Vauxhall Astra 1.0 ecoFLEX Tech Line review:
What is it?
The latest all-new lightweight (down 200kg) Astra, fitted with the smallest petrol engine – a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder Turbo. In business-friendly Tech Line trim.
So its been on a diet, but Vauxhall are also promising us a more engaging drive – but can this work with a supermini-sized three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol? We hit the road to find out.
- Yes, the new Astra looks like an evolution of the last, even though it’s built on an all-new platform, but we really like this latest Vauxhall’s design cues. From the front, the headlights now flow into the grille, plus there’s an assortment of curves on the front airdam. Probably the most adventurous part of the latest Astra’s design can be seen from the side, with the distinctive beltline arching upwards, plus the matching upswept window line, with its neat blacked out area – carrying on to the curvy rear window. The back of the new Astra is identified by the neatly creased boot and those long rear light clusters stretching across it.
- The inside of the new Astra feels equally sharp and is dominated by the easy to operate, eight-inch IntelliLink infotainment screen, which can be activated by touch. Underneath, are the climate controls, while the mixture of analogue and digital instruments are easy to read. Build quality is a match for key rival, the Focus. The driving position is comfortable and the switchgear logically located.
- The Tech Line trim is designed for business and includes the IntelliLink Nav 900 system as standard. Highlights included convenience features such as Apple CarPlay, which can replicate the apps on your iPhone via the touchscreen – one of the first in this sector with this connectivity. Want more connectivity technology? Well, the Astra is also the first new Vauxhall to have OnStar as standard from launch.
- The new Astra’s driving position is comfortable, as are the seats over long distances and the 35mm extra knee room and the fact that despite the curvy roofline, rear headroom is uncompromised, means two passengers will travel easily in the back of this Vauxhall hatch. Boot space is unchanged from the last Astra at 370 litres, but there are clever and practical features, such as the ribbed floor to stop items moving around.
- We had the chance to drive two other versions of the new Astra and we reckon the 1.0-litre was the most fun! Why, well with the lightweight engine and the Astra’s weight loss, this Vauxhall seems even keener to entertain than ever. The steering could be more communicative, the suspension could be stiffer, but for any entry-level version of a family hatch, the way it changes it changes direction is impressive. This engine is matched by a slick five-speed manual transmission, but wish it had six instead.
- Like every other modern, small three-cylinder engine, the 1.0-litre turbo is happy to rev and stays surprisingly smooth right the way through the rev-range. To keep this engine singing, you get to know the five-speed manual transmission very well – good thing it’s a sweet change. With 103bhp, 0-62mph acceleration takes 10.5 seconds and the top speed is 124mph. Yet, according to Vauxhall, this Astra is still capable of 65.7mpg on the Combined cycle and the emissions are just 99g/km, equalling a competitive 14% tax band figure.
- Our Tech Line test car rode on smaller 16-inch wheels and offered a more refined ride , that proved to be the most comfortable of the Astras we drove over some of the potholed roads of the Welsh test route.
- This engine is matched by slick five-speed manual transmission, but wish it had six gears instead for more refinement.
- We’re not sure if it was because we were driving a very early car, but the column stalks of our test car felt quite brittle and not up to the quality of the rest of the interior.
- Vauxhall claim a combined MPG figure of 72.4mpg, but with the keen, revvy nature of this engine, we reckon it will be difficult to replicate these figures in the real world.
Verdict on the Vauxhall Astra 1.0 ecoFLEX Tech Line
Great to drive, more spacious, cheap to run and well-equipped – is there no end to this Astra’s talents? Well yes, as this downsized 1.0-litre petrol feels at home in the new car. The only question mark that hangs over this excellent package, is like every other small three-cylinder petrol engine – will you ever see the claimed fuel figures?
But how does it compare to key rival – the Ford Focus? Closest rival to this 1.0-litre Ecoflex Tech Line, is the 125PS 1.0-litre EcoBoost in Zetec trim. The Astra gets off to a good start by being cheaper by a massive £2,000, the Astra is also better on emissions 102g/km versus the Ford’s 108g/km and falls into the lower 14% tax band versus the Focus’s 16%.
So on figures alone, the Astra in 1.0-litre form, has the Focus beat as far as being the business choice.
Low Down for the Vauxhall Astra 1.0 ecoFLEX Tech Line
|Doors and bodystyle:||Five-door hatch|
|Engine/Gearbox:||1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbo petrol/5-speed manual gearbox|
|CO2 Emissions:||99 g/km|
|0-62mph/top speed:||10.5 secs/124mph|
And what it costs…
|Monthly Business Car Lease ex VAT (10k miles pa, 3+35 payments, non-maintained):||From £N/A|
|Road Tax:||Band A|
|Company Car Tax bands 2015/2016 to 2017/18:||14%, 16%, 18%|
|Benefit in kind 2015/16 to 2017/18:||£2,330, £2,662, £2,995|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%):||£619/£52|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%):||£1,238/£103|
|Annual/Monthly company car tax (20%):||£466/£39|
|Annual/Monthly company car tax (40%):||£932/£78|