And if Vauxhall which is part of the General Motors empire do take over the UK’s top spot from Ford they will be even more formidable when the new engines which have been downsized for more power and improved fuel consumption and emissions are in most of their cars.
In fact the new diesel engines are so smooth and quiet that one leading motoring journalist on the launch of a new Vauxhall car complained that he had been given a petrol engined model instead of a diesel by mistake!
The engine which incorporates start/stop technology is Vauxhall’s cleanest diesel power unit in the company’s 110-years history and is the first in a new family of cutting edge four cylinder diesel units.
The company is also launching new second generation five and six speed gearboxes and by the end of this year they will also launch a new three cylinder small displacement petrol engine family to further consolidate their position in the UK market.
I sampled the new clean 1.6-litre CDTi diesel engine in a brief test drive in the seven seater Zafira Tourer MPV where it proved to be a real smoothy and it is easy to confuse the oil burner with a petrol engine because there is virtually no difference especially when accelerating.
In fact I would say that most motorists trying a Vauxhall vehicle with the new diesel engine which is arguably the quietest in this market sector would not be able to tell whether it was a diesel or petrol engine under the bonnet.
And not only was the engine so quiet it was also lively with plenty of pulling power which is another feature of the 136PS power unit that offers a combined fuel consumption of 68.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 109g/km with a zero to 62mph time of 10.4 seconds.
Prices for the latest Zafira Tourer 1.6 CDTi start from ?23,175 for the Tech Line model and company car drivers can also save over ?900 in running costs over a three year period versus the 2.0 CDTi ecoFLEX model.
The latest Zafira which takes styling cues from the Insignia has newly developed Flex7 seating with over 30 storage spaces in the cabin and up to 1,860 litres of total load volume and there is a bicycle carrier that holds up to four bikes.
Focused on meeting a growing customer demand for down sized engines offering strong power with improved fuel consumption and emissions the new range of engines are being progressively introduced across the Vauxhall product range and by 2016 80 per cent of the company’s engine portfolio will have been renewed.
There is no doubt after my drive in the Zafira Tourer that the new engine is very impressive and within two years the engines should have helped Vauxhall achieve their ambition of becoming the UK’s No 1 motor manufacturer.
My Verdict: An engine to drive Vauxhall to the top.
Model: Vauxhall Zafira Tourer.
Power unit: New 1.6-litre diesel.
Transmission: New automatic.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 10.4 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 68.9 combined.
CO2 emissions: 109g/km.
Price: Zafira Tourer from ?23,175.