Vauxhall Astra GTC (2011–2015)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered: (3-door Coupe) 1.4, 1.6, 2.0 petrol / 1.7, 2.0 CDTi diesel [Sport, SRi, Limited Edition, VXR])


Vauxhall’s Astra GTC, a coupe three-door hatch version of the ‘J’-series MK4 Astra, offered couture styling with blue-collar underpinnings during a production run that started in 2011 and went on until just after the launch of the MK5 Astra ‘K’-series design in 2015. The GTC offered a great combination of looks and practicality. Powerful engines were available, but you don’t necessarily need them for the feel-good sensation that comes with GTC ownership. It’s a relatively affordable compact coupe that can stand wheel-to-wheel with apparently more exalted rivals – and often come out on top. Wouldn’t it smarten your driveway? Many potential buyers will think so.

The History

Vauxhall, you know, has quite a performance heritage. From the Prince Henry of 1911 to the fire-breathing Firenza models of the Seventies, the Eighties Chevette HSR rallycars or the Lotus Carlton super saloon, the last century saw plenty for the driving enthusiast to get excited about behind the wheel of something bearing the Griffin badge. None of these models though, were cars that sporting motorists were particularly likely to want to use every day.

Which was why in 1990, Vauxhall launched the Calibra, an affordable compact coupe based on ordinary underpinnings that was super-stylish, sensibly practical and, in its more potent forms, really very decent to drive. It was different enough from humbler Astras and Cavaliers to be desirable. Yet similar enough to remain affordable both to buy and to run. Curiously, the Calibra wasn’t replaced, nor was it really replicated in the Vauxhall line-up – until late 2011 and the launch of the car we’re going to look at here, this one, the Astra GTC.

This Vauxhall made its debut on the UK market at a time when interest in compact coupes seemed to be on the rise, with all-new models like the MINI Coupe and the Hyundai Veloster arriving to join a revised version of Renault’s Megane Coupe, the Peugeot RCZ and perhaps this car’s toughest competitor, Volkswagen’s Scirocco. None of these cars would have been seriously troubled had Vauxhall done little more than dress up a three-door version of the ordinary Astra family hatch – as had been the case with the previous Astra Sport Hatch and Astra coupe models that tried and failed to replicate the old Calibra’s appeal. But this GTC, this ‘Grand Touring Coupe’, was different. Sharing not a single body panel with an ordinary ‘J’-series MK4 Astra of the period, it was wider, longer, lower and more athletic looking. And though the engines would have been familiar to Astra folk back in 2011, a clever HiPerStrut suspension system meant that this GTC variant felt a bit sportier to drive.

This was, in short, a surprisingly desirable Astra. A 280PS petrol turbo VXR hot hatch variant joined the range in 2012. And shortly after, Vauxhall introduced a 200PS version of the petrol turbo 1.6, to bridge the gap between conventional variants and the VXR. When the MK5 ‘K’-series Astra range was launched in 2015, it didn’t include a Coupe/3-door body style, so Vauxhall kept the GTC in the showrooms for another year in conventional form – and the VXR variant continued to sell right up to the end of the decade.

What You Get

You expect a three-door coupe to be smaller than the five-door Hatch it’s likely to be based upon. But that certainly isn’t the case here, this GTC longer and wider than the more ordinary five-door hatch it’s based on (the fourth generation ‘Astra J’-series design, which sold between 2009 and 2015). This coupe variant featured a longer wheelbase - which explains the remarkable amount of space it can offer for both rear seat passengers and their luggage.

Getting in behind the wheel means opening one of the huge doors that are needed thanks to the extended wheelbase and coupe body shape – and that might be an issue if you’re tightly parked. Once installed behind the wheel though, it’s all pretty user-friendly, even if it isn’t very different from the layout you’d find in an ordinary MK4 pre-2015 Astra Hatch, despite Vauxhall’s attempts to lift the atmosphere with faux aluminium inserts on the centre console, air vents and doors. What is different from that MK4 Astra Hatch is the rear screen – which is a pity as it’s smaller in the GTC, slightly restricting rearward visibility.

Lift the tailgate and you’ll find yourself gazing at a boot that at 380-litres is actually 30-litres larger than that provided by that MK4 five-door hatch model.

What To Look For

The Astra GTC seems to have a reasonable quality record, but we did come across complaints of cabin rattles in the interior. And the aerodynamic skirt was frequently caught on kerbs. As is always the case with mainstream brand hatch models, you'll want to keep a look out for thrashed company hacks or ex-hire fleet vehicles. Ensure that the car has been serviced on the button and that the mileage on the service record stamp tallies with what the odometer says. It's also worth checking the car for accident damage, as many cars will be de-fleeted early if they've had a prang and have been repaired. Ask the seller explicitly if the car has had accident damage and inspect the usual points for overspray and kinks in the under-bonnet flitch plates. The engines tend to be tough units with no serious problems to report.

On The Road

Sporty drivers will be lusting over the frantic 280bhp VXR 155mph high performance version that sat at the very top of the range. Most GTC customers though, will probably opt for something a little more sensible. There are a couple of 1.4-litre petrol Turbo units developing either 120 or 140PS, the faster of which is still able to make sixty in 9.0s. Or there’s a choice of either 1.7 or 2.0-litre CDTi diesel power which can get a bit clattery in the upper reaches of the rev range. The 1.7 comes in either 110 or 130PS states of tune, while the 2.0-litre unit is altogether punchier with 165PS and 350Nm of torque, enough to make this variant feel probably the most potent of all the mainstream GTC models. All drive through a reasonably slick six-speed manual gearbox, with an auto gearbox option available on 1.4-litre petrol Turbo 140PS and 2.0 CDTi diesel models.


Ultimately, if you can get over the issue of buying into an Astra when maybe you’d started your search in this segment with an eye on something with an apparently more desirable badge, then this GTC is unlikely to disappoint. A performance car for the everyday.