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We drive new Astra GTC

2012-03-21 14:50

SPORTY ROOTS: Opel's new Astra GTC adds a more athletic blast to the Astra range in two fun derivatives. Image gallery

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer OPEL
Model ASTRA GTC
Engine 1.4 turbo petrol; 1.6 turbo petrol
Power 103 kW at 4900 rpm; 132 kW at 5500 rpm
Torque 200 Nm from 1850-4900 rpm; 230 Nm from 2200-5400 rpm
Transmission six-speed manual
Zero To Hundred 9.9 seconds; 8.3
Top Speed 201 km/h; 220 km/h
Fuel Consumption 5.9 litres/100km; 6.8 litres/100km
Boot Size 360 - 1165 litres
Steering speed-sensitive power steering
ABS with ESP, traction control, brake assist
Airbags front, side and curtain
Front Suspension McPherson strut; HiPerStrut front suspension
Rear Suspension Watt's link
Price R287 000; R304 000

Author: HAILEY PHILANDER

 

Opel’s GTC sports coupe is one hot-looking car. It is, after all, the car on which the smoking-hot Opel Astra OPC is based.

So, in making this car, Opel has taken the humble Astra hatchback, shaken off all the exterior bits and replaced it with a shiny, new voluptuous body.

While this GTC looks remarkably similar to the family-friendly Astra hatchback it shares none of its exterior panels with the five-door. It also has a longer wheelbase, is lower (since the GTC is fitted with a sports suspension) and wider thanks to tracks that protrude by an extra 40mm on the front axle and 30mm on the rear.

This, along with the rear diffuser and a spoiler, contributes to a car that is inherently sportier than the humble Astra.

MORE THAN SKIN DEEP


The styling differences are subtle but not wholly unnoticeable. The GTC gets an all-new front-end treatment that appears pinched when compared with the five door and displays a more strongly accented shoulder line that extends from the door releases all the way beyond the rear light cluster.

The most prominent feature, of course, is the muscular curvature over the rear wheel arches, giving the sporty coupe a true hunkered-down appearance. Look at the competition in Volkswagen’s Scirocco and the Renault Megane Coupe to see that big bums are de rigueur in this segment.

There are two GTC models: the 1.4 turbo Enjoy and the 1.6 turbo Sport.

The 1.4 Enjoy comes with the same four-cylinder turbo, six-speed manual pairing seen on the all-new Meriva (also launched at the Free State event) although, since start/stop is now standard (for the first time on an Opel product in South Africa, nogal), the comparative fuel consumption is way down at six litres/100km.

The 132kW/213Nm 1.6 Sport is powered by the four-cylinder turbo previously seen (in various states of tune) on the Astra five-door hatchback and the Corsa OPC. Being able to draw a comparison between the two, the 1.4 definitely seems the pick of the bunch. While the difference in power is a hefty 29kW on paper, with the 1.4’s punchy character the deficit is definitely less pronounced on the road.

BUILT FOR SPORTS


And although both cars come with a sports suspension, the 1.6 Sport uses Opel’s state-of-the-art HiPerStrut (or high performance strut) front suspension for the first time in a local Astra model. This system is designed to improve the GTC’s handling by improving grip and reducing torque steer, giving extra assurance at the front wheels.

Steering, through the meaty steering wheel, also generates masses of feedback with the rack-and-pinion arrangement featuring speed-sensitive electronic power aid.

With its sharper steering, firmer ride and the bonus of extra traction displayed through the few bends dotting the Free State landscape aside, the GTC was quietly – rather than frighteningly – more athletic than its five-door sibling, for example.

Neither GTC feels overtly sporty, but if you’d prefer a spot of drama in your life then GMSA expects the hard-as-nails Astra OPC to be launched here later in 2012.

For now, both Astra GTC models are reasonably well kitted.

The 1.4T Enjoy is outfitted with cruise control, front-loading combination radio/CD audio system, daytime running lights and 18” alloys.

The 1.6T Sport adds extra cosmetic goodies such as chromed accents, leather upholstery, cruise control with a speed-limiter, sill plates, auto aircon and a centre console with two cupholders, a closable storage bin and a rear 12V power socket.

OPC TALK


All models come standard with ABS, ESP electronic stability control, traction control and emergency braking assistance. Additional safety equipment includes front, side and curtain air bags.

And while it’s being billed as the sportier sibling, the GTC is no less practical, sporting a boot whose volume expands from 380 to 1165 litres with the rear seats folded down.

Local Opel representatives make no bones about the fact that they do not expect the Astra GTC to drive the brand’s hatchback volumes in South Africa. That’s why we have the “regular” Astra hatchback. The sexier GTC is, however, seen as the car to boost Opel’s local profile and place it back in the public eye as a desirable option in the sporty hatchback coupe segment.

What will the competition make of this? We’ll have to wait and see… at least, until the fun-loving GTC-based OPC arrives.

PRICES
Opel Astra GTC 1.4T Enjoy - R287 000
Opel Astra GTC 1.6T Sport - R304 000


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