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The Top Gear car review: Vauxhall Astra GTC

£27,215
7/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Stunning looks matched by a great drive

Against: 

Engines don't yet match the rest of it, A-pillars are too intrusive
The Astra GTC boosts Vauxhall’s credibility no end, as it’s really well executed - simple as that.

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Our choice

Vauxhall

2.0 CDTi 16V SRi 3dr

£23,125
N/A
59mpg
8.40s
165bhp
127g/km

What we say: 

With the Astra GTC Coupe, Vauxhall offers a stellar combination of looks and drivability

What is it?

Why has Vauxhall put so much effort into the totally bespoke-look Astra GTC coupe? Because lots are going to be sold: around 20,000 a year in the UK alone. As there’s now no three-door Ford Focus (something Vauxhall finds hard to conceal its delight about), a huge opportunity exists for the Astra GTC to cash in. Basically, Vauxhall’s aim is to deliver a genuine coupe look and experience despite being derived from the practical Astra five-door: a car to go head-to-head with the VW Scirocco and Hyundai Veloster. Style matters, and, boy, does the GTC deliver. Clean, sleek and perfectly proportioned, it looks great. It literally shares only the doorhandles and roof aerial with the five-door Astra.

Although it’s based on the Delta platform used by regular Astras, it gets front suspension from the Insignia VXR. And it’s this that makes the Astra VXR hot hatch, tested elsewhere, so good.

Driving

Despite sharing basic underpinnings with the five-door Astra, Vauxhall has been just as fully occupied with the engineering of the GTC. It is lower, the wheelbase is longer and track widths both front and rear are up. The key feature is that HiPerStrut front suspension, which reduces torque steer and steering corruption. It all works. Every GTC drives very professionally, with ride and handling judged well enough to render the optional FlexRide adaptive suspension unnecessary. A stiff chassis helps it glide where others might thump, and it feels very agile, responsive and light on its feet. It’s better than you’d credit, certainly better than a Focus.

The engines are disappointing though. The turbocharged 1.6 is not smooth or punchy enough and, while the 1.4-litre turbo is more silken, it stiff suffers top-end boom. Our favourite is actually the 2.0-litre diesel: just don’t think the 1.7-litre versions are a lower-priced match for it. They’re not.

On the inside

The cabin design isn’t as bold as the exterior, drawing heavily from the five-door. But that’s not a disaster as it’s still a sporty, solid design, and Vauxhall has given it a coupe feel by sitting occupants low and framing their vision with intrusive A-pillars.

The boot is an ample 380 litres and rear seats are surprisingly spacious (even if the view out is restrictive). Clever work has created a genuinely practical and roomy interior despite the exterior style.

Owning

Although it is priced keenly, the Astra GTC is still very spec-dependent. SRi is worth the £1,225 extra over Sport, replacing the flat, plain seats with fatter bolstered items. Engines are generally fuel-efficient, particularly the preferable diesel.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
2.0T 16V VXR 3dr
6.0s 184g/km 36.2 280 £27,215
The cheapest
2.0T 16V VXR 3dr
6.0s 184g/km 36.2 280 £27,215
The greenest
2.0T 16V VXR 3dr
6.0s 184g/km 36.2 280 £27,215

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

6/10

Peugeot RCZ

£27,265£32,050
How about a Peugeot RCZ? Vastly more stylish...