Road Test: Vauxhall Astra Tech Line GT 1.7 CDTi 130PS ecoFLEX
Sector: Lower Medium Price: £20,195 Fuel: 65.7mpg CO2: 114g/km
As part of a range-wide refresh in 2013, Vauxhall’s Astra gained the new Adam-like winged grille and minor styling revisions across the board. This also broadened the choice of fleet-friendly Tech Line models to two – including the sporty-looking GT.
The basic formula is almost the same as the basic Tech Line. Spec levels are high, including satellite navigation with Bluetooth and digital radio reception, while P11d pricing is low which helps residual values and tax liability for drivers.
In the Tech Line GT, user-chooser appeal gets a boost from a few visual upgrades. These include 18-inch wheels, rather than 17-inches on the Tech Line, the same shark-finned bumper and bodykit as the Astra BiTurbo and sports seats inside. P11d pricing is lower than the Tech Line, and residual values are slightly higher.
The price for the larger wheels comes in terms of economy. Tech Line models with the same engine (in either 108bhp or 128bhp form) return 76.3mpg and emit 99g/km CO2, against the Tech Line GT’s 65.7mpg and 114g/km.
Vauxhall’s 1.7-litre diesel is due for replacement, but this familiar fleet powerplant can still hold its own. The more powerful of the two options, as tested here, fits the Tech Line GT’s sporty styling a little better, delivering a respectable surge of acceleration in the mid-range. But the lower-powered unit is more than adequate for motorway miles, and comes in at £1,120 less.
However, the new Euro 6 compliant 1.6-litre “Whisper Diesel” which has just joined the range brings this trim level down to 100g/km or 110g/km for the more powerful version which will supersede this engine. For the £180 price difference, it’s a no brainer.
There’s not much to find fault with. The Astra rides well even on its large wheels and is a very comfortable car to get around in, but even without the GTC’s suspension setup it also corners with confidence. Most long-distance grievances come from the infotainment system, which could be more straightforward to use and lacks the option to turn the screen off altogether – a frustration on unlit roads.
The Astra is such a ubiquitous part of the British road network, that it would almost be possible to blend in altogether. But with an aggressive new sense of style, the Tech Line GT allows drivers to take advantage of its many rational benefits while marking their own car out from the crowd.
Four years on the roads have been kind to the Astra, which remains a good looking if slightly conservative design still capable of holding its own on running costs. The Tech Line GT offers something a little more stylish into the mix, but makes much more sense with its new diesel engine than the ageing 1.7-litre unit.