Our cars: Vauxhall Astra GTC - February 2012
Week ending February 24
Driven this week 258 miles
Vauxhall Astra GTC review
I’m not quite sure what to think of our Astra GTC.
It is a good car to drive: it’s fun on winding roads, but is also quite composed on the motorway. The engine’s pretty good as well.
My overall view of it has been dimmed by the seats. I have a dodgy lower back anyway, but it rarely gives me any trouble unless I’m sat for a long time. However, in the GTC I’d get my first twinge of pain after just 20 minutes: not ideal when my commute is more than an hour long.
Week ending February 10
Miles driven this week: 113
The Astra GTC was a mixed bag in the recent snow. Pluses were heated seats that quickly got warm and effective dipped-beam headlights.
The wide tyres didn’t dig into the snow particularly well, though, and the wipers caused another problem. Because they wipe up and outwards, they push a mound of snow to the outside of the windscreen. This mound then sits next to the thick front pillars, getting thicker and thicker with each wipe, making the GTC’s already poor visibility even worse. If the snow doesn’t get swept off or melt as you drive along, you have to stop and remove it by hand.
Still, the conditions showed off the Astra’s looks a treat, especially the line that goes from the door handle, over the rear wheels to the tail-lights. I also think the yellow paint looks good with some winter grime on it.
Week ending February 3
Miles driven this week 319
I had my first experience of the GTC this week and, on the whole, it was a positive one.
It's a very likeable car, with an inviting cabin and fun, yet refined, character. The handling and steering are sharp, as befits its sporty character. The ride is surprisingly forgiving, too, even on the GTC's 19-inch alloy wheels.
Performance isn't as strong as you'd expect for a car with 177bhp, though. You need to keep the turbocharger on song, and lots of revs are necessary. Having said that, staying in low gear and working the engine hard gives the GTC a refreshingly old-school hot hatch feel.
As well as being classy, the GTC's cabin is surprisingly practical. I needed to transport a bulky storage stand, which I had collected in our long-term Lexus CT200h. I was worried that it wouldn't fit in the GTC at all, but in fact it went in much easier, thanks to the GTC's lower boot floor and rear seats that fold almost flat.