Vauxhall's shapely new Astra Sports Tourer has got off to the best possible start for the Astra hatchback on which it is based had been awarded the highly coveted European Car of the Year title shortly before the launch of the estate.
This means that the benefits of winning one of the top awards in the world motor industry will also be shared by the Sports Tourer which is identical to the hatchback apart from that large rear load area which is what the estate version is all about.
And after a week with the Sports Tourer it was quite clear that this latest load carrier from Vauxhall which is built at their Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire is going to be a big success and could become the best selling estate in this class where the previous model was in third place.
My test car was the Sports Tourer Tech Line 1.6 110PS ecoFLEX priced at £19,485 on the road which is set to be the most popular model in the range because of its excellent fuel consumption and zero road tax which means extremely low running costs.
The car had the new 1.6-litre "Whisper Diesel" power unit which has a combined fuel consumption figure of 85.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 89g/km that means no road tax to pay - other statistics are a top speed of 121mph and acceleration time of zero to 60mph in 10.6 seconds.
But what really impressed me was the actual real life fuel consumption figure from the test car's outstanding on board computer that was approaching 70mpg which is still a very impressive figure and I wish my own car was so fuel efficient!
The new Astra estate is nearly 200kg lighter than the outgoing model but it is larger inside with more room for front and rear occupants and the large rear load area is extremely accessible through the rear door with an option of a powered tailgate.
With quite light steering and agile handling the Sports Tourer provided enjoyable motoring once I had become used to the rather low driving position and the very sensitive foot brake. I liked the user friendly interior especially the controls and instruments particularly the central touch screen which displayed satellite navigation details and also those for the audio system that was very easy to operate.
A very useful option on the test car was the OnStar system costing £395 which provided information such as the nearest petrol station when running low on fuel or the nearest restaurant and supermarket plus many other facilities.
This latest Sports Tourer is a difficult car to fault and apart from the rather temperamental parking sensors the only feature I would change if I was buying one would be the colour and design of the fabric seating upholstery but that is no problem.
There is no doubt that Vauxhall has produced a new Astra estate that is worthy of becoming the top car in this sector because in every way it is so impressive and a credit to the team at Ellesmere Port responsible for it.
Model: Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer Tech Line 1.6 110PS ecoFLEX.
Engine: 1.6-litre diesel. Output: 110PS.
Transmission: Six speed manual. Top speed: 121mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 60mph 10.6 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 85.6mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 89g/km.
Price: £19,485 on the road.