Amid Brexit furore, RAY MASSEY flies flag with an early drive of smart and frugal new British-built Vauxhall Astra
Amid all the Brexit furore, I have been flying the flag with an early drive of the smart and frugal new British-built Vauxhall Astra.
It’s the 8th generation of the popular family and company car hatchback, marking 40 years since the first Astra Mk 1 was launched in 1979 — and more than three million Astras have been sold in the UK since then, including 30,000 last year.
It remains Vauxhall’s second-biggest seller after the Corsa super-mini, and bosses reckon that improvements to engines, a 200kg weight loss, and sleeker aerodynamics make it the most fuel-efficient Astra ever.
Sleek: The new Vauxhall Astra is smart and fuel efficient
With order books now open in time for the new September ’69’ plate, and prices ranging from £18,885 to £29,310, it’ll be on show at the Frankfurt Motor Show in just over a week’s time.
Full production starts at Cheshire’s Ellesmere Port factory in October, in time for the first UK deliveries in mid-November.
There is a choice of petrol and diesel engines — all of them frugal three-cylinder versions — offering a saving on fuel consumption and emissions of up to 21 per cent. And I had a go in most of them.
About 85 per cent of sales are expected to be petrol.
Petrol engines on offer comprise a new 1.2-litre three-cylinder Turbo in three levels of power — 110, 130 and 145 horse-power (PS) — all linked to a six-speed manual gearbox and achieving fuel economy of up to 54.3mpg, with low emissions of just 99g per km.
In a ‘green’ eco-driving challenge I managed 58mpg, but was one of the worst performers, with some rivals achieving around 10mpg more.
There’s also a willing 1.4-litre, 145 horse-power Turbo petrol linked to a continuously variable CVT automatic gearbox. The diesel option is a smooth 1.5-litre Turbo D with 105 horse-power, linked to a six-speed manual, or a more powerful 122hp model with the option of manual or a smooth new nine-speed automatic gearbox.
This auto-diesel has a top speed of 127mph, and sufficient acceleration from rest to 60mph in ten seconds. With a base price of £26,500, it is a smart package.
AUF WIEDERSEHEN TO CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE
Time to say ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ this week to one of the most controversial figures in the modern motor industry — former Volkswagen and Porsche boss Ferdinand Piech.
Piech was the grandson, through his mother, of Ferdinand Porsche, who created the VW Beetle for Hitler and set up the German sports car firm that bears his name.
‘Machiavellian’ operator: Austrian-born Ferdinand Piech expanded the VW empire from the 1990s
Known as a ‘Machiavellian’ operator, Austrian-born Piech expanded the VW empire from the 1990s, which now includes Audi, Britain’s Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Porsche.
He was later implicated in the VW ‘dieselgate’ scandal. VW said Piech had ‘written automotive history’.
However, most of the eulogies fail to mention that much of VW’s post-war success was made possible by British occupying forces and the work of Major Ivan Hirst, who saved the firm by putting the VW Beetle back into production before handing the company back to German control.
LAND ROVER’S NEW GENERATION DEFENDER HAS COVER BLOWN
Oh dear, 007. How could you let the secret out?
Land Rover’s top-secret new generation Defender has had its cover blown, having been spotted for the first time (without disguise) on the set of the new James Bond movie No Time To Die, starring Daniel Craig — just over a week ahead of its official unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Shaken but not stirred: The leaked image of the rufty-tufty 4X4 was posted on Instagram
The leaked image of the rufty-tufty 4X4 was posted on Instagram. Until now, the new 4X4 has been ‘undercover’, and seen only with a camouflage disguise which hid its main features.
But the latest shot shows the chunky off-roader’s front grille headlights and air-intake, with its Defender name visible and the tell-tale protective treadplates on either side of the bonnet.
Priced from £40,000, the new Defender will be on sale after Frankfurt.