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Ford Focus vs Vauxhall Astra twin test

  • ECOnetic technology on the Ford produces impressive CO2 emissions
  • £600 difference in P11d values
  • Astra's lengthy standard kit list offers value for money
  • Both top sellers in the fleet world, we pit the Vauxhall Astra 1.7 CDTi EcoFLEX TechLine against the Ford Focus 1.6TDCi ECOnetic Edge.

Ford and Vauxhall, the two heavyweights of the company car world, accounted for over a quarter of total fleet sales in the UK in 2012, the Focus and Astra models playing a huge part in their success.

There’s only £600 difference in list prices, so the models are well-matched when it comes to price too. Stop/Start is standard on both and the ECOnetic technology on the Ford gives 88g/km while the Astra just undercuts the 100g/km threshold at 99g/km. BIK banding is 13% and 14% respectively. 

What does this mean for the company car driver?

For a 20% tax payer the Focus will cost you £40 per month while the Astra will cost you £45.

When it comes to economy, the Focus outstrips the Astra’s combined figure of 76.3mpg by some margin with a combined figure of 83.1mpg, so you’ll spend less time - and money - at the pumps.

Vauxhall has its TechLine trim aimed specifically at company users though, with sat-nav, a seven-inch colour screen, 17-inch alloy wheels, premium audio with DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity some of the standard spec highlights.

If you want the same in the Focus Edge, you’ll need to spend some extra money on the various option packs – which will increase your monthly costs considerably. If your budget will stretch to it, however, the Focus Zetec - for only £500 more than the Edge - includes Bluetooth, DAB radio and USB connections. Sat-nav still needs to be added on top though, and the change to 16-inch alloy wheels increases CO2 emissions to 99g/km in line with the Astra.

There are more bonus points for the Astra in terms of practicality, its 351-litre boot proving more spacious than the 316-litre offering found on the Focus, though both cars have a similarly sized cabin.

How do the two cars compare performance-wise?

With 109bhp, the 1.7 CDTi EcoFLEX engine delivers a top speed of 118mph and a 0-62mph time of 11.8 seconds. Not to be beaten, the Focus, despite offering slightly less power at 104bhp, has a top speed of 116mph and an identical 0-62mph time.

Our experience with the latest Astra highlighted the ride quality as one of the car’s standout features, though the Focus is more fun to drive. Looks are subjective, but in our opinion the Focus is the more interesting car and interior quality appears fractionally better.

And the winner is...

Both cars, and their predecessors, have proven to be popular choices for company car drivers and the gap between the pair remains small. If value for money is your primary concern then the Astra Techline, with its lengthy standard kit list, should be your choice. As an all-rounder that promises low-running costs plus an enjoyable steer come the weekend, however, the Ford Focus is the winner of this test.