Reader Road Test - Vauxhall Astra Mk 3 Gte

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 16v Sport

The Vauxhall Astra GTE Mk1 was introduced in October 1983, in direct competition with the VW Golf GTI and Ford Escort XR3I. In terms of performance they were all well matched apart from the fact that the Golf weighed a significant amount less. The Astra had 115bhp and a 0-60 time of 8.5 secs which at the time was very respectable, whilst Recaro seats and an updated trim level graced the interior. The engine was a 1.8i 8v unit which was bullet proof and if service intervals were kept, would run for a good 150,000 miles. The main problem with these early Mk1's was the dreaded body rot which affected them quite badly.

They were poorly undersealed from the factory so corrosion was a major point as the vehicles aged. Today very few have survived, however, these cars although not as quick as the MK2 16v's, still have enough top-end power to keep the driver happy. The handling is excellent on these cars, they stick to the road like glue, corner well and give the person driving enough confidence to utilise the power available.

Where the GTE falls down somewhat is in its mid-range acceleration in the higher gears. It pulls well from rest, however the car only seems to pull hard when the rev counter shows 5000 rpm. I currently own a Mk1 GTE and I think its a great car. It looks the business, although not super-fast, it has enough power for the constant trips down the motorway it takes. It gives great fuel economy (35mpg) and is the last of the aggressive looking hot hatch backs.

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