Plot a hot­ter course

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - CARSGUIDE -

THE QUES­TION I would like your take on the Holden As­tra GTC.

Brett White­head The Opel ex­per­i­ment in Aus­tralia was a dis­as­ter. Gen­eral Mo­tors’ Euro­pean sub­sidiary tried to po­si­tion the As­tra up-mar­ket but buy­ers weren’t pre­pared to pay a pre­mium and the brand lasted lit­tle more than a year. Most of the cars re­turned two years later wear­ing Holden badges and cheaper price tags. The three-door GTC strad­dles two seg­ments, com­pet­ing with smaller hot hatches and sim­i­lar-sized coupes.

CHOICES Holden As­tra GTC, $26,990

The As­tra GTC is $4000 cheaper and more pow­er­ful than the Opel it re­placed. Its 1.6-litre turbo four pumps out a healthy 125kW/260Nm in auto guise and 147kW/280Nm as a man­ual. It prefers 98 pre­mium fuel but is rea­son­ably thrifty, us­ing a claimed 6.9L/100km. A ca­pa­ble per­former on the road, it has a flex­i­ble en­gine and im­pres­sive corner­ing abil­ity. Crea­ture com­forts in­clude sat­nav, leather steer­ing wheel, smart­phone in­te­gra­tion and front and rear park­ing sen­sors. One no­table omis­sion is a reversing cam­era. Ser­vic­ing is $916 over three years.

Hyundai Veloster, $24,490

The base model is cheaper and looks sportier than the As­tra with a unique se­cond door on the kerb side. But it’s a bit of a sheep in wolf’s cloth­ing, as the en­gine puts out just 103kW/167Nm. A 1.6-litre turbo four with 150kW/265Nm costs $29,990. There’s no sat­nav but you get a reversing cam­era, cloth and leather sport seats, leather wrapped steer­ing wheel, rear park­ing sen­sors and key­less entry. Not as sharp to drive and the auto is in­de­ci­sive. Ser­vic­ing costs $747 over three years. War­ranty is longer at five years.

Ford Fi­esta ST, $25,990

A size smaller than the GTC but it’s the pick of the bunch to drive. The 1.6-litre turbo four is down slightly on the GTC (134kW/240Nm) but the car is much lighter. It also has a nice ex­haust note, grippy Re­caro seats and road­hold­ing abil­ity that shades all the rivals here. It prefers pre­mium but will run on stan­dard fuel and Ford claims it will use just 6.2L/100km. There’s no sat­nav and front park­ing sen­sors but it gets al­loy ped­als, leather steer­ing wheel and gear­knob and rear sen­sors. Ser­vice is $735 over three years, in­clud­ing flu­ids.

WILD­CARD Toy­ota 86 GT, $29,990

A lit­tle bit more ex­pen­sive but a pur­pose-built sports car rather than hot hatch. Fun rear­wheel drive set-up makes for an en­ter­tain­ing driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, with sharp steer­ing and sporty han­dling. Looks great too. The Subaru-built boxer en­gine is good for 147kW /205Nm, though peak out­puts are high in the rev range and ex­haust note is dull. It also takes 98 pre­mium and is thirstier, us­ing 7.8L/100km. Space is tight with no rear legroom and lim­ited lug­gage space. In­te­rior is fairly sparse but it gets a reversing cam­era. Ser­vic­ing is $720 over three years.

VER­DICT

It may be smaller but if you’re look­ing for a re­ward­ing hot hatch, the Fi­esta is the pick here. It’s the sharpest through the bends, has plenty of punch and sounds great, too

HOLDEN AS­TRA GTC

HYUNDAI VELOSTER FORD FI­ESTA ST TOY­OTA 86

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