The German carmaker's Opel GTC 1.4T is a racy-looking three-door hatchback with a surprisingly punchy 1,400 cc turbocharged engine
Hot hatch Opel GTC

IF anyone can claim to have both sensational styling and a practical power plant in one package, it would have to be Opel. The German carmaker's Opel GTC 1.4T is a racy-looking three-door hatchback with a surprisingly punchy 1,400 cc turbocharged engine.

The relatively small four-cylinder unit employs forced induction to produce a respectable 140 horses and 200 Newton-metres of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission to drive the front wheels, it enables the GTC to perform credibly while maintaining excellent fuel economy.

In fact, this is the same powertrain found in the Opel Zafira Tourer MPV but with a key dynamic difference.

While both models employ McPherson struts for the front suspension, the GTC uses a more complex version called the HiPerStrut or High Performance Strut. Opel says this reduces wheel camber changes during cornering while filtering out torque steer under hard acceleration, thus improving the steering and handling characteristics of this front-wheel-driven car.

Tackling fast corners

Then again, the 200 Nm available do not exactly test the limits of the HiPerStrut. The GTC is suitably responsive in town. At higher speeds, the well-weighted steering and slightly firm damping allow it to tackle fast corners confidently.

Under hard acceleration, you will be reminded of the relatively small engine but progress is still decent.

The main advantage, however, is that the GTC is extremely fuel efficient, requiring only 6.8 litres per 100 km or an impressive 14.7 km/l under the combined cycle.

GTC stands for Gran Turismo Compact and on paper, it may look a bit silly to give a name like this to a hatchback. But in the metal, it is easier to understand how the swoopy styling makes this hatch look so hot.

You may not agree with Opel when it says the GTC has a "coupé-like" profile but you will likely not disagree that the unusual roofline is distinctive, and that the whole car oozes machismo with its flared wheel arches and strong character line on the door. The massive 20-inch wheels fill the muscular rear haunches, giving the GTC a very strong on-road presence.

One special feature of the GTC is the panoramic windscreen. This single piece of glass - a $5,000 option - stretches from the cowl all the way over the front occupants to the middle of the car. Together with the deep side windows, this huge windscreen literally offers a new perspective.

Plenty of room

The GTC's 2,695 mm wheelbase allows two adults to sit comfortably in the rear with surprisingly good head and leg room. There's even space for a third passenger in the middle but only if he or she isn't too big.

The cabin is classic Opel in design but one nice touch is the red ambient light which glows around the lower centre console.

With its good looks and good fuel economy, the GTC is the rare car that is stylish yet practical.

SPECS

Opel GTC 1.4T

Engine 1,362 cc turbocharged

Gearbox 6-speed automatic tranmission

Max power 140 hp @ 4,900-6,000 rpm

Max torque 200 Nm @ 1,850-4,900 rpm

0-100 kmh 10.8 secs

Top speed 198 kmh

CO2 emissions 161 g/km

Price $143,000 (with COE)

Distributor Auto Germany

Tel 6922-3288