Our cars: Vauxhall Astra GTC - May 2012
Week ending May 25
Driven this week: 136 miles
Vauxhall Astra GTC review
The Astra GTC had its True MPG fuel test this week, and to say I'm chomping at the bit to see the results is something of an understatement. Under my watch, the car's economy has had its ups and downs, and it's shown itself to be hyper sensitive to anything but the lowest of revs and the clearest of runs.
In the early months when it was getting a lot of motorway action, it didn't do too badly, averaging 28-29mpg, which is still 10mpg less than the official figure. More recently, it's been subject to much shorter urban runs, mostly during rush hour, and the impact has been really quite staggering – an average of just 20.7mpg last month.
Today's varied drive proved that this GTC is happiest at about 40mph in fifth gear on an open road. There, very quickly the trip computer hit what has become the holy grail of 40mpg. On the motorway at a steady 70mph this dropped to 35mpg, and by the time a colleague had taken it up the road and back for lunch, it was back at 29mpg. After tonight's stop-start home run, I imagine we'll be back in the low-20s doldrums.
See Emma's Astra GTC on video
Week ending May 18
Driven this week: 106 miles
I borrowed the Astra GTC for the weekend, and I was settling in nicely until it became 'the weekend of the lost house keys'.
It was the usual story: I remembered climbing into the Astra on Friday afternoon with them on me, but hadn’t the foggiest idea if I’d exited the same way. Thorough searches of the cabin on four separate occasions returned nothing.
It wasn’t until Monday morning that I discovered the armrest storage has a splitter, which is lifted away to reveal a small cubbyhole. A small cubbyhole with my house keys in it.
Apart from this slight mishap, I enjoyed driving the GTC. Its handling is sharp and I found the seats to be comfortable – despite colleagues complaining otherwise.
That poor fuel economy (29mpg over the weekend) is worrying, though, and the ride over broken roads and potholes is jarring with such large alloy wheels and the sporty suspension.
Week ending May 11
Driven this week: 180 miles
The poor old GTC has come in for a bit of a bashing lately, what with complaints about its over-eager fuel consumption (still no improvement) and bad back-inducing seats (something I dispute).
However, there are lots of things that this coupe does rather well. In particular, I have to say I'm impressed with its Bluetooth feature. With just a few clicks of the whizzy infotainment system menu buttons you can add a phone, pair it and access your contacts book in nice, digestible alphabetical chunks.
Just one word of warning – the system will only accept five phones at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I'm not some '80s yuppie throwback (two phones are more than enough for me), but if your car is often driven by different people (as the GTC is) you need to remember to check that yours is still on the activation list before you start accusing the system of meltdown.
Week ending May 4
Driven this week: 34 miles
The GTC hasn’t seen much action this week. When I headed off on a 1200-mile round trip to the south of France, I took the executive decision to leave the thirsty Astra at home in favour of the much more frugal Mercedes-Benz CLS.
I know that the GTC would have benefitted from a long run, and I feel a little guilty neglecting it, but having calculated its fuel consumption for last month, I’m glad (not to mention my bank manager) that I did.
Even when the car went through a phase of pure motorway driving, it only ever managed a record average of 30.5 miles per gallon. In April, after being consigned to mostly urban routes, it’s turned in just 24.9mpg. Disappointing.