What is it?
Vauxhall’s lovely three-door Astra GTC, with the near-200bhp turbo petrol engine from the Cascada. It is not, however, one step down from the VXR. Other than the engine, the rest of it is standard GTC - so you get the rather good HiPer Strut front suspension, the effective rear suspension and the retuned steering.
This car is a Limited Edition, which adds an imposing set of 20-inch rims and a smart set of deeper bumpers.
What's it like?
It’s a fine-looking car, the GTC, and those sharp lines means it can just about get away with the attractive 20-inch wheels. Although it’s hard to not to miss the fact that the brake discs look very small behind the wheels, which lends them a bit of an aftermarket feel.
It can just about get away with maintaining a respectable ride, too - it’s nowhere near as choppy or crashy as you might expect, and potholes don’t seem to worry it at all. We drove it on well-maintained French roads, but deliberately seeking out some uneven, undulating surfaces caused the car to pitch about a bit.
And the engine? Given that the GTC has a nicely realised chassis, it’s not a surprise that it will easily contain the 1.6-litre’s 197bhp without any drama. The HiPer Strut front end does away with any hint of torque steer, and you can properly nail the throttle through a tight corner without corrupting the steering. It doesn’t squirm or wriggle about from a standing start, so you can get it moving quickly and cleanly.
Trouble is, it just isn’t that enjoyable when you do. Somehow, it does not feel that quick - granted, the 0-62mph of 7.3 seconds isn’t particularly rapid - and if you want to be reminded that it has the power output of a Mk5 Golf GTi, you really need to work it. And that gets a bit tiring. Noisy, too, with a less than enticing exhaust note that tends towards loud rather than lovely.
It’s better suited to trundling along at speed on a motorway than anything too enthusiastic, which is a shame because the rest of the car retains the GTC’s fine handling traits.
Should I buy one?
Not at full list price, because as an LE it’s £21,495, and for that money you might as well get a 1.4 Scirocco. Sorry for the predictability, but the Astra’s engine just isn’t special enough.