My dog-owning sister-in-law eyed up the Vauxhall on the road and said: "They are bit like Labradors, aren't they?"
What she meant is that they are even-tempered, inoffensive and you see them everywhere you look.
That's an impressive combination, whether we are talking family dog or the transport in which it travels.
The new Astra Sports Tourer, priced from £16,585 on-the-road, has similar dimensions outside to the outgoing model, but is bigger inside and up to 190kg lighter.
The slimmer, sleeker model has also delivered a serious boost for British workers in the North West, with a long-term production contract that has secured 2,000 jobs into the next decade at the Ellesmere Port plant where 52 per cent of production is exported to 25 European markets.
The Astra is a long-standing fleet favourite and part of the appeal to company car drivers, apart from the more obvious draw of economy and competitive tax bills, is a leap in the technology available. That is led by the OnStar system that provides a range of safety and security features and creates a Wi-Fi hotspot to give 4G connectivity for up to seven devices. At the touch of a button, OnStar operators can provide information about points of interest and send a route to the car on request. The system can also be set up to send information about impending mechanical problems to an owner’s local dealer, and provide tracking information for stolen cars.
A 'driving assistance' pack uses a windscreen-mounted camera system to deliver everything from lane departure warning with lane assist, and traffic sign recognition, to forward collision alert with automatic city emergency braking.
In case of a potential collision, the collision alert feature warns the driver with a loud audible alarm, a visual warning in the instrument cluster and an LED projection on the windscreen, before automatically braking the car.
The Sport Tourer also brings IntelliLux LED matrix headlights to the compact segment. The computer-controlled lights automatically dim and brighten the LEDs in the headlights, which allows you to leave them permanently on full beam without dazzling oncoming drivers.
The level of equipment available is high with electronic dual-zone climate control, rain-sensitive windscreen wipers, automatic lighting control with tunnel detection, automatic anti-dazzle rear-view mirror, electrically-folding door mirrors and electric parking brake.
SRi Nav models come with an eight-inch colour touch-screen with a Europe-wide sat nav system.
For the first time on a Vauxhall, the tailgate can be opened without a touch or a remote control. Available as an option, in combination with “keyless entry and start” a simple small kicking motion under the rear bumper is enough to open the tailgate. A further kicking motion under the bumper will close the tailgate. The clever system can detect any obstruction and stops the mechanism in case of an emergency. The tailgate can still be opened by a switch on the driver’s side of the car or via the key’s remote control.
Power comes from a wide range of engines from a high-performance, 200 horsepower turbocharged petrol unit, to the 110 horsepower diesel that Vauxhall says can deliver 83.1mpg.
The Sports Tourer takes as its starting point the European Car of the Year and then adds a little extra. The result, like a Labrador, is easy-going, reliable and immensely capable. Small wonder it is so popular.

Auto facts
Model: Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer SRi CDTi
Price: £21,735
Insurance group: 12
Fuel consumption (Combined): 74.3mpg
Top speed: 121mph
Length: 470.2cm/185.2in
Width: 180.9cm/71.2in
Luggage capacity: 19 cu ft
Fuel tank capacity: 10.5 gallons/48 litres
CO2 emissions: 99g/km
Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles