Marketing experts have long held opposing views about the value of domestic manufacture as an aid to clinching fleet supply deals.
But Vauxhall has every reason to regard a Made in Britain sticker as a positive factor after having to introduce extra-shift working to cope with demand for one of its latest model ranges.
Additional manpower has boosted hourly output to 47 Astra Sport Tourers, hatchbacks and vans from the lines at the company’s bustling Ellesmere Port factory in Cheshire.
That adds up to 700 vehicles a day - mostly Sport Tourers, given that Ellesmere is the only Opel-Vauxhall manufacturing centre worldwide for the slinky new model that brings style to compact-class workhorse motoring.
Instead of going to a dealer, Fleet News went to Ellesmere to collect a factory-fresh example of the car that is remarkably handsome from any angle.
Low, wide and with a sporting appearance, the Astra looks worlds apart from its predecessor and is making a handsome contribution to Vauxhall’s UK market share as well as winning vital new business for GM in Germany and Italy.
Finished in striking shade of red, our version has the 123bhp version of the 1.7 diesel engine that offers 119g/km emissions with claimed economy of 62.8mpg. All Sport Tourers come with ESP, six airbags, air conditioning, daytime running lights and front electric windows, but range-topping SRi trim means our car sits on uprated suspension with a lower ride height, and boasts sports front seats, a multi-function steering wheel, on-board computer, illuminated vanity mirrors, iPod connectivity, power-heated mirrors and a centre armrest.
After a few hundred miles, test economy is falling dramatically short of the claimed figure, but though closer manufacturing tolerances have generally put an end to ‘running-in’ regimes, our car’s motor still has a tight feel. Time will tell.