While my Mini long-termer was at the workshop for a fault with its keyless remote (Fleet News, March 5) I had the chance to drive the Astra.
The first thing that struck me was that, while the 1.6-litre diesel engine is named the ‘whisper diesel’, it is not the quietest model I have driven.
However, the important factor for fleet operators is that emissions are improved, with our model emitting 110g/km. Emissions start at 97g/km for the 110hp version.
The Astra’s official combined mpg is 67 but, during the few days that I drove it, the average was 45.1mpg – more than 20mpg below the official figure. While my driving was limited to short, urban journeys the figure I achieved is not untypical. In the six months it has been on our fleet, the best fuel economy has been 47mpg.
But on the plus side, the Astra’s supportive seats are very comfortable – an important factor for company car drivers doing high mileages. And there were a number of interior touches which I appreciated, such as the red LED light, which pinpoints exactly what speed you’re doing and the thumbwheels that control some of the media functions, which are easier to use than buttons.