In fact, the GTC doesn’t share a single body panel with the standard five-door Astra. It also has a longer wheelbase, a wider front- and rear track, more sophisticated front suspension, revised rear suspension, and the whole thing has been lowered by 15mm.
On paper, these changes should all add up to a sharper, more focused driving experience, one that Vauxhall hopes will be sharp enough to tempt buyers away from rivals like the Renault Megane Coupe and Volkswagen Scirocco.
Four engines will be available at launch. Petrol choices include the 1.6 turbo we drove, plus two turbocharged 1.4 petrols with either 118bhp or 138bhp. The diesel option is a 163bhp 2.0. You’ll also have two trims to choose from. Sport cars will come with alloys, air-conditioning and a DAB radio, while SRi cars will add xenon headlamps and automatic lights and wipers.
What’s it like to drive?
The GTC has clever new front suspension that's a modified version of the one found on the Insignia VXR. It’s designed to improve grip and steering precision, while also reducing the torque steer (where the steering wheel writhes around in your hands under hard acceleration) that’s common in powerful front-wheel drive cars.
On the evidence of our brief drive in this early prototype, the GTC certainly delivers grip. It turns in much more quickly than the standard Astra, and it’ll carry a good bit more speed through a set of bends. Body lean is also very well suppressed, and this strong control also helps the car change direction swiftly and neatly.
That said, our test car was fitted with Flexride, Vauxhall’s adaptive damping system that’ll be available as a £790 option. This changes the suspension’s stiffness depending on the setting you select – Sport mode gives even tighter body control, while Tour mode gives a softer, cushier ride. Vauxhall says the Standard setting in between represents how the GTC will behave when Flexride isn’t added. That bodes well, because it gives a good blend of control and comfort.
Vauxhall Astra GTC gallery
Selecting Sport mode also gives you sharper throttle responses, and adds more steering weight. In all modes, though, the GTC’s steering feels meatier and more responsive than the hatchback’s. You get a little more feedback through the wheel, too, but it could still do with a bit more.
There's no torque steer, either. However, although our test car’s turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine gives strong, responsive performance, it debatable whether its 178bhp is enough for torque steer to be an issue, clever suspension or no clever suspension. Let’s see how it fares when the VXR performance version comes out next May – that’s expected to have around 300bhp.