Our cars: Vauxhall Astra GTC - September
Week ending September 21
Driven this week: 98 miles
Vauxhall Astra GTC review
With only one more week before our Astra GTC leaves our long-term fleet, I've been trying to spend as much time in the car as possible, and with autumn biting at our heels there are a few features I've been appreciating all over again.
Monday's chilly 5am run to the airport for a reader trip to Frankfurt and an early look at the all-new Kia Carens MPV found me infinitely grateful for the GTC's heated seats.
I started to wonder – not without some anxiety – how I'm going to cope without them. I've been spoiled for anything else; while the car's successor, the Suzuki Swift Sport, has many things going for it, it's sadly lacking in the heated seats department.
Now the nights are drawing in, the Astra really is coming into its own. Its automatic headlamps are quick to respond to light changes, and their strong beam pans out wide across the road so you don't miss (or rather you do) small children, foxes or cats scurrying out from behind parked cars.
Another useful little feature of these lights is that when you remotely unlock the car in the dark, the lamps come on to light your way as you walk towards it – it’s a nice welcoming touch that makes me smile, and clever, too – they don't activate like this during the day.
Back at the airport and in a murky, dark, full car park, I had no problem finding the GTC thanks to its glow-in-the-night yellow paintwork. It's pretty much fluorescent under streetlights, which is helpful when you're a bit bleary eyed after a long day.
By Steve Huntingford
Emma's Astra GTC on video
Week ending September 14
Driven this week: 114 miles
I've lived in London for the past 10 years, so consider myself something of an expert at parallel parking. However, I find it difficult in the Astra because over-the-shoulder vision is awful and you don't get reversing sensors as standard. That's a major oversight in a £22K car, let alone one you can't see out the back of.
The GTC is a lot more likeable when you get out of the city; it turns into bends swiftly and with real composure. True, the steering doesn't offer a huge amount of feedback, but it is at least consistent in its reactions and the car grips well, so you quickly learn to trust it.
By Steve Huntingford
Week ending September 7
Driven this week: 34 miles
I drove the Astra GTC for the first time in a while this week, and it struck me as being more fun than I remembered.
It's possible that I've been driving a lot less sporty cars recently, but I think it also helped that I was restricted to driving in town.
At low speed the steering feels pleasantly weighty and the engine is usefully responsive, as long as you work the gearbox and keep the revs high.
At higher speeds, our GTC is less impressive, largely because the combination of its high gearing and an engine that feels flat at low revs means that it doesn't feel quick enough.
By Leo Wilkinson
Featured in this story