Current mileage: 10,960miles
Claimed economy: 62.8mpg
Actual economy: 47.9mpg
We’ve been so busy enjoying the Astra that at just 11,000-miles, the service light has come on, advising that the car needs an oil change. I must admit that our handsome Sports Tourer is feeling like it’s in need of a little TLC – although the engine is smooth as it ever was, and appears to be using no oil at all, there are a few clonks and rattles coming from the suspension that leave me wondering whether we might have a worn bush somewhere.
But having said that, the Astra still drives as well as it ever did. With sharp steering, a lovely gearchange and excellent driving position, it’s definitely the driver’s choice in its sector, despite the 1.7-litre ECOTEC engine’s laggy on/off nature, and rather dead brake pedal.
Just how effective the Astra’s dynamics are were proven to us on a recent trip to France. The car was acting as back-up car on a magazine photo shoot. We were tracking a Ferrari Daytona in northern France, and ended up covering rather a lot of distance in the pursuit of the perfect backdrop for our drive story. After a 500-mile day, the Ferrari’s interior was hot, its engine was beginning to complain about the temperature, and its driver tired (albeit elated).
Following in the Astra, photographer and I were still fresh, and ready for another few hours behind the wheel. However, it was on the second day of the shoot, that the Astra played another blinder – with pretty much all the photos done, and a ferry to catch, we up the pace, hit the A-roads, and create an unlikely two-car convoy. And here’s the thing – with the Ferrari owner pushing reasonably quickly (as much as he dares in the wet), we easily keep up. And in fact, at times, it feels like we’re being held-up.
Of course, I’m not claiming my 110bhp Astra can outrun a 174mph Ferrari that was once the fastest car you could buy new, but on a streaming day – with end of job fatigue kicking in – the Astra’s sheer dependability breeds confidence. While the Ferrari and its old tyres breed caution in any sensible driver. And if nothing else, clearly shows how far cars have moved on since the early-‘70s.
The Ferrari Daytona, which is worth well over £150,000 does have plenty of aces up its sleeve, though – not least all the attention it creates, and the amazing soundtrack its V12 screams through its exhaust. Given a straight choice, I think I’d still rather go for the Italian!
Still, I can’t wait to see how much better the Astra will feel once it’s had some serious attention in the service bay…
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.