Holden: 2015 Astra GTC Sport review

Holden: 2015 Astra GTC Sport review

From the back it’s got a bit of Alfa Brera about it. From the side the long front overhang and short rear overhang give it a muscular, long look – much longer than it actually is. The Astra is a car that has some presence, managing to pack some particularly alluring lines into a car that’s conveniently sized for the city.

Holden Astra GTC 2015 rear quarterUnfortunately that tidy, Italian-looking rear means visibility out the back is pretty average and there’s only reversing sensors and no camera. There are also proximity sensors on the front and they’re very sensitive – better safe than sorry, and you can turn them off if you want.

Holden Astra GTC 2015 sideThat long look is helped by being a two door with long doors. They’re longer than would be in a four door car to allow access to the back seats, and they’re quite heavy. Their length means the seatbelt is quite far behind you and, as the seats are wraparound, this makes it a bit of an effort.

Holden Astra GTC 2015 dashboardThe central dash is like an expert Tetris game of buttons to control the media system and the air conditioning. I like buttons better than touchscreens basically because some touchscreens are dangerous to use when driving, but this was a bit overkill as the MyLink system usually is a bit more ergonomically implemented in cars like the Commodore. I would have Holden Astra GTC 2015 front interiorexpected better button usage on the steering wheel and stalks, and less on the dash, and this is where the Astra shows its age a little. Once you know where the buttons are it’s fairly simple to operate.

MyLink has a 7-inch screen and comes with satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone connectivity (with audio streaming), and app support (Pandora and Stitcher) if you plug your phone in via USB.

The automatic wipers didn’t work at all, but the automatic headlights with high beam control functioned perfectly.

With a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and 6-speed Active Select automatic gearbox it puts its 147kW and 280Nm down on the ground well. Holden quotes 6.9l/100km combined using 95 RON petrol or higher. I was having too much fun to get anywhere near that figure.

Surprisingly this hatchback came with a tow bar. It’s rated to 1200kg with trailer brakes or 750kg without trailer brakes.

I can’t fault the driving experience for the price or intent of the Astra GTC. It’s got enough usable power to get past slower traffic and not have to worry about having to gun the engine on the hills to maintain speed. It’s not a hot hatch – there’s not quite enough power or tautness in the suspension – but it radiates a pleasing warmth, and that’s going to be fine for the majority.

It turns in sharply with very little body roll. Its tyres, which are 235mm wide and wrapped around 18-inch alloys, give excellent lateral grip with minimal tramlining; there’s no fidgetiness and it’s happy cruising on the motorway or ripping up sharper corners where you’ll be glad of the bucket seats which stop you sliding into the door.

The electronic aids such as electronic stability control, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution weren’t intrusive, and the traction control got a workout in the wet spring weather.

The Astra GTC is a beautifully proportioned sports hatchback which provides an engaging drive. Some of the interior ergonomics are showing their age, but the body styling isn’t, and the price is in the right place for a car which is realistically almost a generation behind some of the competitors. However, we’ve already seen what the next Astra model will be in a year or two, and it doesn’t look anywhere near as good as this model.

Price: $41,490

Pros

  • Dynamically very good

Cons

  • Interior ergonomics could be much better


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