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OPEL ASTRA GTC By Brian Foley

OPEL ASTRA GTC
Stylish, enjoyable and keenly priced.

With it’s dramatic supercar looks, the Opel Astra GTC is a real style statement, unquestionably one of the smartest cars on the road. And the most amazing thing about the GTC is that it does not cost a small fortune, with the entry-level or base model priced from just €23,495 (plus delivery). This is by no means a cut-price model as it has all the essentials of the more expensive versions, including the sophisticated HiPerStrut front suspension derived from the Insignia OPC, which gives precision handling and excellent stability.

The third body style to come off the Astra’s Delta platform (following the Hatch and last year’s Sports Tourer), the only exterior design elements the GTC shares with its Opel siblings are door handles and the roof aerial – even the wheelbase and tracks are different. Practicality has not been sacrificed on the high altar of design. for the Astra GTC is a versatile 3-door hatchback with comfortable seating for five and a large boot.

Standard on both Sport and SRi models are 18-inch alloy wheels, with each getting a unique design. For the first time on an Opel coupe in this class, 20-inch rims are available as an option on SRi models, with 19-inch wheels a further cost option on both trims.

On the upper-spec SRi model, tinted glass is standard, while the latest generation AFL (Adaptive Forward Lighting) is optional across the GTC range.

High quality materials feature in all GTCs, as do chrome-edged instruments in deep-set binnacles that give clear and well laid-out information. Standard on all GTCs are DAB stereo and USB functionality, while SRi drivers get an onboard computer and leather-rimmed steering wheel, among many other standard items.

Two new colours are Seashell and Flaming Yellow materials. Morello Red, and a new premium leather trim, are also available as an option and bring with it a six-way adjustable driver’s seat.

Compared with the Astra Hatch, the GTC’s ride height has been lowered by 15mm, while the wheelbase has grown by 10mm, from 2685mm to 2695mm. Both tracks are wider, too, at 1584mm (+40mm) front and 1585mm (+30mm) rear. Steering, brakes and suspension are all uprated to cope with the extra performance and provide sporty handling to complement the surefooted roadholding. FlexRide, Opel’s adaptive damping system, is available as an option from €915 across the GTC range, complementing the significant revisions to the new model’s chassis. FlexRide automatically adapts to prevailing road surfaces and driving styles, providing drivers with fully optimised handling, even in the event of an emergency situation. At the heart of FlexRide is the Driving Mode Control (DMC) which oversees and executes the system’s settings, allowing the car to react to sudden changes in driving style or emergency situations. For example, if the driver needs to avoid an obstacle while in ‘Tour’ mode – the softest of the three settings – chassis sensors convey this to the DMC and the dampers are adjusted in a split second. Standard mode (the default setting) reacts in the same way as Tour, but when drivers select Sport they not only get stiffer dampers, but more steering effort, sharper throttle response and an instrument panel that’s back-lit in red, rather than white. Each of these settings can be dialled in or out of Sport mode via the GTC’s configurator.

Petrol engines
1.4-litre Turbo

Strong performance and flexibility are the core strengths of this engine, which is available with either 120PS or 140PS power outputs. Torque generation is even more impressive, with 200Nm available in both engines from just 1,850rpm to 4,900rpm, translating to a 0-60mph acceleration time of 9.0 seconds (140PS) or 10.2 seconds (120PS).

The water-cooled turbocharger, spinning at up to 200,000 rpm, is integrated into the exhaust manifold, close to the engine, for a fast throttle response. Air-to-air intercooling increases the intake charge density.

The adoption of a steel crankshaft with reinforced pistons and con-rods allows the use of a relatively high 9.5: 1 compression ratio, despite higher stresses and loads. Under-skirt piston oil cooling jets and exhaust valves filled with sodium are further measures to ensure durability under higher internal temperatures. All 1.4 Turbo models come equipped as standard with Start/Stop, helping them achieve competitively low emissions of between 140-142g/km, depending upon wheels/tyres fitted.

1.6-litre Turbo

The most powerful engine in the GTC’s line-up produces 180PS and achieves a specific output of just over 100PS per litre. Available across the range, the 1.6 Turbo is the most powerful series production engine in its displacement class.

Its high power is matched by an impressively wide plateau of torque, with 230Nm available from 2,200rpm to 5,400rpm. With this engine, the GTC can accelerate from 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds, and on to a top speed of 137mph. The 1.6T’s cylinder barrels are laser-etched for minimal piston friction. To withstand higher operating temperatures, the exhaust valves are filled with sodium and under-skirt piston cooling with oil jets is used. A map-based thermostat control raises the coolant temperature at low engine speeds, or under light loads, to help reduce internal lubricant friction and improve fuel consumption.

Turbo Diesel engines

1.7 CDTi

Available in two states of tune, providing either 110PS and 280Nm of torque, or 130PS and 300Nm. Combined cycle fuel consumption for both is 62.8mpg with standard wheel rims fitted, and each achieves 119g/km. Despite being the most frugal models in the range, the 1.7 CDTi allow the GTC to accelerate to 60mph in either 10.0 (130PS) or 11.0 seconds (110PS).

2.0 CDTi

The 2.0 CDTi packs 165PS with an exceptionally strong 350Nm of torque from just 1,750rpm. This helps it achieve a 0-60mph time of just 8.4 seconds and 50-70mph in 6.4 seconds, together with a combined fuel consumption of 58.9mpg and emissions of just 127g/km (18 & 19-inch wheels fitted). Opel’s Start/Stop system is fitted to all 2.0 CDTi models as standard.

Transmission

Six-speed manual gearboxes, offering a wide spread of ratios and a tall, fuel-saving top gear, are standard fit across the entire range. All gearboxes include triple cone synchronization on first and second gears for easy engagement, and a synchronized reverse gear. A six-speed automatic gearbox is also available on 1.4 Turbo 140PS and 2.0 CDTi 165PS engines.

Safety

The Astra GTC is available with a variety of advanced electronic options and proven safety features, like front, side and curtain airbags and a reinforced passenger safety cell with pre-defined deformation zones.

Standard on all GTCs are active safety head restraints, and on SRi models, Hill Start Assist, which helps prevent you rolling back on a slope by keeping the car’s brakes applied until just the right moment. Dual front seatbelt pre-tensioners and a pedal release system are standard on all GTCs.

Key options in the range are Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL) and front and rear parking distance sensors.

RANGE & PRICING

Astra GTC PricingR.R.PTax Band
Sport 1.4 Turbo 120PS SS23,495.00B
Sport 1.4 Turbo 140PS SS23,995.00B
Sport 1.4 Turbo 140PS auto 26,995.00D
Sport 1.6 Turbo 180PS26,495.00D
Sport 1.7 CDTi 110PS SS 24,495.00A
Sport 1.7 CDTi 130PS SS24,995.00A
Sport 2.0CDTi 165PS SS25,995.00B
Sport 2.0CDTi 165PS auto28,995.00C
SRi 1.4 Turbo 120PS SS25,495.00B
SRi 1.4 Turbo 140PS SS25,995.00B
SRi 1.4 Turbo 140PS auto28,995.00C
SRi 1.6 Turbo 180PS28,495.00C
SRi 1.7 CDTi 110PS SS26,495.00A
SRi 1.7 CDTi 130PS SS26,995.00A
SRi 2.0CDTi 165PS SS27,995.00B
SRi 2.0CDTi 165PS auto30,995.00C


2.0CDTi on TEST
A week of driving the Astra GTC 2.0CDTi proved most enjoyable on many accounts, not least of which were the admiring looks – at the car, be it noted, not the driver! The GTC does everything just right, combining lively perfoirmance with faultless handling, good fuel economy and low emissions, flexibility and practicality.

Nice one.