power (bhp/rpm): 170/5,200
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 184/1,950
Max speed (mph): 135
0-62mph (sec): 8.1
Fuel consumption (mpg): 31.4
CO2 emissions (g/km): 216
Fuel tank capacity (l/gal): 52/11.4
Transmission: 6-sp
Service interval (miles): 20,000
On sale: Now
Price (OTR): £17,495

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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