An all new family of high-performance engines, some of the most efficient chassis mods and a bit of trimming and hardware upgrades make sense to sharpen the Astra's appeal. You might be surprised to hear that F1 racer Lance Walks is mulling buying an Opel Astra. This is Astra stock showroom, not BTCC's racer, nor even VXR's. If he buys one, he will add to the collection of cars he has raced in his career to date that are in his home country. Why the desire for "Astra"? Because this is the car that race coach Rob Wilson uses to coach Indycar, DTM, NASCAR, WRC and the World Endurance Drivers Championship in Brantingthorpe Airfield in Leicestershire. The Walk is one of many top flight drivers who have used Wilson's services, and considers Vauxhall part of his driving history. Wilson says he loves Astra's 'balance handling' too. If Walk did not place an order, it would do well to make it to this latest facelifted version, a chassis revision that works especially well with a 143bhp version of its brand new 1.2 three-cylinder turbo engine that is shorter. New engines, petrol and diesel, This is big news for the Astra facelift, work on these new motors is already well underway when Vauxhall and Opel were part of the common Motors empire. Despite the PSA having its own line of engines, it saw the program through, resulting in two new families of all-alloy petrol and diesel triples. At 1.2s with 108bhp, 128bhp and 143bhp, their CO2 and fuel consumption are identical, confirming that these differences are only achieved through software changes and not modifications to the engines themselves. These two overhead camshaft diesel triples are all direct injection with variable valve timing, particularly low internal friction and are claimed to provide good throttle transient response. There's also a torquier 143bhp 1.4 petrol turbo triple, with balance shafts that only comes with the new 9-speed torque converter automatic transmission, this transmission is also available with the 120bhp 1.5 diesel. Like this diesel and the 103bhp version are unusual for delivering less power than their 108bhp and 134bhp parent unit. But all of these engines comply with Euro6d emissions standards, and result in a reduction in CO2 emissions of as much as 21%. That's big news for fleets that buy about 80% of the Astras, in 103bhp diesel dropping six Bic groups up to 23% - with a benefit lower than for an equivalent focus and golf – resulting in a 107 g/km to 95 g/km CO2 drop. After all, these new diesels meet RDE2, a four percent Bic surcharge too to be avoided. The engine itself is lighter than the previous version - a plastic intake manifold helps - and an electrically controlled variable-vane turbo to build momentum more quickly. According to Vauxhall, the lower hatch is actually faster to 60 mph than its predecessor, at 10,0sec rather than 10.7sec, but the 122bhp version is expectedly slower, needing 9,6sec than the previous 9.0sec sprint. That's the price of improved fuel efficiency. Upgrades in other areas are less significant, but include revised spring rates, damper and bushing rates and retuned steering that will hone agility and a smooth ride, as well as a series of aerodynamic improvements aimed at improving economy; there is still in the center on those. There are also changes to the front bumper molding noticeable only to the design department that sculpted it, a more useful option, LED matrix headlights and a few interior fettlings. They include an updated infotainment system, each of the three systems offered is compatible with Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay, and a top-notch Navi Pro providing an eight-inch screen over the standard seven inches, plus voice commands. Improved rear and forward vision, the latter is capable of detecting pedestrians, and an ergonomic driver's seat with massage and ventilation is good news for high mileage. These pound roads can also tick box the new heated windshield option, something Ford buyers have been able to do for over a decade.