Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Fire up the... Vauxhall Astra GTC
YOU know you're living in more stylish times when you can freely use “Vauxhall Astra” and “good looking” in the same sentence, but it's true. This new Vauxhall Astra is genuinely good looking.
There are, even if this aesthetically enlightened age plenty of cars you could call striking or challenging but the Astra GTC achieves something much more remarkable, it is one of those coupes that rings all the right visual eyes with almost everyone who takes it in.
Then again, twenty years ago the company's Calibra dissapointed drivers when it was launched, because under its equally striking skin were unexcitingly ordinary Cavalier mechanicals. In order to impress against the likes of Volkswagen's Scirocco and Hyundai's Veloster - which also offer sleek coupe lines with a hint of hatchback practicality - it'll have to offer substance to back its style up.
Like the Veedub and the Hyundai, the GTC's really more of a three-door hatchback with added glitz than a truly no compromises coupe, and while that means you might lose a little in glamour what you gain is big practicality, with genuinely useful headroom and legroom inside, even in the back, where most of its rivals lose out.
The 1.7 diesel version I tried offers plenty of punch too - it's a shame about the slightly tractoresque soundtrack you get when you start it up, but the tradeoff is a claimed 62 to the gallon and lots of low down torque to play with. Even more impressively, it's well equipped, coming with no less than six airbags and a stash of gadgets as standard.
Is it worth spending your £21,200 on? If you're looking for something with a lot of pose factor probably not - it's attractive but not attention-grabbingly so and interior's little staid for all its solidity, but if you're looking for a great looking car which appeals to your head and heart in equal measure it's well worth a look.
I'd still go for a Scirocco first but if the VW's not your bag, you'll love it.