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Car reviews - Opel - Astra - GTC

Launch Story

Opel logo1 Aug 2012

By RON HAMMERTON

THE curvaceous and distinctive Opel Astra GTC will go it alone under $30,000 in the sporty Euro three-door hatchback league, hitting the showrooms at an entry price of $28,990 (plus on-road costs).

A full $11,000 cheaper than the only three-door Volkswagen Golf, the $38,990 GTI, the introductory Astra GTC range is aimed at buyers who want Euro style, without paying for top-shelf performance.

The GTC sits on a larger footprint than the five-door Astra on which it is based, with a 10mm longer wheelbase (2695mm) and wider track, by 40mm at the front and 30mm at the rear.

As well, Opel engineers have dropped the ride height by up to 15mm to aid roadholding and deliver a sportier look.

Apart from the Golf GTI, most sporty Euro-style three-door hatchbacks are congregated above $40,000. These include the Mini Cooper ($42,990), Audi A3 ($52,150) and Renault Megane RS250 ($41,990).

The obvious exception is the new Ford Focus ST, which was also announced today and will be priced at $38,290 when it goes on sale in October – although the Focus is a five-door and boasts considerably more power (184kW) and torque (360Nm) from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine.

Ultimately, the Opel GTC range is likely to include a model in that price range, too – the Golf GTI-bashing GTC OPC with 206kW of power on tap.

Until then, the spunky GTC will be offered with a pair of more relaxed turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engines – the 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre that is already available in Australia in Holden’s Cruze, and range-topping (for now) 132kW/230Nm 1.6-litre GTC Sport.

The former will be available with six-speed manual and automatic transmissions, priced at $28,990 and $30,990 respectively.

The latter – the $34,990 manual-only 1.6 GTC Sport – can punch the 1435kg hatch from zero to 100km/h in 8.3 seconds – 1.6 seconds faster than the cooking model, but a full second slower than the benchmark three-door 155kW Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Unlike the five-door Astra hatchback or the Golf, the GTC offers no diesel alternative, so the most efficient GTC variant is the 1.4-litre manual at a claimed 6.0 litres per 100km on the official combined cycle.

This 1.4 manual GTC has the advantage of fuel-saving idle-stop – a feature not available on the automatic GTC or the GTC Sport.

The automatic chews an extra 0.9L/100km (6.9) of fuel, while the 1.6-litre manual pushes consumption up to 7.3L/100km.

The GTC shares the Astra five-door hatch’s sports HyPerStrut (High Performance Strut) front suspension that alters the geometry to alleviate torque-steer, sharpen handling and provide more steering ‘feel’.

This suspension layout means GTC Sport owners can go nuts and fit the optional $1000 20-inch alloy wheels in place of the standard 19-inch alloys (18-inch on the base GTC).

At the back, the GTC rides on Watts link suspension, which Opel says offers several advantages – including packaging and suspension stiffness – over premium multi-link set-ups.

Cashed-up GTC Sport buyers can even add Opel’s $2000 adaptive chassis system, called Flexride, offering three suspension settings – Normal, Tour and Sport – like those offered on much more expensive luxury cars.

Rack-and-pinion electric-assisted steering is standard on the GTC, with the electric motor driving the rack, not the steering column, for what Opel claims is better steering feedback.

The GTC gets sports seats, along with a leather-clad steering wheel (leather upholstery is a $2500 option on the base GTC) and LED ambient cabin lighting in the consoles to add some flair.

Halogen projector headlamps and LED daytime-running lamps are standard, but customers can step up to bi-Xenon lights in an optional package called Advance Forward Lighting.

A seven-speaker audio system with iPod connectivity and Bluetooth is standard, while sat-nav can be added (standard on the GTC Sport).

Apart from the bigger wheels, the GTC Sport gains a body kit, LED tail-lights, ‘shark fin’ GPS antenna, and rear window radio antenna.

The GTC Sport’s steering wheel is more upmarket, while leather upholstery is standard on the Sport.

Dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, sat-nav, rain-sensing wipers, large seven-inch graphic display, premium speakers and remote keyless entry are among the extras that come with the $6000 price premium over the standard model.

Luggage capacity with the 60/40 rear seat up is 380 litres, growing to 775 litres with the seats folded flat.

A space-saver spare wheel is standard on both GTC variants.

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