Vauxhall's Astra has been an integral part of the British motoring scene for as long as most of us can remember, so it’s easy to think you know the model well.
But get behind the wheel of the latest SRI model with the 160bhp biturbo engine and you soon realise just how wrong you can be.
The most powerful diesel engine available in the new Astra the bi-turbo - as its name suggests - uses two turbochargers, with the second one cutting in as the revs get higher.
The result is a very lively family hatchback with a real kick when you hit the accelerator hard.
But this Astra has another surprise up its sleeve in the shape of a tiny Sport button just in front of the gear shift.
Push this and the biturbo really does live up to its name, with even sharper performance and an even bigger power boost as your right foot hits the metal.
But it’s all very well having plenty of acceleration if you don’t mind paying the penalty of high fuel consumption. For most of us, however, mpg is a vital consideration when buying a car.
And this is where this 1.6 diesel scores. During a week of driving some 300 miles the fuel consumption was never below 60mpg and my highest recorded figure was just over 64mpg. Not bad at all for a car that has sportscar-like zip.
The new Astra is a bit lighter than previous versions which obviously helps with both performance and economy, and a re-designed interior means there will be no complaints when it comes to legroom in the rear.
There are some nice piano black inserts in the dashboard and doors which make it feel more upmarket and this model comes with sports-style front seats to hold you in firmly place on tight corners.
An 8-inch colour touch screen gives you easy access to most on-board features as well as satellite navigation and this car comes with Vauxhall‘s OnStar system so everyone on board has access to wi-fi on the move.
Surprisingly though there are no cup holders in the rear, which will probably annoy a few members of the family.
Externally the Astra now has a sleek, futuristic look to it which definitely dates its predecessor.
It’s a car which is well equipped with features like air conditioning, hill start assist and a special driving assistance pack which uses a forward camera system to give you forward collision alert, traffic sign recognition and lane departure warning.
You can even use a voice recognition system to operate various systems, although oddly with the radio you have to know and say the frequency of the channel you want rather than just saying tune to Radio 4 or Radio 1.
My test car was also fitted with the Luton car maker’s Intellilux LED matrix headlights, an expensive optional extra at £1,250 but well worth it if you do a lot of night driving.
The system cleverly lights the road ahead brilliantly without dazzling oncoming drivers thanks to 32 LEDs, some of which can be switched off - automatically - when necessary.
If you haven’t driven an Astra for a while it’s well worth checking out the biturbo. It impressed me and I’m sure it will impress you too.
Model: Vauxhall SRI Nav CDTI Biturbo
Mechanical: 160 bhp, 1598cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox.
Max speed: 137 mph
0-60mph: 8.1 secs
Combined mpg: 68.9
CO2 emissions: 109g/km
Warranty: 3 years/60,000 miles