Vauxhall Astra GTC review
The stunning three-door Vauxhall Astra GTC comes with heavily revised suspension and a range of powerful engines
Developed as a completely separate model, the Vauxhall Astra GTC is designed to take on rivals like the Volkswagen Scirocco and Renault Megane coupe, with striking looks and a much sharper drive than the standard car. Only one body type is available - a three door hatch – and the GTC gets a bespoke suspension setup borrowed from the Insignia VXR to help improve handling. Four engines are offered, two petrol and two diesel, three of which come with stop-start as standard to help lower emissions.
Our choice: Astra GTC 2.0 CDTi SRi 3dr
The GTC was first revealed as a concept back in 2010 at the Paris Motor show, and the production model has kept almost all of the show car's curvaceous styling. Apart from the door handles and the roof, every panel on the GTC is different from the standard five-door hatch, and optional 19 and 20-inch wheels boost its kerbside appeal. Inside, things are a little more mundane. Entry-level ‘Sport’ trim is very well equipped, but too similar to the standard car. The SRi version gets proper sports seats, a leather steering wheel, and brushed aluminium effect centre console which helps make it feel more special, although it’s not as well built as rivals like the VW Scirocco.
The Astra GTC comes equipped with four of the most potent engines in the line-up, two petrol and two diesel. Power outputs range from the modest 109bhp 1.7-litre diesel to a rapid 178bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol. All feel fairly quick, but you have to work the gearbox hard to make decent forward progress in the lower powered variants. The gear change and steering both have a reassuringly weighty feel, and because the GTC has a wider track, lower suspension and bespoke VXR-style struts at the front, it feels planted and grippy on demanding roads. The standard steering setup lacks consistency, and could use more feedback, but the optional FlexRide damping system – when set in sport mode – improves things.
Although the suspension and stylish bodywork is new, the Astra GTC’s engines and gearboxes have all been tried and tested in the standard hatch, and no major problems have been reported so far. Vauxhall’s reputation for reliability is improving with each new model it produces, and the interior feels well built. A wide variety of safety features are fitted as standard, including ESP, electronic brake distribution, six airbags and SRi models get hill start assist too. Key optional extras include rear parking sensors and adaptive cornering headlights. It achieved the full five-star rating when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP, with an impressive 91 per cent in the adult occupant category.
Most coupes sacrifice some of their practicality in favour of sleeker styling, but the Astra GTC proves you can have both. Despite the steeply curved roofline, all-round visibility is excellent and there’s far more legroom for passengers in the back than the major rivals. It’s a similar story in the boot, which at 380 litres is much bigger than the VW Scirocco’s, and with the seats folded down this increases to 1165 litres. The high loading lip is the only niggle, but the GTC is certainly roomier than you expect for a stylish three-door, and comfortably more practical than its competitors.
Apart from the most powerful turbo petrol model, all Astra GTCs come with stop-start systems fitted as standard to help save fuel. That means that all of its engines are surprisingly efficient. The 2.0-litre CDTi diesel gives the best compromise between efficiency and performance, and is capable of returning 57.6mpg and emitting just 129g/km. The petrol and automatic versions are predictably less efficient, but the cleanest diesel emits just 119g/km – making it an excellent choice for fleet buyers. Other running costs should be fairly manageable, but if you go for the bigger wheels then replacement tyres may be pricer than you expect.