Jul 19 2009 John Connor
Vauxhall flexes eco credentials
WHEN automotive engineers first considered the mass production of environmentally friendly vehicles they were accused of being OTT. Opponents said that such ideas were little short of being a pipe dream.
But Vauxhall seems to have attained the impossible with the launch of a series of ecoFLEX models which are quite definitely green performers with long distance credentials.
Take the 1.7 CDTi, 16 valve, Astra Design, for example, it returns 72.4mpg on the extra urban cycle and has the potential to cover more than 600 miles from full to empty.
The more diminutive 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX Corsa, at £11,810, is even better when it comes to frugal use of fuel with 85.6mpg being quoted as the official extra urban figure or even a claimed 70.6 on average.
Both models have their own buyer appeal. And it comes down purely to personal taste which one get the nod.
I preferred the larger Astra due to its roomier interior, its ability to swallow up to 1,265 litres of luggage, and its top speed of 117mph.
Over a journey of some 50 miles on urban roads I managed to achieve 47.9mpg and quickly learned that having a light touch on the accelerator pedal really helped the wallet as the fuel gauge hardly moved.
With a price tag of £19,145 this innovative eco star is very well packaged with air conditioning, full size curtain airbags, front an side airbags, anti-locking brakes and steering wheel mounted controls all appearing on the standard fitment list.
Sat on alloys and featuring a comfortable cabin with deep seats and trendy facisa design touches, this Astra is going to be a wow with the fleet buyers.
I feel it will also prove to be a hit with the retail buyer for its urban fuel return is 50.4mpg and its CO2 emission rating is 119g/km.
On the open road it is a steady runner, quiet and responsive. It is in effect a bit like ones favourite coat - comfortable and reassuring.
Generations of Astras following this model will have a hard act to follow. It has set a new benchmark in performance and is just about one of the most complete cars of its kind.
But then the EcoFLEX Corsa has plenty of strengths. Whilst it is more compact than the Astra it is just as comfortable inside and its specification is equal to that of its bigger brother.
Its luggage capacity of 1,100 litres is creditable and its urban driving figure of 54.3mpg is fine.
With a top speed of 105mph the 1.3 CDTi unit is lively enough to reach 60mph in 13.5 seconds and its CO2 emissions are 105g/km.
This Corsa is the ideal town car and, whilst it shines on city streets, it still has long distance potential.
Its interior is comfortable and its engine powerful enough to tempt me to take it for a spin across Europe.
Like the Astra it behaves in a grown up way on the roads and will almost certainly help to increase Vauxhall's market share whenever environmental issues and frugal fuel use are considered by motorists looking for a green package with lots of get up and go.