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Vauxhall Astra 1.6CDTI 136 2014 Road Test

The Vauxhall Astra 1.6CDTI has a chain cam, exhaust manifold in head 1,598cc engine that’s remarkably similar to the Renault 1.6DCI found under the bonnets of Scenics, Meganes, Qashqais and now Mercedes C Class.

The turbo is bolted straight onto the cylinder head and, though the DPF is vertical in the Vauxhall and horizontal in the Merc, it all appears to be familiar EU6 technology.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6CDTI Engine

Like the Mercedes, the engine can get down to under 100g/km CO2 but only in 110PS output. The 136PS version driven here comes in at 110g/km and, with the 235/40 R19 tyres fitted to the test car, emits 110g/km.

This seems to be quite a tall engine, precluding the use of an extensive sound deadening cover. In fact, the turbo is so close to the bonnet, a heat-shield is required to stop the paint on the bonnet from blistering. As in the Mercedes, it isn’t quiet.

And because it’s almost as heavy as the C-Class, performance is very similar: 0-60 in 9.3 and a top speed of 125 compared to 9.4 and 135mph for the Merc.

To my eye, the Astra is a very pretty car, particularly in red. I confess to being a fan of the Mark Adams Astra range styling, particularly the GTC that to me looks like a motor show concept car that somehow made it into production.

Vauxha Astra 1.6CDTI Side

So, 9 out of 10 for looks.

The first day I had the car I had no problem with the satnav. But in the second day a notice came up on the screen asking me to read the instructions and “agree” to terms and conditions of use.

It’s not touch screen. So how did I agree?

RTFM. The instructions were almost impenetrable, but eventually I discovered that to “agree” I had to press the outer wheel of the knob that works the satnav. Who’d have ever thought of that? So congratulations to Vauxhall for making the system so counter intuitive that reading the instructions is compulsory.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6CDTI Satnav Screen

2 out of 10 for satnav user friendliness.

But the car itself drives fine. Nice steering. Plenty of torque. Good gear ratios and decent gearshift to take full advantage of it. Not overgeared at about 37.5mph per 1,000rpm in 6th.

And it gets better. Someone at Vauxhall is nuts about 19” wheels. Years ago, a Vectra diesel I had for a week came on them. And you’ve guessed it, so did this Astra.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6CDTI 19 Inch Wheel

The 235/40 Continental Contisport 3 R19 tyres roar like a cuckolded husband and also raise the CO2 (happily in this case from 104g/km to 110g/km, so don’t put the tax up).

But they stick like contact adhesive. Combined with the fairly soft Watts Linkage suspension of the Astra, the grip is extraordinary both in the wet and in the dry. And, to the tyres enormous credit, they ride well on broken surfaces too absorbing all kinds of ruts, bumps and potholes. (I can’t tell you how long they will last.)

So the Astra 1.6CDTI 136 is certainly a fun drive.

8 out of 10 for the driving experience.

It’s comfortable over distances, confirmed by two 300 mile runs. But, of course, there’s a penalty for all that grippy rubber between the wheels and the road.

The best I got on the dash meter was 56.9mpg over 289.9 miles at an average speed of 56.5mph. But, compared to other cars, the odometer slightly under-read. My standard 300 mile run put the under-read at 3%. Getting the calculator out, 495 miles on the odo used 44.77 litres, which is 9.84 gallons, so 50.3mpg. But factoring in the under read makes 510 miles and 51.8mpg.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6CTDI 56.9mpg

I don’t know who’d been using it before. Over a total of 2977.5 miles at an average speed of 42.3mph, the metered consumption was 46.5mpg. While the ECDC combined figure is 67.3mpg.

6 out of 10 for economy.

If you want bling in the wheelarches and fun on the corners, you’ll probably get close to what I got.

If you want to improve the economy slightly, stick with the standard 17” wheels and tyres.

And if you want to improve it a lot, go for the 110PS engine and the standard 15” wheels. Then you will probably better 60mpg.

I originally tested the Astra 1.4T when it was originally launched, and you can read all about that here.

Then the Astra Sport Tourer, which you can read about here.

VXR GTC here. And Bi-Turbo diesel here.

The bad news is that the Astra is about to get a restyle to make it look more like the Adam and the facelifted Corsa.

So if, like me, you admire the Mark Adams look, you’d better rush out and buy one before they mess it up.

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