Vauxhall is in the middle of a powertrain revolution, with 13 new engines due to join the range over the next two years, and the Astra GTC is the latest model to feel the benefit of a powerful new motor under the bonnet thanks to this Vauxhall Astra GTC 1.6 200 Limited Edition.
The introduction of the new ‘Whisper’ diesels have done wonders for the Meriva and the Zafira Tourer MPVs and the brand is hoping this new 197bhp 1.6-litre turbo can do the same thing for sportier petrols cars like the GTC and Cascada.
On paper it certainly seems impressive enough. Producing a considerable 39bhp more than the more expensive 1.4-litre TSI in the VW Scirocco and recording a hot hatch-like 0-60mph time of 7.3 seconds before hitting its 143mph maximum.
In reality though, this new GTC simply never feels as fast as the figures suggest. Press the accelerator expecting an instant response and instead the revs climb only gradually, and you have to really coax it into providing decent acceleration.
It feels like the Astra is simply too heavy to feel as agile or sporty as you would like from a sporty model. On the plus side, that does make it feel very stable and the wide stance and a sophisticated front suspension system from the Insignia VXR mean there is plenty of reassuring grip when the road starts to twist. However the steering gives no real sense of a connection with the front wheels, and you rarely feel encouraged to drive it very fast.
Of course this might not be a priority for all buyers, but refinement definitely will be, and this new GTC falls short in this regard too. The latest Vauxhall diesels are smooth and hushed but this turbo petrol has a surprisingly gruff exhaust note that becomes an intrusive drone if you hold onto the gears too long.
The ride is comfortable though and with spacious back seats and a decent boot the GTC does claw back some credit as a comfortable cruiser. The limited edition model we drove came on stylish 20-inch alloy wheels – but it rode over the few bumps we could find with impressive ease.