It’s a British institution, the Vauxhall Astra, having been built by the company since 1979.

So, 40 years on, how does it measure up?

It’s probably fair to say that Vauxhall went through a period of doing pretty boring cars in the noughties, but these days it is producing some quality stuff.

And, with the company being taken over by Peugeot-Citroen owner PSA a couple of years ago, it will be interesting to see how the brand develops.

For now though Vauxhall continues to have its individual identity and the Astra is a quality motor.

This latest version is set to hit showrooms in November and Vauxhall says it has reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 21 per cent on the outgoing car.

There’s a new range of petrol and diesel engines and a new nine-speed automatic gearbox available too.

The petrols are three-cylinder engines, with either 1.2 or 1.4 displacements, with power between 110ps and 145ps.

The diesel is a 1.5 – again with three cylinders – offering 105ps or 122ps.

The petrols offer on-paper MPG between 46 and 54, while the diesel makes 51 to 64.

We drove the 1.2 petrol with the healthy 145ps output.

It’s a really perky driving and feels quite sporty, belying its small capacity, and it pulls well from low revs too.

Our mpg was in the mid-50s on the cruise, which reflects very well on Vauxhall’s 21 per cent reduction claims, to say the least.

Perky performance – 60mph arrives in 8.8 seconds – combined with our experience of MPG beginning with a ‘5’ make this a really impressive engine.

It’s a neat, tidy and comfortable drive, if not particularly exciting, but either way that engine will make you feel pretty smug.

All cars get decent standard spec, which includes the multimedia navigation system, 8in touch screen, digital radio, Bluetooth, smartphone integration, climate control, heated seats, cruise control, 17in alloys and plenty more.

And inside is where Vauxhall has improved a lot in recent years, too.

Interiors are no longer stale and boring. It feels quality now with a good finish for the most part.

Rear legroom is reasonable and you get a good sized boot as well.

If we’re being harsh then we’d probably say that the Astra lacks the personality of some of its rivals. It’s still a bit of a Steady Eddie.

But it can’t be argued that it’s a quality hatch – and the new engines are excellent.

Prices start at £18,885, while our tester came in at £26,210 including options and costs top out at close to £30,000.