Our cars: Vauxhall Astra GTC - August
Week ending August 31
Driven this week 250 miles
Vauxhall Astra GTC review
I put a few more miles this week on the Astra GTC, since Andy Pringle has stolen the Evoque for his holidays.
Perhaps it's retaliation for my comments last week, when I concluded that the Astra is a three-door hatchback more than a coupe, but I've found a few more compromises in the name of style.
The main one is visibility, which is pretty badly impaired in right-hand corners. The culprit is one of the largest, longest A-pillars known to mankind; you find yourself leaning forwards to peer round it. It's a far-from-ideal layout, really, but at least it's a reminder that you're in something 'special'.
There's nothing else in the driver's immediate line of sight that would give the game away.
Week ending August 24
Miles this week 200
I'm always a bit dubious about cars like the Astra GTC and one of its main rivals, the VW Scirocco. These cars try their best to blur the line between a three-door hatchback and a coupe; at which point does a car stop being one and start being the other? We've argued over this one extensively in the office, I can assure you.
I ended up with the Astra for a few nights this week, so I got my thinking cap on and tried to work it out. The Astra has the looks to carry off the coupe moniker, and the huge doors feel very style-led (they're a pain to get in and out of; I've already found myself parking in deserted areas of car parks, just to give myself some space).
In real-life use, though, this is merely a three-door version of the Astra we all know so well. The dashboard doesn't feel any more special, frankly. And the boot, while hardly cavernous, is decent enough for a couple of reasonably large suitcases. It certainly feels more capacious than, say, an Audi TT's (I've just looked it up; it's almost 100 litres larger).
So there you have it: the GTC is a three-door hatchback, then. A very stylish one, but a three-door hatchback nonetheless.
Week ending August 10
Driven this week: 35
After spending a fair bit of time in our featherweight Suzuki Swift Sport, getting back into the somewhat larger Astra GTC was a bit of a shock to the system.
I’d forgotten just how heavy this car is and have spent much of the week pinned by its enormous, solid door – trapped fingers, trapped legs, trapped ankles, the works.
It’s fine when there’s enough space to open the door fully, but when you’re parked next to another car or on a busy road, getting in and out requires considerable grappling and contorting.
I’ve now given up carrying even my handbag in the cabin – it’s relegated to the boot, leaving me free to do battle with the door.
See Emma's Astra GTC on video
Week ending August 3
Driven this week: 50
Practicality is probably the last thing you want or expect from a sporty looking three-door pseudo-coupe, so it came as a pleasant surprise to find just how practical the Astra GTC is.
With a Saturday afternoon barbeque planned, we needed a last-minute dash to the supermarket to stock up on the £150-worth of food and drink to serve up to our nine guests – as well as the seats for them to sit on. However, I was soon able to banish any thoughts that the GTC might struggle with the load.
In fact, the Vauxhall swallowed our trolley-full of stuff without a problem – as did our guests. Come to think of it, the Astra probably could have squeezed in enough stuff for twice as many people.
Overall, though, I'm still not swayed by the attractions of the GTC. After all, practicality is not a must-have in a three-door car, and there are a few things that really frustrate me about the car.
First, I hate having to reach so far back for the seatbelt every time I buckle up – and I'm fairly lanky - so heaven knows how someone with shorter legs and the seat pushed further forward copes.
Secondly, I absolutely loathe the GTC's gearchange- it's too slow and too notchy. In a car that's meant to be all about driving pleasure, it’s hugely frustrating that something so intrinsic to driving enjoyment is so annoying.