IT could be V for victory in a sector that is dominated by Volkswagen’s Scirocco.
The latest challenger to arrive is Vauxhall’s Astra GTC and it’s a most impressive piece of kit.
It has a flashy, sporting appearance and interior design and comforts are worthy of high marks.
The GTC is available in two trims, Sport and SRi, with a choice of three petrol and three diesel engines.
My first taste of the car that replaces the old Astra Sport Hatch was the most powerful in the range with its 168bhp 1.6-litre 16v petrol turbo engine.
The SRi model was a joy to drive, right from the first minute I sat behind the three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel.
With its adjustable reach/rake steering column you can easily find the best position for you and the driver’s seat was comfortable and hugging enough – without being too cramped.
The car handled like a dream, especially on some winding roads where it displayed great agility at speed.
The six-speed manual gearbox was super slick and overtaking manoeuvres were easily done with the instant power response from a car capable of sprinting off the blocks to 60mph in 7.8 seconds and achieving a top speed of 137mph.
Official fuel economy figures also look good – 47.9mpg extra urban, 30.4mpg urban and 39.2mpg combined – but I’m afraid my average of 34mpg fell far short of those.
I wasn’t too surprised though as I pretty much ignored the signal telling me when best to move gear for fuel economy, preferring to enjoy the high revs from this engine.
There’s a surprising amount of room in this three-door model where two adults will have plenty of head and elbow room in the rear and three could travel at a squeeze. Leg room could be a bit tight, depending of course on the height of driver and front seat passenger.
Boot space is good as well at 380 litres and this expands to 1,165 with the rear seats folded.
With its quality finish, inside and out, and high spec you get a lot of car for the £21,480 cost of the test car.
Standard features on Sport models include daytime running lights, 18-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels, CD/MP3 player with stereo radio, DAB, USB connection with iPod control, cruise control and steering wheel audio controls.
The SRi additions included sports front seats, rain-sensitive windscreen wipers, automatic lighting control, front fog lights, multi-function trip computer, electric parking brake, hill start assist, front door sill cover and dark-tinted rear windows.
If the Astra GTC is the type of car you’re after get a test drive now. You won’t be disappointed.