DRIVING along any road with your headlights on full beam usually results in motorists coming towards you flashing their lights furiously.
But Vauxhall's latest version of the Astra has a system which allows you to drive permanently on main beam without making you a potential road rage victim.
IntelliLux LED Matrix headlights with adaptive, glare-free permanent high-beam lamps might be an expensive optional extra at a whisker under £1,000 but they do ensure a well illuminated road ahead with no aggro.
On a dimly lit country road the lights will put a vivid spread of light to ensure clear vision. But as soon as another car comes along the lights will adapt to the situation.
Using input from the front-mounted camera to detect the light source from a vehicle approaching or immediately ahead, IntelliLux automatically deactivates individual LEDs in parts of the headlamp which could blind other drivers. So you get a clear vision of the road ahead but with other cars completely eliminated from the beam as the light bends around them.
The Matrix headlights are just one of a number of innovations on the latest, seventh generation, Vauxhall Astra which is leaps and bounds ahead of the car it replaces.
Now in its 36th year on our roads the new Astra has finally come of age ensuring that a vehicle which was once looked upon as more as a company car is now highly desirable among private motorists.
Smaller on the outside yet with more space inside the new generation is also some 200kg lighter, which might go some way to explaining the exceptional fuel consumption.
The 1.6-litre SRI Nav CDTI averaged just over 64 miles per gallon over seven days of mixed routes. Not quite up to the official Vauxhall figure but still pretty good for such a lively car, which has another bonus of road tax at just £20pa.
The new, well sculptured body is visually very appealing while still retaining the obvious Astra look.
Inside everything is well put together and feels solid, comfortable yet functional - although the lack of rear cup holders did engender a few negative comments from back seat travellers.
On the road I found the 136bhp engine, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox was torquey enough to give all the flexible power needed combined with respectable acceleration.
The ride is very comfortable and the car is well mannered on fast bends and corners.
And a bonus of SRI spec is that it comes with Vauxhall's new OnStar system as standard.
By pressing a button near the interior mirror the system connects you to an operator who will give you details of everything from a suitable restaurant in the area you are in to a personalised, downloadable route - via your sat nav - to wherever you might want to go.