Plot a hotter course
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.
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