In May 2021, Opel/Vauxhall hinted at the rebirth of "GSe" with an electric restomod project based on the Manta. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, the Stellantis brand confirmed the three letters will come back for sporty cars equipped with hybrid or purely electric drivetrains.
Instead of "Grand Sport Einspritzung" (Grand Sport Injection), it now stands for "Grand Sport Electric." Leading the way is the 2023 Astra GSe in hatchback and estate body styles.
The electrified performance formula uses a plug-in hybrid setup with a combined output of 222 bhp (225 PS / 165 kilowatts) and a generous peak torque of 360 Newton-metres (265 pound-feet). That said, it’s less than the Volkswagen Group's Skoda Octavia RS iV, VW Golf GTE, and Cupra Leon eHybrid, with all three providing 241 bhp (245 PS / 180 kW) and 400 Nm (295 lb-ft).
If the Astra GSe’s output seems familiar, there's a perfectly good reason. The mechanically related Peugeot 308 has the same numbers. They’re provided by a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine working together with an electric motor, a 12.4-kWh battery pack and an eight-speed automatic transmission sending power to the front wheels.
Compared to a regular Astra, the GSe sits 10 millimetres (0.4 inches) closer to the road and benefits from reworked shock absorbers at the front and rear axles. The engineers from Rüsselsheim have also tweaked the steering for a more direct response while fitting new 18-inch alloy wheels derived from those of the Manta GSe mentioned earlier.
Aside from mechanical changes, the spicy hatchback and estate duo has a slightly more aggressive exterior with redesigned bumpers along with an upgraded interior featuring sporty seats that come wrapped in Alcantara and are exclusive to this version. GSe badging inside and out lets everyone know it's not a run-of-the-mill Astra.
The sporty plug-in hybrid derivative of its popular model sits at the top of the Astra lineup and represents a stepping stone for Opel/Vauxhall to become a purely electric lineup in Europe from 2028. All brands part of the Stellantis conglomerate will bid adieu to combustion engines in their passenger cars by the end of the decade, some earlier than others.
In the UK under the Vauxhall brand, the Astra GSe and Astra Sports Tourer GSe plug-in hybrids will go on sale towards the end of the year with deliveries scheduled for early 2023.