Vauxhall Astra: up against the GTC

  • We pit the latest three-door against our Astra
  • Scirocco rivalling GTC is a striking design
  • What you lose on practicality, make up in handling

There have been depressing times recently for both my Astra and its driver.

We had to go to the christening of the new and infinitely better-looking Astra GTC, as Vauxhall looked to expand the range with something sleeker and sportier.

As soon as I arrived I could see that my long-termer just doesn’t look as distinctive as the new three-door VW Scirocco rival. It doesn’t stop there either – the GTC also rides and handles better than my lowly test car.

Although many of the dash components are familiar, Vauxhall will tell you that just two of the exterior body parts are shared with the five-door. The door handles and the radio antennae are the only two common parts between the models. The three-door really does turn heads too. No mean feat for a Vauxhall Astra. Its rakish curves and bespoke alloys really set it apart from the crowd.

The GTC makes use of the front suspension setup in the Insignia VXR to ensure far more power gets through the front wheels and onto the road. This means a wider track at both front and rear, and what a difference it makes. Where my car will under-steer and attempt murder by tree-trunk when you get close to the limit, the GTC hangs on and dives into corners. A little lift means the back wheel cocks and the weight of the car just pulls you through the bend.

However, grip isn’t the only thing that has improved on the GTC. The ride is better too, with a firmer yet somehow more absorbent setup that seems very well suited to UK roads.

Of course, what you gain in performance and handling does come at a cost – practicality suffers and you lose some visibility too, especially around the A- and B-pillars. The boot isn’t as accessible since it is raised higher than on the normal Astra, and the opening isn’t as big. Due to that sloping roof you also lose space in the rear of the car.

So there's the big choice you have to make. Stick with the five-door and keep the space and practicality, or opt for the sleeker three-door for a more engaging drive. I think I'll go for the latter.

Current mileage: 5,786

Average mpg: 26.25