Many company car parks sport line-ups of rather sensible Vauxhall Astras but now there is a special addition that adds some real sparkle to the range.

The Ultimate trim level aims to deliver what it says on the tin with improvements to luxury and noticeably technology to create the best-equipped Astra yet built, to help it fight its corner against stiff competition.

No one much under the age of 40 will be able to remember a world without the Astra.

Its origins go back to 1979 as a British version of the Opel Kadett and by 1981 it was being produced in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, which still produces the hatch and sports tourer versions.

Despite its longevity, the car that is now in its seventh generation remains one of Vauxhall’s best sellers and was voted European Car of the Year just two years ago.

The Ultimate trim model has a price tag that starts at about £25,000 and builds on the previous range flagship the Elite Nav, with the addition of LED matrix headlights and an advanced satellite navigation system linked to live traffic information.

The headlights – with eight LEDs on each side of the vehicle – automatically and constantly adapt the length and distribution of the light beam, without glare for oncoming traffic.

Equally impressive is the driving assistance pack that uses a forward-facing camera system. The camera powers a number of the safety systems including forward collision alert, traffic sign recognition, following distance indicator and lane departure warning with lane assist.

Much of the buzz on the car driven here came from the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that is the most powerful on offer with Ultimate trim.

Delivering 200 horsepower and linked to a slick six-speed manual gearbox, it adds some proper pizazz to travelling, with its ability to overtake swiftly and safely and also cruise in comfort adding some real engagement to the Astra driving experience.

You will need to be a bit of a car nerd to spot an Astra Ultimate, as it bears no external badging clue to give away its special status, though it does ride on a set of 18-inch bi-colour alloy wheels and has twin exhausts and LED rear lights.

Upgrades inside the car include perforated leather seat trim, driver and passenger ergonomic sport seats with cushion extensions and tinted rear windows.

The Ultimate trim also includes a parking pack, which comes with advanced park assist, rear view camera and side blind spot alert and the infotainment system can be operated by touch-screen, remote controls on the steering wheel and voice recognition. It also allows operation of a smartphone’s voice-control system, such as Siri or Google, as it is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Other engine choices for the Ultimate include a 1.4-litre, 150 horsepower petrol engine with both manual and automatic transmission, and a 160 horsepower 1.6-litre Bi-Turbo manual diesel engine.

And although you will struggle to persuade your boss to let you drive an Ultimate trim model, for diehard Astra fans there is a new star in the range.

Auto facts

Model: Vauxhall Astra Ultimate 1.6i

Price: £29,895 as tested

Insurance group: 24E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 45.6mpg

Top speed: 146mph

Length: 437cm/171.6in

Width: 181cm/71.2in

Luggage capacity: 13 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 10.5 gallons/48 litres

CO2 emissions: 142g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles