Vauxhall’s best-selling model range is getting even better, with the introduction of a new range of engines and some visual changes to further enhance its reputation for stylish design and driving excitement.

The 2007 Astra arrives at showrooms in January, and features new front and rear light lenses, a revised front bumper, extra chrome detailing on the grille and the option of smart piano black or matt chrome interior detailing, while Sport Hatch models get a new honeycomb-style front grille to mark them out as the sportier models in the range.

But the biggest changes are under the bonnet, as the latest model brings with it two state-of-the-art engines that offer fuel economy and CO2 emissions benefits, as well as increased performance.

Those wanting to experience the Astra’s driving excitement to the full have the option of a thrilling new 1.6-litre turbo engine, which replaces the 170PS 2.0-litre unit. Offered in Sport Hatch, 5-dr and estate Astras, it develops 180PS and an impressive 230Nm of torque. The new unit gives flagship models the ability to sprint from 0-60mph in just 7.8 seconds (5-dr hatch), and a top speed of 137mph, making it quicker than the outgoing 2.0-litre car.

But the increased performance doesn’t come at a price. In fact, far from it, as the 1.6-litre car is both more economical and cleaner than the model it replaces. It posts a combined fuel economy figure of 36.7mpg – a 16 per cent improvement – while the CO2 emissions drop from 216g/km to 185g/km, at the same time moving the car from the 30 per cent company car tax band to the 24 per cent band, saving company car drivers up to £758 a year in BIK tax. There’s a bonus, too, for retail buyers, as the annual cost of road tax is reduced from £190 a year to £150 a year to reflect the car’s cleaner credentials.

The current 1.6 TWINPORT engine is also replaced by a revised unit, with power increased from 105PS to 115PS. Available in Sport Hatch, 5-door, TwinTop and estate versions of Astra, the powerplant reduces CO2 emissions from 158g/km to 156g/km (Sport Hatch and 5-dr), and from 166g/km to 158g/km on estates, meaning a saving of up to £25 on road tax, and a company car BIK benefit of up to £109 a year.

As well as having greater performance, with a 0-60mph time of 10.9 seconds and a top speed of 119mph (compared to 11.5 seconds and 115mph for the outgoing 1.6), the new unit is more economical, returning 43.5mpg on the combined cycle – an improvement of four per cent over the old unit.

Prices for the 1.6 TWINPORT models start at £13,515 on-the-road for the 1.6i Life 5-dr model, while 1.6 Turbo variants begin at £18,200 for the SRi Sport Hatch. Prices on other models across the range are increased by £15.