AT the beginning of this year, we announced our SME Company Car of the Year winners.
The overall winner was the Vauxhall Astra – in Tech Line 1.6CDTi 110PS ecoFLEX S/S trim – as well as winning the Best Value Company Car title.
Now these awards are judged not by us, or other journalists, but professionals operating in the SME sector, from the heads of car leasing companies to taxation experts.
So they have a hard-headed view of these cars. And as much as the Audi A4 was superb and the Jaguar F-Pace irresistible, the overall winner was the more mainstream Astra.
SME Company Car of the Year Awards 2017: Check out the winners here
Good. A family car. A business car. An affordable company car.
Now, among the Astra’s many attributes are brilliantly low running costs. Whether that’s for you Mr SME business owner; or you Mr SME company car driver in terms of company car tax.
It’s a car that excels in keeping the pounds in your pocket – or stuck to the bottom line.
But the one thing I would urge you to consider is an additional £405 to add OnStar to our winner – the Astra Tech Line 1.6CDTi 110PS ecoFLEX S/S model.
OnStar is your personal assistant in the car. The delivery driver was enthusing about when the car arrived. “It’s brilliant,” he said.
Not wrong, there.
There are three buttons in the roof lining: one for emergency SOS; one for calling the concierge service; and the other if you want privacy. It also comes with 4G wifi by the way, so you (for business) and the kids (at the weekend) can log on with a variety of mobile devices.
When we were hosting the Leasing Broker Federation Golf tournament at Woburn golf course it brought a chance to test the OnStar.
Push the middle button.
OnStar: “Hello, how can I help?”
Me: “Hi, I’d like to go to Woburn golf course please.”
OnStar: “No problem. Wait a moment. There you go sir, it’s downloading onto the satnav. Anything else I can help you with?”
Me: “No, that’s perfect.”
So easy! No trying to enter destinations in the sat nav (which is very good by the way); get someone to do it for you. Automatically. All you have to do is push the ‘Go’ button on the satnav.
There are other really good business reasons to fit OnStar. If a warning light comes up on the dash, you can discuss how serious is the issue and the action to be taken. OnStar even sends a monthly update on the vehicle condition (oil, when a service is due, and so on).
It’s also useful if your car is stolen in helping it locate the vehicle again.
And should the worst happen, such as you are involved in an accident, OnStar can alert the emergency services.
OnStar is standard across the Vauxhall range on:
- Mokka X
- Zafira Tourer
Then it’s also standard on the following trims:
- Viva – SL
- Adam – Slam / Rocks / S
- Corsa – Limited Edition / SE / Elite / VXR
- Astra – SRi / Elite
- Meriva – SE
- Insignia – Elite / VXR
Enough about OnStar. What’s the car like to drive?
Relaxingly long-legged on the motorway, the Astra TechLine has a stated fuel economy figure of 85.6mpg, although my average for the time I was in the car was 56.2mpg – a combination of motorway, A-road blasting and local driving. A bit disappointing, but I reckon I could get it over 60mpg with a bit more time at the wheel. And regular motorway users will easily achieve that.
Apart from the technology, the other stand-out feature of the Astra was the way it drives.
Vauxhalls have a reputation for being a bit stodgy in the twisty bits, but the new Astra – the lightweight Astra – rides and glides over bumps and roundabouts with real enterprise, engagement and accuracy.
Should an Astra drive like this? I repeated the exercise to make sure… and it was. The same. And same grin on my face. You’ll appreciate the car’s fine dymamics as much as you will the OnStar system.
Gripes? The brakes have a long travel and they can be grabby; more progression would be nice.
The standard 16 inch alloys could look a little more special, although they are cleverly designed to avoid the worse kerb scrapers out there (again another plus point for SME business car managers).
But that’s about it.
What you get here is a cracking car for a really good value for money price. With OnStar (£405) and front/rear parking sensors, this SME Company Car of the Year will set you back just £20,140 on the road.
No wonder it’s our SME Company Car of the Year.
What to do next?
- Find out how much the Astra will cost in company car tax
- Discover how much the Astra will cost to lease
- Work out your ideal Astra with our price and options calculator