25 May 2012 by Paul Clarke
Model/Engine size: 1.7CDTi 16v Sport Start/Stop
Fuel economy combined: 62.8 mpg
Green Car Guide rating: 7/10
The Vauxhall Astra GTC 1.7CDTi looks good, it’s practical for a coupe, and it’s capable of 62.8 mpg, but does this diesel engine work in a coupe?
• Looks good
• Practical for a coupe
• Noisy engine
• Diesel is economical but petrol engine is better to drive
The current Vauxhall Astra hatchback has been around for a few years now but the GTC coupe has only appeared relatively recently. This 130PS diesel model offers 60 mpg plus economy, and low emissions of 119 g/km CO2.
The Astra GTC’s strongest point is that it looks good: it’s low, wide and curvy, and it looks even better with the optional 19-inch wheels fitted to this car – although we’re not sure about the yellow bodywork colour. The interior design is also attractive – very similar to that of the hatch – although the quality of some of the materials doesn’t match the quality of the appearance.
There are lots of buttons and the controller for the satnav is slightly strange, as it has an outer ring that you push to action a command rather than the central button, which is the opposite to most in-car satnav controllers, and it’s very unintuitive. The Astra also comes with an electronic handbrake; call us old-fashioned, but we’re still not fans of the way this works. There’s a reasonable amount of space for a coupe, in the front, in the rear (two adults would be more comfortable than three), and in the 370-litre boot.
Overall the Astra GTC is a competent car, but the main thing that defines the driving experience with this diesel engine is that it’s noisy. There’s also not a huge amount of performance or responsiveness. When trying to overtake on motorways, there was no response in sixth gear, which admittedly has long gearing for economy, so we tried fifth, which wasn’t much better, and fourth was only a marginal improvement. With 300 Nm, it has good levels of torque, but 130PS isn’t a lot of power for what’s supposed to be a sporty coupe. However the car is stable at motorway speeds, as well as being comfortable and reasonably quiet apart from some wind noise.
Despite the 19-inch wheels, the ride was acceptable on most roads, but such wheels and tyres don’t like potholes, and they do contribute to added road noise. The steering is reasonably responsive but the front-wheel drive chassis doesn’t have much grip out of wet roundabouts and ultimately, with this engine, the Astra is more about stability than fun – despite the coupe having improved HiPerStrut front suspension compared to the hatchback (which allows large wheels without significant impact on the ride). What we did find with this coupe, as we found with the diesel Astra hatch, is that there is a tendency for the revs to die when setting off from standstill, and the gearbox isn’t the smoothest-shifting of units.
The Astra GTC has an official fuel consumption figure of 62.8 mpg along with emissions of 119 g/km CO2. This is helped by the Start/Stop system, and is good for a coupe, and is class-leading along with the Volkswagen Scirocco and the BMW 1 Series Coupe 118d ES – if we describe the Astra GTC as being in the same sports coupe category. We averaged 51 mpg during our time with the car and the Astra does have an impressive driving range. There is an even more economical 109 g/km version on the way.
For such a good-looking coupe, the Astra GTC offers reasonable value. The Vauxhall Astra GTC 1.7CDTi costs £21,200, but our test car also had a number of options. These included 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels rather than the standard 18-inch alloys (£565.00), VXR exterior styling pack (body-colour front lower spoiler, side sills, rear lower skirt and rear roof spoiler) (£800.00), Navi 600 satellite navigation system (£855.00), ‘Sight and Light Pack’ (£230.00), mobile phone system with Bluetooth (£220.00), front and rear parking distance sensors (£385.00), space-saver spare wheel (£85.00), leather pack (£1050.00) and LED Rear lights (£115.00), taking the total price of this car to £25,505. Vauxhall’s FlexRide adaptive damping system is available as a £790 option across the GTC range.
There are two trim levels, Sport and SRi, which are available for all engines, and there are three diesel engine options and three petrol versions.
In terms of diesels, the 1.7 CDTi is 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. The 2.0 CDTi produces 165PS with 350Nm of torque, yet this still has a respectable combined fuel consumption of 58.9mpg and emissions of just 127g/km (with 18 or 19-inch wheels).
The 180PS 1.6-litre turbo petrol is the best version to drive, but it falls well short on economy compared to the diesel models. There are also two 1.4-litre turbo petrol units, with either 120PS or 140PS output.
Although the Astra is cheaper to buy, it’s likely that it won’t hold its value as well as a Scirocco.
The Vauxhall Astra GTC 1.7CDTi looks good, especially with the optional 19-inch wheels fitted to this car. It’s also practical for a coupe. It makes sense for company car buyers, as it has low emissions for this class of car, and so it also has low Benefit in Kind tax liability. However the diesel engine is noisy, and in 130PS form, it doesn’t have great performance. With this engine, it’s also not the most fun car in its class to hustle through corners.
So the Vauxhall Astra GTC 1.7CDTi is a bit of a sheep in wolf’s clothing – it looks good but isn’t outstanding under the skin – and so it gets a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10. The Astra GTC is basically a sound car but this engine does not seem to work as well as the 1.6-litre petrol as a driver’s car, although it’s the obvious green choice.
If you are travelling up and down the nation’s motorways on business and want to look sporty, then certainly consider this car. However in our view the Scirocco has the edge in terms of refinement and driving dynamics. If you like the Astra GTC and this is a private purchase, try a petrol engine; it won’t be as economical but it will be lighter, quieter, smoother, more responsive, and cheaper.
However there’s one other real problem for the Astra GTC – and for all other sports coupes. That problem is the Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT 86. With its light weight and incredibly adjustable rear-wheel drive handling, that car changes the expectations for all sports coupes, and the Astra and all of its rivals have a lot of catching up to do.
Fuel economy extra urban:
Fuel economy urban:
VED band D – £0
Company car tax liability (2012/13):
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