Vauxhall Astra GTC SRi 2.0 CDTi02 | 11 | 2011Scotcars rating

    Vauxhall gets all sporty with its new GTC, but does it deliver where it matters? We find out...


    Until recently, the only hillclimbing I'd ever done involved a pair of sturdy boots, lots of exertion and an over-riding need to lie down when I got to the summit. Then those nice people at Vauxhall introduced me to the motorsport equivalent to show off their new athlete, the Astra GTC. It turned out to be something really special — the classic hillclimb venue at Shelsley Walsh in the English Midlands. 

    First used in 1905, it's the oldest motorsport venue in continuous use in the world with an even longer racing heritage than Le Mans, Indianapolis and Monza. The track is demanding to say the least; just 1000 yards long, it rises 328 feet in that time and is only 12 feet wide, allowing no margin for error. The fastest recorded time is just 22.58 seconds!

    In a standard GTC with road tyres, I took almost twice as long but in a still reasonable 42.9 seconds. So what does that prove, apart from the fact that if I was 30 years younger and half as heavy I'd have recorded a better time? Well, for me it shows that at the age of 103, Vauxhall may be the oldest surviving British motor manufacturer but hasn't lost any of its sporting heritage and quality engineering.

    The GTC (watch our video of the all-new Vauxhall GTC) follows in a fine tradition of sports models, like the Astra Sports hatch it replaces; the Astra GTE in the 90s; the Chevette HSR which dominated so much of rallying in the 80s; the angular Firenza HP 'Droopsnoot' of the 70s and right back to Britain's first true sports car, the 3.0-litre Prince Henry of 1911. The new GTC is pitched directly at the very successful Scirocco from VW, but is priced at £1350 less.  

    On the Road:

    It feels very secure on the road and that's largely down to the sophisticated HiPerStrut front suspension, derived from the Insignia VXR, to give superb handling and stability. It helps prevent torquesteer, a trait of many powerful front-wheel drive cars, allowing the driver to make full use of the performance without having to battle with the steering. Britain will be the biggest market for the GTC, which is why the development engineers carried out much of their evaluation on UK roads and our unique variations of undulations, cambers, rough surfaces, apexes and crests … and more than our share of potholes.

    They worked on the basis that if the system operates well here, then it should be perfect for all the other markets too. The GTC's ride height has been lowered by 15mm, compared to the Astra Hatch, with a longer wheelbase and wider track, giving the car a stronger on-road presence. Coupled with other changes in steering and damping, the overall feel is very confident. There are three petrol and three diesel engines, and six speed manual gearboxes are standard with autos optional on the 1.4 turbo petrol and the larger powered 2.0-litre diesel.  

    Comfort and Safety:

    This is the third body style to come off the Astra’s Delta platform, following the Hatch and last year’s Sports Tourer, but the only exterior design elements the GTC shares with its siblings are door handles and the roof aerial. Many of the Vauxhall/Opel design team are British and they are keen to acknowledge how important the UK market is to them. The Astra is the second-biggest selling car in Britain and Scotland, beating both the Ford Focus and VW Golf.

    It's obvious we love to get our hands on a performance machine at an affordable price. Apart from its driveability and sportiness, it is also remarkably accommodating, with bigger luggage space than some of the competition. The interior is well put together and stylish, especially in the deep set dashboard binnacles. In the SRi test car, the leather trim adds a feel of quality alongside the firm sports seats.  

    Should I buy One?

    It looks good, drives well and is easier on the pocket than the Scirocco.

    Keep up-to-date with all the latest news my following us on

    Alan Douglas

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £22,430 / £22,430
    Engine / Power: 1956cc/ 163bhp
    How fast?: 0-60mph 8.4secs / Max 131mph
    How big/heavy?: L4466mm W2020mm H1482mm / Weight 1368kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 58.9mpg / CO2 127g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: na / Band D £95
    Alternatives: VW Scirocco; Renault Megane Coupe; Audi A3

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