Vauxhall launches the Astra ecoFlex

Click for high-resolution pictures of the Astra ecoFlex

GM's brand in the United Kingdom, Vauxhall, has launched the Astra Ecoflex version. As with the array of green signatures created by all European automakers (see: Bluemotion, Ecomotive, Eco2, Airdream...), the Vaxuhall Ecoflex takes a standard Astra, and greens up the base diesel engine while adding tweaks to the car to lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. The good news is that the engineers not only managed to get the 1.7 CDTi engine to produce only 119 g/km of CO2 while keeping mileage at 62.8mpg Imperial (52.3mpg U.S. or 4.5 l/100 km) but they increased the engine's power from 100 to 110hp. Other improvements include a 30kg (66 pound) reduction in kerb weight, lowered suspension to improve aerodynamics, modification of the front air intakes and a drag-reducing lower engine compartment panel. Engineers also reduced the power steering pump's idle speed and fitted low rolling-resistance tires. Prices start at £16,340.

Vauxhall is preparing two additional ecoFlex models for 2009: a 109g/km Corsa 1.3 CDTi good for nearly 69mpg Imperial (57mpg U.S. or 4.1 l/100 km), and a low-emissions version of the new Insignia sedan. Full press release after the jump.

[Source: Vauxhall]



* CO2 emissions of 119g/km mean lowest tax band for company car drivers
* Power output increase over current Astra 1.7 CDTi
* Most economical Astra in range

Luton. Vauxhall has launched its first Astra ecoFLEX with a 1.7 turbo-diesel engine producing CO2 emissions of just 119g/km and fuel consumption of 62.8mpg on the combined cycle.

The new model, which will be available in Hatch, Sport Hatch and estate guises, falls into the lowest BIK tax band for company car drivers, while private buyers will only pay £35 per year in Vehicle Excise Duty thanks to its band B credentials.

But the Astra 1.7 CDTi ecoFLEX has not sacrificed driver involvement to go green. Its engine produces 110PS, an increase of 10PS over the existing Astra 1.7 CDTi, and 260Nm of torque at 2000rpm, enough to power the ecoFLEX to a top speed of 117mph.

Vauxhall's engineers have achieved extra efficiency from the Astra's 1.7 CDTi drivetrain by fitting a taller axle ratio, optimising the engine management system and reducing the engine's idle speed.

In addition, ecoFLEX's kerbweight has been reduced by 30kgs, while aerodynamics have been improved by lowering the suspension, modifying the front air intakes and fitting a drag-reducing lower engine compartment panel. Engineers also reduced the power steering pump's idle speed and fitted low rolling-resistance, 15-inch tyres (16-inch optional).

Hans Demant, GME's Engineering Vice President, summed up Vauxhall's commitment to further reducing fuel consumption and emissions in cars with conventional internal combustion engines: "At General Motors Europe, environmental consciousness means offering clever technological innovations at affordable prices, making them accessible to as many customers as possible. The Astra ecoFLEX is the newest example of our strategy and directly addresses the needs of buyers in high-volume sectors."

Five door Hatch versions of the Astra ecoFLEX are on sale now at a starting price for the Life (a/c) model of £16,340. Prices and availability of the Sport Hatch and estate models are still to be announced.

In 2009, Vauxhall will introduce two further ecoFLEX models: a 109g/km Corsa 1.3 CDTi with combined mpg of nearly 69mpg, and a low-emissions version of the Insignia which is set to make a stir in the mid-size sector.

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