General Motors UK unit Vauxhall is the latest to introduce an ‘eco’ car with low CO2 emissions of 119g/km, placing it into the lowest tax band for company car drivers and second-lowest for annual ‘road tax’.

The C-segment Astra ecoFLEX has a 1.7-litre turbodiesel engine with fuel consumption of 62.8mpg on the official EU test combined cycle.

The engine develops 110PS, 10PS more than the the existing Astra 1.7 CDTi, and 260Nm of torque at 2000rpm.

Engineers wrung out extra efficiency by fitting a taller axle ratio, optimising the engine management system and reducing idle speed.

Kerb weight was reduced 30kg and aerodynamics improved by lowering the suspension, modifying the front air intakes and fitting a drag-reducing lower engine compartment panel.

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Engineers also reduced the power steering pump’s idle speed and fitted low rolling-resistance, 15-inch tyres (16-inch optional).

The new model is available in three- and five-door hatchback plus wagon versions.

Hans Demant, GME’s engineering vice president, said: “At General Motors Europe, environmental consciousness means offering clever technological innovations at affordable prices, making them accessible to as many customers as possible. The Astra ecoFLEX is the newest example of our strategy and directly addresses the needs of buyers in high-volume sectors.”

In 2009, Vauxhall will introduce two further ecoFLEX models: a 109g/km B-segment Corsa 1.3 CDTi with combined mpg of nearly 69mpg, and a low-emissions version of the new, Vectra-replacing D-segment Insignia.