GTC is unlikely to disappoint

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Vauxhall’s Astra GTC offers couture styling with blue-collar underpinnings.

It’s a great combination. Powerful engines are available, but you don’t necessarily need them for the feel-good sensation that comes with GTC ownership.

It’s a relatively affordable compact coupe that can stand wheel-to-wheel with apparently more exalted rivals - and often come out on top.

Wouldn’t it smarten your driveway? Many potential buyers will think so.

Background

Vauxhall, you know, has quite a performance heritage. From the Prince Henry of 1911 to the fire-breathing Firenza models of the Seventies, the Eighties Chevette HSR rallycars or the Lotus Carlton super saloon, the last century saw plenty for the driving enthusiast to get excited about behind the wheel of something bearing the Griffin badge.

Driving Experience

You could be excused for approaching a drive in this GTC model with rather low expectations. After all, it succeeds a couple of Astra coupe models that were no more exciting to drive than the frumpy five-door hatchbacks they were based upon. And quick glance at the badgework and under the bonnet might suggest that we’re again looking at something similar here. You might think that. Your friends might think that. But you’d both be wrong.New Car Road Test | Vauxhall Astra GTC

Design and Build

You expect a three-door coupe to be smaller than the five-door Hatch it’s likely to be based upon. But that certainly isn’t the case here, this GTC longer and wider than its more ordinary stablemate and featuring a larger wheelbase that explains the remarkable amount of space it can offer for both rear seat passengers and their luggage.

Market and Model

Whichever Astra GTC variant you choose - 1.4-litre or 1.6-litre petrol Turbo, 1.7 or 2.0-litre CDTi diesel or even the 280bhp VXR - you should find it to be reasonably well equipped. Entry-level Sport-trimmed models include most of what you’ll want - air conditioning, a decent quality MP3-compatible CD stereo with Aux-in point and USB functionality, daytime running lights, seat height adjustment and a remote control alarm system.

Cost of Ownership

Day to day running costs are not going to be markedly different from any other Astra model. In fact, when the higher residual values this GTC model will enjoy over a normal Astra hatch come into play, it’s likely that this car will be cheaper to run than its ordinary stablemate.

Fuel economy is also competitive. Regardless of whether you opt for the 120 or 140PS variant, the turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine returns a combined return of 47.1mpg, a figure that falls to 39.2mpg in the 1.6-litre petrol Turbo.

Summary

It would be easy to imagine many potential compact coupe customers not even trying this car, seduced as they might be by the fun of a MINI Coupe, the quality of a Volkswagen Scirocco or the style of a Peugeot RCZ. And that would be a mistake.

Unlike its direct predecessors, this is much, much more than just a three-door Astra Hatch in a dress. In fact, it’s arguably the best handling car in its class, certainly the most practical choice and probably the most affordable too when you take dealer offers into account. None of which would count for very much in this market if this car didn’t also look great. But it does.

It’s true that the interior could be more exciting and that some of the lower-order engines are unremarkable. But then, that’s also true of a number of obvious rivals. Ultimately, if you can get over the issue of buying into an Astra when maybe you’d started your search in this segment with an eye on something with an apparently more desirable badge, then this GTC is unlikely to disappoint. A performance car for the everyday. And a big step forward for Vauxhall.