What is it?
The third out of four body derivatives of the Vauxhall Astra, Britain’s most popular new car in 2010 – and it’s about to go on sale in the UK. With the five-door hatchback and sports tourer estate already on the market, Luton is preparing to start deliveries of the three-door Vauxhall Astra GTC 2.0 CDTi Sri. Or the GTC coupe, as they would prefer you to think of it.
This time they’ve got good reason to insist on a separate showroom identity for the racier-looking Astra. Although it’s based on a platform common with the rest of the model family, the GTC is markedly lower, wider and more athletic-looking than the five-door.
Underneath the all-new panels there’s an upgraded chassis with wider tracks, retuned springs, dampers and bushings, and GM’s advanced ‘Hiperstrut’ front suspension system. The latter is designed to maintain the kingpin angle of the front suspension under load, providing better camber control, grip and steering precision, and less torque steer. It’s the sort of equipment becoming more common on highly strung performance front-drivers - but on a car available for less than £19,000, it’s unprecedented.
What’s it like?
A track drive in a prototype with a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine earlier this year suggested big improvements in handling and driver involvement for the GTC relative to the regular Astra. And on UK country roads similar to the ones on which the car was developed, the GTC rides and handles with real distinction.