Driven to Perform: The New Vauxhall Astra GTC Review
The new Vauxhall Astra GTC is not your regular Astra by any means. For one it doesn’t share a single body panel with its ordinary counterparts and offers a driver-focused feel good driving experience in the manner of the old Vauxhall Calibra. Very stylish and fantastic to drive, relatively affordable and geared for day to day practicality, this sporty compact coupe promises to be a winning combination.
Longer and wider with a larger wheelbase, the new Vauxhall Astra GTC defies expectations by exceeding the size of the 5 door hatch that it was based on. The style is a big selling point and barely anything remains of the original Astra parts on this variant. The stance is lower, the track wider and the wheels are larger. The shape of the new Vauxhall Astra GTC is sharp and sporty with a small integrated spoiler and the lights on each end follow a ‘stretched wing’ motif. The boot opens to reveal a cargo space which is 30ltrs bigger than the regular Astra at 380ltrs, which extends to 1165ltrs. This is about 20% more than most of its comparable rivals. The benefits of the large wheelbase are evident in the rear of the car where, for a sports coupe, its class leadingly spacious and comfortable for 2 people. The doors are pretty huge and wing-like so it’s worth keeping in mind for any tight parking shenanigans. The cabin at large is not much different from the conventional Astra hatch, although they have tried to elevate the feel to match the premium price tag a bit with the use of faux aluminium trim. The rear screen is annoyingly smaller though due to the styling so it might be good to specify some rear parking sensors. Once you get used to what everything does, it’s well-built and presented well and will no doubt prove to be a great place to command this vehicle from.
Unlike previous (and somewhat unexciting) attempts at making sporty Astra-based coupes, Vauxhall have again defied expectations by engineering the new Vauxhall Astra GTC to offer genuine driver satisfaction. The steering is sharper, the track wider and the suspension setup has been completely replaced with a clever hyperstrut system. The result is the most delightfully involving drive that Vauxhall have to offer – only the Insignia VXR beats it on turning and power. The ride and handling are so well balanced that you don’t even have to spec it with the Flex-Ride adaptive damping system to get the most enjoyment out of it. If you do spec it with this you will certainly find it enjoyable still.
Beneath the hood, the top of the range 280ps VXR model is the obvious choice for petrol heads wishing to rip up the roadways. However if you can’t stretch to that, then the 180ps 16 valve 1.6ltr petrol turbo model will get certainly get you places with a lovely roary engine note. The mainstream new Vauxhall Astra GTC engines are a bit more sensible. There are two 1.4 petrol units in 120ps and 140ps guises which are zesty enough – the 140ps will get you to 62mph in 9 seconds flat. Diesel will no doubt be popular with a 1.7ltr unit in 110ps and 130ps forms and a 165ps 2.0ltr CDTi, which marshals a potent 350Nm of torque of which is brilliant for overtaking. The diesels are a bit noisy when you get higher up the rev range. The 6-speed manual gearbox is pretty slick, but there is also the option of automatic transmission for the higher end models of the petrol and diesel ranges.
All in all, what’s the lowdown with the new Vauxhall Astra GTC? The new Vauxhall Astra GTC isn’t much pricier than a 3 door hatch, yet its arguably the best drivers choice in its class with great style appeal and a brilliant level of everyday practicality. Surprisingly, it’s not the most obvious choice compared to the fun of a Mini Coupe or a high quality VW Scirocco; but if you don’t try this car out you’d be missing a real trick. It’s great as an everyday performance car that you can feel proud of on your driveway – all at a reasonably affordable price tag.