Europe's hot-hatch market is going to get a whole lot more competitive before the end of the year when GM unleashes its .
The UK is GM's biggest market for this class, and will take the lion's share of models when the Astra GTC goes on sale in a few weeks' time. It's also the reason why GM engineers have spent weeks honing the car's suspension to cope with the demanding, gnarled surfaces of the UK's roads. GM's premise is this: If the suspension can cope with British roads, it will be cope with any.
Key components—such as the HiPerStrut front axle—have been derived from the 320 bhp Insignia VXR. The HiPerStrut uses the Astra's existing pick-up points, but reduces the kingpin inclination angle by 44 percent, shortening the kingpin offset by 46 percent versus the MacPherson strut-equipped models thus helping to prevent torque steer.
Compared with the Astra hatchback, the GTC's ride height has been lowered by 0.6 in., while the wheelbase has grown 0.4 in. to 106 in. Tracks are wider, too, at 62.4 in. (+1.6 in.) front and 62.4 in. (+1.2 in.) rear.
The Astra's GTC compound crank/Watt's link rear suspension has also been revised, with bespoke roll-stiffness and roll-center height settings for this application.
The Astra GTC uses a rack-and-pinion steering system with speed-sensitive assistance. But to provide drivers with more steering feedback, the system's electric motor is mounted directly on the steering rack, as opposed to the base of the steering column. FlexRide, Opel/Vauxhall's adaptive damping system, will be available as an option across the GTC range.
Visually, too, the car has been distanced from its 5-door cousin, sharing only its door handles and antenna. In addition to a different grille, headlights and taillights, the upward curving `blade' feature line down the flanks is now focused to the front rather than the rear.
The GTC shares its engine range with the 5-door models: a 118-bhp 1.4-liter turbocharged petrol engine, a 138-bhp 1.4 turbo, a 163-bhp 2.0-liter turbodiesel and the range-topping 178-bhp 1.6-liter turbo. The smaller gasoline engines and the diesel get stop/start standard.
So, where is the hot VXR version? We'll have to wait until next year for that, but with a rumored 300 bhp and 330 lb.-ft. of torque, it's going to be worth the wait.