Monday, 2 April 2012 11:22 AM
Heritage is extremely important to automotive manufacturers. Reminding potential customers of great cars of the past can bring back great memories, all helping punters along towards the potential purchase of a new car from that rich-history brand.
Price, economy, residuals and badge-power are also key factors, but if some blasts from the past provoke a fond smile then the constantly competing manufacturers have got at least one hook into ever more savvy customers.
Well, the SRi badge from Vauxhall brings back sunny back lane good-time memories for me – in a Cavalier 2-litre SRi, to be exact – and that was a cracking car that just felt so fast at the time. Even with just 130bhp.
But this new SRi – in Astra GTC coupe form – has a good dollop more punch than the ol’ Cav. We’ve got 180bhp of turbocharged petrol power to play with today, and with quoted performance stats of 60mph in 7.8secs and a potential top speed of 137mph, I’m looking forward to letting this new SRi loose on some twistys.
Vauxhall Astra GTC 1.6 Turbo SRi petrol 180PS first drive review
For me, it’s the rear three-quarter view of the new Vauxhall Astra GTC that works the best. Its high rear-quarter cheek bones, modern taillight shape (though LEDs at £115 extra here), and SRi roof-tip spoiler all look coupe-cool on this Olympic White GTC SRi. But while these 18-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels fill the big wheel arches to near-capacity, I think Vauxhall could have gone a little jazzier with the design.
The front-end of the GTC doesn’t gel so well for me, however. The headlights match the taillights for modern and sharp styling, but I don’t find much in the way of deign detail over the bonnet, front bumper and front wings. The sculpting only really starts from the side indicators with that downward-swooping crease through each door.
Into the interior:
Part of the £21,480 OTR prices for this Astra GTC 1.6 SRi are the half-leather front sports seats, and there is comfort aplenty here. The centres are a manmade cloth that’s extremely soft and welcoming to touch, while a full range of driver’s seat and steering wheel adjustment make for an excellent GTC SRi driving position. Even for me at 6’ 4” tall.
The rest of the interior space is cleanly executed with a solid and quality feel, and enough leather and soft-touch surfaces for where your hands go. But, for me, it’s the driving position that’s key to comfort and faster-driving-engagement and this Astra GTC is excellent from that point of view.
This Astra GTC SRi strikes a good balance between performance, economy, inner space and toys, and accessible enjoyment on your favourite back lanes.
The 1600cc, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine turns in some plenty good enough quoted performance stats – 180bhp, 230Nm of torque, 60mph in 7.8secs and a 137mph top speed – and on the twisting, sunlit back lanes it turns in an enjoyable drive, too.
The turbo’d engine makes some good punch for quick getaways and the 6-speed manual gearbox and not overly stiff suspension blend comfort and sporty feel; with the a little more emphasis on the sport. Which is what we like.
I found the steering a touch light for my taste, but all in all, it’s hard to fault to GTC SRi’s good fun nature. Just jump in, give it some stick, and it’ll lap it up. It feels grippy and safe though the bends and shows solid composure during very hard braking.
You’d have to go easy to try and match the quoted combined economy figure of 39.2mpg, but I think a mix of town and motorway driving without too much pedal-to-the-metal action will see pretty close to that target. CO2 sits at a reasonably hefty 168g/km, but the payback is a spirited turbo-drive whenever you want it.
Ten second sum up:
The Vauxhall Astra GTC 1.6 Turbo SRi is an enjoyable and engaging drive and features a good quality interior with a cracking driving position, all wrapped up in a more stylish coupe body, that I think is indeed deserving of its SRi badge of pride.
Prices and availability:
Vauxhall Astra GTC 1.6 Turbo SRi petrol 180PS is priced at £21,480 OTR. Price as tested, £22,670, including Navi 600 sat-nav and multimedia (£855), mobile phone system with Bluetooth (£220) and LED taillights (£115). Available now.
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