By Mike Torpey on 2020-03-01 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Vauxhall Astra 1.5D
THAT fortune-telling nursery rhyme from the mid-nineteenth century, Monday's Child, declares that Saturday's Child Works Hard For A Living.
Applied to the more modern landscape, and cars in particular, you could reasonable surmise that Vauxhall Astra models were built on a Saturday.
Tough, relentless motorway miles tend to be the staple diet of the Astra, a huge percentage of which operate as part of a company fleet.
But then this model is something of a British institution, with more than three million sold in the UK over the past 40 years including over 30,000 in 2018. In fact more than 25 per cent of British motorists have either owned or driven an Astra.
In this cut-throat automotive world, low running costs and comfort are paramount and we've just spent some time driving a member of the refreshed Astra line-up that perfectly meets this criteria.
While there are countless variants of the new seventh generation Astra and its Sports Tourer stablemate currently up for grabs within a price range of Â£18,000-Â£29,000, models featuring the higher powered 122ps version of the company's 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine make a lot of sense.
It is part of a new line-up of three cylinder petrol and diesel powerplants that, in replacing the old four cylinder units, have cut fuel consumption and lowered emissions by up to 21 per cent.
Of course petrol models are accounting for the lion's share of sales but with CO2 down at just 95g/km and fuel economy at an official 67.3 miles per gallon for those equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox, the oil-burner holds a strong hand.
It's a smooth, relaxing car to drive as well - beautifully engineered and expertly refined to iron out the worst of British road irregularities.
In fact the Astra's chassis has undergone a number of improvements with new dampers providing greater bump control - very noticeable on poor surfaces - while the steering has been re-calibrated to improve handling at higher speeds.
Move inside and there's ample space to accommodate long legs, room for three across the back plus a boot capacity stretching from 370 to 1,210 litres while the rear seats split and fold 60:40.
Useful stowage options like door bins, cup holders, central storage container, seat back pockets and a glove box are also scattered around the interior of a car that overall has a much more upmarket feel than the previous generation.
Safety systems have also been improved so there's now a more powerful digital front camera that recognises pedestrians as well as vehicles, though front and rear parking sensors add Â£480 to the car's price.
But with other useful safety procedures in place, the Astra also boasts a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
Extra cost options like a heated rear windscreen at Â£320,Traffic Sign Recognition and Pedestrian Protection (Â£275), Vauxhall Emergency Call (Â£415) and premium paint like the tested model's Flip Chip Silver at Â£655 can ramp up the tab of course.
Vauxhall Astra 1.5D Elite Nav
Mechanical: 122ps, 1,496cc, 3cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 9.6 seconds
Combined MPG: 67.3
Insurance Group: TBC
C02 emissions: 95g/km
Bik rating: 23%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
Choose from one or more of the options to find the car for you.
Based on your search find the dealership
nearest to you.