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.
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 a bit disappointing though. The turbocharged 1.6 is not smooth or punchy enough and, while the 1.4-litre turbo is more silken, it still suffers top-end boom. Our favourite is actually the diesel, particularly the BiTurbo range-topper. 51mpg VXR, anyone?
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.
Although it is priced keenly, the Astra GTC is still very spec-dependent. SRi is worth the £1,300 extra over Sport, replacing the flat, plain seats with fatter bolstered items. Engines are generally fuel-efficient, particularly the preferable diesel.