Vauxhall’s new Astra GTC will make a surprise debut at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, more than two months ahead of its official world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Details were revealed last night of Vauxhall’s eagerly anticipated model which was previewed as the GTC Paris Concept at last year’s Paris Motor Show.
It’s certainly a looker and we’re pleased to see how closely it resembles the stunning GTC concept. Set to compete head-on with VW’s Scirocco and Renault’s Megane Coupe, the Astra GTC enters the UK market priced from £18,495, which is nearly £1,100 less than the basic VW Scirocco.
Since the Astra GTC shares no body panels with either the Astra Hatch or Sports Tourer, it has a unique appearance in the range, and one which has largely stayed faithful to last year’s stunning GTC Paris concept.
“We wanted the Astra GTC to be the ultimate expression of Vauxhall’s design language, and to embody our passion for the motor car,” said Mark Adams, Vice President of Vauxhall/Opel design. “But we didn’t want emotion to get in the way of functionality: the Astra GTC still needed to be clever, affordable and practical.”
The third body style to come off the new Astra’s Delta platform is far from being ‘merely’ a 3-door version of the Astra hatchback – the only elements the GTC shares with its siblings are door handles and the roof aerial – even the wheelbase and tracks are different. Brit, Mark Adams, Vauxhall’s Vice President of Design, has aimed to create a car that looks like it’s been plucked from the class above, with its low, wide stance and simple, yet rakish lines.
But don’t be fooled: the GTC’s ‘straight-from-concept’ looks shroud a cabin that’s roomy and comfortable enough to accommodate four adults and their luggage. So while the GTC will appeal to UK car enthusiasts, its practicality will ensure that it accounts for around 20 per cent of all Astra sales when it arrives in UK showrooms towards the end of this year.
Significant changes were made to the Astra’s front suspension, including the adoption of Vauxhall’s HiPerStrut (High Performance Strut) used on the 325PS Insignia VXR. The HiPerStrut uses the existing attachment points from the regular Astra, and has a reduced kingpin inclination and a shorter spindle length. This reduces levels of torque-steer, improves grip – and therefore cornering power – while also enhancing steering precision and feedback.
Compared with the Astra Hatch, the GTC’s ride height has been lowered by 15mm, while the wheelbase has grown by 10mm, from 2685mm to 2695mm. Both tracks are wider, too, at 1584mm (+ 40mm) front and 1588mm (+ 30mm) rear. This allows the option of larger rims (up to 20-inch), as well as improving stability.
Enhancing the GTC’s chassis still further is the option of Vauxhall’s FlexRide adaptive damping. FlexRide automatically adapts to prevailing road surfaces and driving styles, providing drivers with fully optimised handling, even in the event of an emergency situation. In addition, FlexRide offers a choice of three settings – Standard, Tour or Sport – which will change the car’s character on demand at the push of a button.
The Astra GTC can be ordered with a choice of four engines – one diesel and three petrols.
With 163 bhp, the 2.0 CDTi is an upgraded version of the diesel that’s fitted to some models in the Insignia and Astra ranges. All engines have a diesel particulate filter, six-speed transmission and Start/Stop as standard, maximising economy and performance. Delivering 380Nm of torque (including overboost function) the 2.0 CDTi engine provides excellent mid-range acceleration for the GTC, combined with a 0-62mph time of 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 130mph.
That torque also allows the GTC a relaxed cruising gait, meaning a combined mpg of 57.6mpg and C02 emissions of just 129g/km. It also gives drivers a range potential in excess of 700 miles.
Start/Stop and a six-speed gearbox are also standard on both versions of the 1.4-litre Turbo petrol engine. With either 118 bhp or 138 bhp, the 1.4T achieves a combined 47.9mpg and 139g/km of C02 emissions, yet each still delivers crisp performance with maximum torque of 200Nm delivered between 1850-4200rpm.
The most powerful engine in the range is the 1.6-litre Turbo, which produces 177 bhp and allows the GTC to hit a top speed of 132mph.
In 2012, a high output VXR model is set to join the range with further visual and dynamic upgrades.
The GTC range starts at £18,495 for the 118 bhp Sport 1.4 Turbo, with the 163 bhp SRi 2.0 CDTi priced at £22,430 when it goes on sale in the UK shortly after the Frankfurt show in September.