£19,070 - £30,830 Price range
36 - 68 MPG
The Vauxhall Astra GTC is the more stylish, three-door version of the Astra. It was made to challenge the accomplished VW Scirocco, but the SEAT Leon SC and Kia Pro Cee’d GT are also worthy alternatives.
The interior design is a bit bland and uninteresting particularly when compared to the new five-door Astra. The number of buttons on the centre console may have been a point of pride in the 90s, but nowadays all of the rivals use a simple touchscreen for most controls.
Practicality on the other hand is surprisingly good for a two-door coupe – there’s plenty of passenger room and the boot is bigger than in the five-door model.
The GTC is up there with the best in class in terms of agility and grip. Still, the overall balance tends to tip towards comfort, but with the optional adaptive dampers set to Sport, the GTC is sure to bring a smile to your face.
The 1.6-litre petrol is good, but falls behind the rivals’ 1.6-litre models on pulling power and running costs. However, the 2.0-litre bi-turbodiesel is a strong performer and doesn’t use too much fuel.
Entry-level GTC models come with essentials such as air-conditioning, cruise control and a USB connection for the DAB digital radio, but rivals offer more kit in their basic models.
Check out our Vauxhall Astra GTC colours guide to see what shades best suit.
Sporty coupes are more about handling and performance than anything else, but it’s important for the interior to be enticing and give hints towards the sporty intentions of the car.
Unfortunately several testers are disappointed that the GTC. The sea of buttons can also be a little confusing. The good news is that, if this doesn’t really bother you, it’ll last a long time as it looks well built. In fact, overall interior quality levels are good.
Vauxhall Astra GTC passenger space
The front seats are comfortable, supportive and offer plenty of adjustment so anyone can find a good driving position in the GTC. The panoramic windscreen provides great visibility, while the small windows make you feel like you’re sitting lower than you actually are for a sporty feel.
The rear space available for the larger passenger is also good compared to rivals. In the GTC there’s plenty of space for four adults on long journeys and even five if they are good friends.
Vauxhall Astra GTC boot space
Luggage space is also good – the GTC has a generous 370 litre boot. That is around 30 litres more than what you get in the five-door and is also more than either the VW Scirocco (312 litres) or the Renault Megane Coupe (377 litres). The SEAT Leon SC has the same capacity as the GTC, but has a lower loading lip and a wider opening – increasing practicality.
A few steering tweaks and a suspension set-up borrowed from the Vauxhall Insignia VXR means the GTC is a sporty drive and it gets praise from the critics. Vauxhall has tuned the GTC for UK’s roads specifically, and reviewers have said that this is evident.
There’s plenty of grip, and even though the steering could provide more feedback, the FlexRide system improves things when in Sport mode. The payoff is a compromised ride quality, though. Even on huge 20-inch wheels, the ride quality is controlled and balanced perfectly being sporty and comfortable.
There is a good amount of engines to choose from – two turbocharged petrols and two turbo diesels. They aren’t class leading in any way but have decent performance and low running costs.
Vauxhall Astra GTC petrol engines
The petrol options include a 1.4-litre turbo with either 118hp or 138hp, both of which need to be worked hard to make progress, and a 1.6-litre turbo that, from 2014, has nearly 200hp and offers excellent performance (0-62mph in 7.9 seconds) and over 50mpg if driven carefully. Annual road tax will be between £130 and £180 depending on the engine you choose.
For those feeling a bit naughty there is a 280hp 2.0-litre petrol mounted in the VXR version that is anything except boring. Despite the massive power there is very little torque-steer thanks to an inexplicably complicated front suspension system that is called HiPerStrut. A 0-62mph time in less than six seconds should be enough of an incentive to go to your nearest Vauxhall showroom and test drive the VXR.
Vauxhall Astra GTC diesel engines
The turbo diesels aren’t the most lively options in the market but are generally refined and very economical. The pick of the range is probably the 2.0-litre CDTi producing just under 170hp – it has plenty of torque, can build speed quickly and is good for nearly 60mpg. Road tax will be cheaper for the diesels ranging from £20 for the least powerful 1.6-litre to £129 a year for the most powerful 2.0-litre.
Reviewers advise avoiding the lowest powered 1.4-litre petrol and 1.7-litre diesel as they are both a little underpowered and do not suit the car’s sporty nature.
So far there's only one review of the 1.4T SRi, but it's very positive. Despite the critic driving the more expensive and more powerful engines, he reckoned that this was the most fun. As soon as more reviews for this engines come out we'll add them, so come back soon!
1.6-litres sounds a bit tame for a sports coupe, but slap a turbocharger on there and you’ve got 177bhp going to the front wheels, so there’s more than enough performance on tap. Testers say the engine feels strong and smooth, and is happy revving all the way to the red line via its smooth six-speed manual gearbox.
Fuel economy lags is similar to its nearest competitor, Volkswagen’s 1.4 TSI Scirocco (which manages 42mpg), but you should still see 39.2mpg combined if the figures are to be believed. Even so, that isn’t too bad for a car that can crack 60mph in around 8 seconds and go on to 137mph.
Some critics have complaints about the noise the engine makes as it goes about its work, not least at the upper rev range where power tails away. It’s much better at a cruise and you’re better off using the strong torque at lower revs for overtaking anyway. Throttle response improves in the car’s “sport” mode, so keen drivers should find plenty to like.
Beneath the Essex spec’ bodykit is a serious performer, like a chav who got six As at A-Level. The VXR boasts a mechanical limited-slip differential - some competitors use electronic setups - and the company’s new HiPer strut front suspension (which can also be found fitted to some Insignias), that has been designed to limit torque steer*. Unusually, Vauxhall’s given the VXR hydraulically operated power steering in an attempt to bestow the hatch with more feel than its rivals (even Porsche use electronic systems nowadays…). Whether the engineering and tech’ involved in its development warrants its high price tag (£27k before options), is a matter on which critics are divided.
0-62mph takes 5.9 seconds, and the top speed is 155mph. Vauxhall claimed a combined MPG figure of 34.9, and CO2 emissions of 189g/km.
Broadly speaking, Vauxhall’s efforts have not been in vain. Of the available reviews, the majority laud its everyday usability and refinement. The previous incarnation of the VXR was a car you wrestled down the road, say the testers, whereas the new model feels much more manageable. The ride is firm in any of the three suspension modes, but never uncomfortable, and road/wind noise is well contained. The only criticisms that blight the VXR’s all-round usability are appalling visibility and a heavy clutch pedal.
The interior is spacious, with room in the back for adults. Unfortunately, it’s only available as a three-door, hence you’ll have to reset your driving position every time you flip the front seats forward for rear access. The boot is 370 litres. Ultimately, very little has changed from the standard GTC. There are odd bespoke touch here and there, like the red backlit dials, but they do little to disguise the low rent, albeit solid cabin.
In a straight line, the VXR is monstrously fast. Torque steer is still present, and testers are divided as to whether it adds character or is simply an unwelcome fly in the ointment. With 295lb ft of torque from as little as 2450rpm, it covers ground like very little else, all the while accompanied by the odd yet endearing exhaust note.
The VXR’s handling is a contentious issue. Most testers feel that it’s a sound package, with staggering levels of grip and an impressive turn of speed, but is fundamentally un-engaging and distant with vague steering and a prematurely sensitive brake pedal. Some go further, claiming that the chassis can’t cope with so much power, making its handling all too unruly, while others still think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. There is one unified opinion however, if handling is all that’s important to you, go for a Renaultsport Megane.
The GTC has six airbags, electronic stability control and active head restraints that help prevent whiplash in a rear collision – these are standard across the range.
The Astra GTC scored five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, thanks in part to the reinforced passenger safety cell. Standard equipment isn’t as generous as other models, so if you like the look of the other tech available, you’ll have to tick the relevant boxes.
That said, some of this tech is very useful, such as Hill Start Assist that prevents the car moving when pulling away on steep roads, and other systems make the GTC a safer car to hustle down country roads, like Cornering Brake Control.
In basic spec the GTC sits in the middle of its rivals – cheaper than the VW Scirocco and the Kia Proceed GT, but more than the Renault Megane Coupe and Hyundai Veloster.
Vauxhall has also ditched almost all of the trim levels so now you can get the GTC just in either the poorly equipped SRI entry-level model, or the full-blown VXR version that is not exactly cheap.
Vauxhall Astra GTC SRi
If you’re only getting one trim level, you’d expect to get all the equipment you need as standard. That’s not the case with the GTC – the only equipment worth noting is air-con, sports seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Everything else is in the options list and this certainly dents the GTC’s value for money.
Vauxhall Astra GTC VXR
As the name suggest this trim level brings numerous upgrades coming from Vauxhall’s racing division. Outside there is a very aggressive body kit, huge 19-inch wheels and the whole car sits much lower. Inside, there’s VXR badges everywhere along with beautiful sculpted sport seats upholstered in leather, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and sporty aluminium pedals.
As an overall package the Astra GTC is certainly tempting.
In this market, buyers will use the car’s appearance as much as they use the badge to make their choice, and with this in mind, Vauxhall have given the GTC a good start.
Apart from the normal engines mentioned in this review, those seeking performance can opt for the VXR model with 276hp, and at the other end of the scale, there are the fuel-sipping Ecotec models that will not set any speed records but will provide superb efficiency.
Reviewers do say that it isn’t quite as good as the Scirocco it’s trying to rival, but it’s worth noting that reviewers are keen to point out it’s not as expensive, either.