The range-topping GTC comes with a 197bhp 1.6-litre turbo, a generous headline helping of power for a car of this size and price. That engine was added at the beginning of 2014, adding another 19bhp over the unit that topped the launch range. The GTC also forms the basis of the 276bhp Astra VXR, Vauxhall’s front-wheel drive charge against the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTi.

At the test track, that 1.6 petrol-powered GTC’s showing was respectable, if unexceptional. In chilly and damp conditions, the car hit 60mph in a two-way average of 8.8sec and 100mph in 24.3sec.

The GTC engines lack sparkle, but not disastrously so

That 0-60mph time was a full second slower than Vauxhall’s claim but, betraying a shortfall in torque (just 170 lb ft), it was two-tenths slower than the Scirocco 1.4 TSI we tested in the same conditions. Which may slightly undermine one of the key pillars of the GTC’s appeal for some: the delivery of a little bit of extra performance at a bargain price.

The 1.6 turbo engine is at its best high up in the revs. Through the middle of its range of operation, it feels a little strangled. But that’s only a minor, relative criticism. The engine’s good in-gear flexibility and throttle response make it easy to drive in everyday conditions.

Away from the respective range-topper, performance suffers, particularly with the entry-level 118bhp 1.4-litre petrol and the 108bhp 1.7-litre diesel. It’s certainly worth paying the premium for the extra shove to match the car’s style. The line-up is filled-out by a 138bhp 1.4 – the only GTC available with an auto gearbox – and a 134bhp 1.6 diesel.


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