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Vauxhall Astra

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8/10

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Vauxhall Astra GTC 2.0 CDTi

Driven June 2014

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This is the best engine Vauxhall has ever fitted to the GTC. Better even than the VXR engine, and it’s a diesel. It has 295lb ft of torque, 192bhp and hits 62mph in 7.8 seconds. Not fist-bitingly quick, but at least you haven’t compromised on efficiency – 57.7mpg on the combined cycle. Nor is it a let-down in other areas.

That’s largely thanks to the twin-turbo set-up. Under 1,500rpm, a small one does all the work, while from 1,500rpm to 3,000rpm the second, larger one joins in, and above that the smaller one bows out. The net result is almost zero lag, and breathless mid-range pace, all delivered with no more than a distant hum of noise. 

Don’t confuse this for a hot hatch, though. While it’s got sporty tech like HiPerStrut front suspension (Vauxhall’s clever system that irons out understeer), the steering is too slow and the cornering is a touch too baggy. But the pay-off is class-demolishing ride quality. Not only does it beat a Focus now, it’s better than a Scirocco by a country mile.

It’s a damn sight cheaper than the Volkswagen as well. By around £4,000, spec for spec. Admittedly, it falls short on the inside (the cabin’s a tad… bling), but it’s still an excellent thing, made all the better by that engine.

Matt Jones

1956cc, 4cyl diesel, FWD, 192bhp, 295lb ft, 57.7mpg, 129g/km CO2  0–62mph in 7.8secs, 139mph  1496kg  £24,175

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