This is the Vauxhall Astra GTC, Luton's new three-door rival for the Renault Megane and VW Scirocco. It's an important car for GM, expected to take up to 20% of all Astra orders, and the UK is traditionally the biggest market in Europe for the three-door Astra.
Vauxhall Astra GTC: design and packaging
The Astra GTC may be related to the existing Vauxhall Astra five-door hatchback, but the GTC is a substantially different design. The only exterior features shared with the five-door are the door handles and aerial on the roof. The GTC's body panels are completely different, and the GTC's platform dimensions differ too. It's 10mm longer in the wheelbase, 40mm wider in front track, and 30mm wider in rear track compared with the Astra five-door hatch.
Vauxhall design chief Mark Adams and his team have maintained the style from the GTC Paris concept. The GTC differs from the Astra hatch and Sports Tourer estate in its interpretation of current Vauxhall design cues: the 'blade' upward-curving feature line on the bodyside is now oriented towards the front wing of the car (in the other Astras it curves up at the rear) and the GTC has a different grille, headlight and tail-light treatment along with the coupe roofline. Adams is proud of the design, and its balance between style and utility: 'we didn’t want emotion to get in the way of functionality. The Astra GTC still needed to be clever, affordable and practical.'
Inside the Astra GTC
Vauxhall is keen to point out the practicality of the GTC, claiming room for four adults and a spacious boot. Indeed, the 370-litre bootspace with the rear seats up eclipses the Megane Coupe (344l) and the Scirocco (312l). But as Vauxhall's interior pic shows, the GTC is far more closely related to its workaday Astra relatives than it appears on the outside. Astra GTC owners get unique interior fabrics, and can spice-up the interior of their cars with Morello Red leather trim. But the fascia and controls are Astra family fare: not bad by any means, but not unique either.
Astra GTC suspension and engines
The Astra GTC gets the benefit of the Insignia VXR's HiPer Strut (High Performance Strut) front suspension. HiPer Strut is a development of standard MacPherson strut front suspension along similar lines to the Ford Focus RS RevoKnuckle system. As with RevoKnuckle, HiPer Strut aims to improve steering precision, reduce torque steer effect and give superior suspension geometry over the MacPherson strut, while using the same mounting points as the standard chassis.
At the rear, Vauxhall retains its 'compound crank' torsion beam rear axle with an additional Watts linkage, claiming benefits in space efficiency, weight and noise insulation over independent rear suspension. That puts the Astra GTC behind the Golf and Focus in suspension tech, but the Renaultsport Megane shows that a twist-beam rear axle need not be an impediment to excellent handling.
The engine range mirrors the existing Astra hatchback line of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Base powerplant is a 118bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, followed by 138bhp 1.4 turbo, a 163bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel and the range-topping 178bhp 1.6-litre turbo. The smaller petrol engines and the diesel get an engine stop/start system as standard to help with fuel economy.
Vauxhall Astra GTC UK prices
Vauxhall has two spec levels for the Astra GTC: basic Sport, and SRI. You can choose from all four powerplants in either trim level. An Astra GTC Sport comes with standard 18-inch wheels, DAB radio and USB media connection for the stereo, whilst SRI gets standard tinted windows, driving lights, multifunction trip computer and leather-trimmed steering wheel. Big-ticket tech items like FlexRide three-stage adaptive damping and Xenon lighting are optional across the range.
Looking for the Astra GTC VXR? It will be along in 2012, with further details to be announced later in the year, but expect 300bhp, 330lb ft and a limited slip differential.
||UK price (on the road)|
|1.4 T 16V 118bhp
|1.4 T 16V 138bh
|1.6 T 16V 178bhp
|2.0 CDTI 16V 163bhp
The Vauxhall Astra GTC makes its UK public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, 1-3 July 2011. You can order the Astra GTC at Vauxhall dealers from today, for deliveries towards the end of 2011.
>>Looking forward to the Astra GTC, or looking past it at one of its sports hatch rivals? Let us know in the comments section: