Vauxhall Astra GTC vs rivals

The Vauxhall Astra has got sexy at last. But is sleek new GTC the best three-door hatch?

Vauxhall Astra GTC vs rivals

The humble three-door family hatch has undergone a major transformation. Not long ago, these cars were essentially simpler, cheaper versions of their five-door stablemates. Not any more: the latest breed represents something far more desirable.

Now three-door hatches are billed as sporty coupes with a practical edge, and have sleek styling and powerful engines. The old Vauxhall Astra was one of the first to embrace this approach, and the new GTC takes it even further.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Astra GTC

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The five-door Astra is a smart design, but the new three-door puts a sporty slant on Vauxhall’s family hatch. Only the door handles and roof aerial have survived the transition, so it promises a unique look to go with its sharper dynamics. 

Here we test the 2.0 CDTI model, which is expected to account for most UK sales. But buyers after a hatch-based coupe are spoiled for choice, and the Vauxhall faces stiff competition from a pair of established rivals. 

The Volkswagen Scirocco is the current class leader, and in 2.0 TDI guise it’s easy to see why. Adaptive suspension, striking looks and an appealing badge make it the car to beat.

The Renault Megane Coupe is the other big contender. As with the Astra, it looks much racier than its five-door cousin, and the 2.0 dCi diesel GT version promises strong performance at an attractive price. So, is the family coupe class about to get a new champion?

Verdict

Looking to buy a coupe? Then practicality and value usually take a distant second place to head-turning style. If a car has a stunning design, you can overlook the fact that it’s more cramped and expensive than a humble hatchback alternative.

So the good news is that the Astra GTC manages to combine eye-catching style with everyday versatility. Its sleek concept-inspired looks hide a cabin that’s spacious and upmarket. It also delivers a refined and grown-up drive and low running costs.

These talents allow it to easily finish ahead of the Renault. The Megane is neatly styled, fast, fun to drive and well equipped, but it’s let down by its firm ride and less robust build quality. High CO2 emissions further weaken its case.

So, what about the Scirocco? It certainly isn’t as practical as the Vauxhall, and trails on ultimate performance, too. Yet the VW is better to drive, cheaper to run and a stronger long-term investment. 

More importantly, its styling is even more distinctive, despite the fact that the car has been in showrooms here for more than three years. As a result, it takes a deserved victory here.

1. Volkswagen Scirocco

The Scirocco is a familiar face, but its appeal remains undimmed. Helping to set it apart are eye-catching looks and an upmarket cabin, while the sharp chassis makes it great fun to drive. BlueMotion trim gives penny-pinching running costs.

2. Vauxhall astra GTC

If this test was decided on looks alone, the GTC might have taken the win. But it’s much more than just a pretty face – it’s also roomy, well built and refined. The only things holding it back are its higher running costs and lack of driver involvement.

3. Renault Megane

There’s no shame in a third place finish for the Megane. With its sleek looks, agile chassis and an equipment tally to rival an executive car, it’s a strong choice. However, it’s let down by its firm ride and high running costs.

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