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Vauxhall Astra ecoFLEX

The latest Astra ecoFLEX comes with energy recuperation and adaptive aerodynamics technology

Vauxhall has further reduced the emissions of its Astra ecoFLEX to just 99 g/km CO2, equating to 76.3 mpg.

The latest Astra ecoFLEX uses technology such as energy recuperation and adaptive aerodynamics.

The car is now exempt from the London Congestion Charge, as well as enjoying zero VED (Vehicle Excise Duty), inclusion in the lowest 13 per cent BIK (Benefit in Kind) tax band, and 100 per cent capital allowance for businesses.

The 1.7 CDTi diesel engine still has 130 PS of power (5 PS up on the current highest output 1.7 CDTi) and 300 Nm of torque.

The new Astra ecoFLEX 1.7 CDTi 130 PS produces emissions 20 g/km less than the Astra 1.7 CDTi 125 PS – a 17 per cent reduction, largely due an all-new engine management system, allowing a reduced compression ratio, and a new fuel injection system with eight injections per cycle at 1800 bar. A new variable geometry turbocharger also provides even greater boost-pressure control.

Friction reductions have been applied to piston rings, tappets and piston pins, while sensors in the low-pressure glow plugs enable more accurate combustion control. To help the engine reach its operating temperature quickly from cold – normally a highly inefficient phase – an oil-cooler bypass has been introduced.

The Astra ecoFLEX 1.7 CDTi 130PS is fitted with a friction-reduced six-speed gearbox that has been tuned to work with the new version of the engine. A shift-indicator between the speedometer and rev-counter shows drivers the best time to change up, while a graphic-assist function helps adopt the most fuel-efficient driving style.

For the first time on a Vauxhall ecoFLEX model, an energy-recuperation system has been introduced. When the driver takes his/her foot off the throttle, or applies the brakes, kinetic energy is collected and stored in the battery, allowing the alternator to shut down when there is sufficient charge to run ancillaries. In addition, a clutch activates the air conditioning compressor only when it’s needed. Standard LED daytime running lights also reduce energy consumption.

Aerodynamics play a significant role in the new Astra ecoFLEX’s reduced emissions. As well as being fitted with low rolling resistance tyres (a choice of 215/60 x 16 or 225/50 x 17 sizes), there is an active aero-shutter in the radiator grille, which automatically reacts to different vehicle speeds and loads to aid efficiency. The grille remains open at low speeds, or where more throttle load is required – such as when driving up hills – but closes at higher cruising speeds where less throttle is needed. As a result, air is diverted around, rather than through, the grille, improving the car’s aerodynamics.

Completing the Astra ecoFLEX’s aero armoury is a ride height which has been reduced by 12mm, creating less wind resistance at speed.

Already available on the 1.3 and 2.0 CDTi versions of the Astra ecoFLEX (as well as low-CO2 versions of the Corsa and Insignia) this is the first time the 1.7 CDTi engine has been fitted with Start/Stop technology. The system automatically shuts down the engine when neutral is engaged and the clutch pedal released, reducing fuel consumption and emissions. To re-start the engine, the driver simply engages first gear and moves away. A high-performance battery ensures the electric system’s reliability at all times, and the system can be deactivated altogether via a centre-console-mounted ‘eco’ switch.

In showrooms from late this year, with pricing to be announced shortly, the Astra ecoFLEX 1.7 CDTi 130PS comes in three trims: Exclusiv, SE and SRi.