The Vauxhall Astra GTC is on sale now and it’s remained faithful to the original concept design shown last year.
Aimed squarely at the likes of the Volkswagen Scirocco and Renault Megane coupe, the GTC is the third model to be built on the new Astra’s Delta platform and fills the need for a 3-door hatchback. Sorry, I forgot you can’t use that phrase these days – just like the Megane the GTC is another one of those ‘coupes’ based on a five-door hatchback.
The GTC moniker applies to the 3-door range as a whole and is not a trim level, and neither is it the new name for the VXR model. It’s the same idea as used on the previous gen Astra, where the 3-door was called the SportBack.
While the GTC clearly looks like the other Astra models, appearances can be deceptive – with the exception of the door handles and roof aerial there’s nothing in common between the GTC and its siblings. All body panels are new, the wheelbase has been lengthened by 10mm, the track is wider (40mm at the front and 30mm rear) and the car sits 15mm lower. As well improved stability, the changes to the track and wheelbase also allow the Astra GTC to wear optional 20-inch wheels, although what effect these will have on ride and steering feel remains to be seen.
The handling of the Astra GTC has been tuned for a performance feel and has been thoroughly tested in Britain, so it should retain its composure on our weather-ravaged roads. One interesting note is that all GTC models get the new High Performance Strut (HiPerStrut) from the Insignia VXR in place of the usual McPherson struts, promising improved ride and handling, less torque steer and more traction out of corners.
There are two trim levels to start with – Sport and SRI – and a choice of four engines. There are two 1.4-litre turbos offering 120PS and 140PS, while a 1.6-litre turbo ups the ante to 180PS. For derv fans there is a single diesel engine, a 2.0-litre CDTi with 165PS.
Prices start at £18,495 for the 120PS 1.4 Sport, while the diesel SRI tops the list at £22,430. Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, DAB stereo and USB functionality on the Sport while the SRI adds tinted glass, onboard computer, leather-trimmed steering wheel and fog lamps. The latest generation Bi-Xenon Advanced Forward Lighting (AFL), which offers nine separate light beams, is optional across the range.
There’s also a range of new colours for the GTC to set the car apart from the rest of the Astra range, including the interesting shade of yellow you can see in the publicity photos.
So the big question is ‘where’s the VXR’? The good news is that there will eventually be an Astra GTC VXR model with a 2.0-litre turbcharged petrol engine that should be good for around 300bhp. The bad news is that we’ve got to wait until next year.
Oh, and as far as I’m concerned it’s still a three door hatchback. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr Marketing Man.