Vauxhall’s new high-performance, plug-in hybrid version of the Astra hatchback is now available to order with prices from £40,550. For the time being, the go-faster family car will only be offered in five-door hatchback form, but the five-door Sports Tourer estate is expected to arrive later this year.

For now, then, the starting price gets you a plug-in hybrid powertrain that combines a 178 bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 108 bhp electric motor. The result is a 222 bhp powertrain that drives the front wheels alone, offering a 7.5-second sprint from 0-62 mph.

That combination also works hand in hand with a 12.4 kWh rechargeable battery, giving the car up to 40 miles of electric range before it needs to use a drop of petrol. In theory, you could use the GSe as an electric car, and if you can do that most of the time, it promises to deliver impressive economy. According to the official efficiency test, the Astra GSe emits just 25 g of carbon dioxide every kilometre, and it can return 256.8 mpg.

Vauxhall Astra GSe

Naturally, the bigger, heavier Sports Tourer is set to be slightly less eco-friendly, but only very slightly. That more practical car is expected to return the same fuel economy figure, but it will emit 26 g/km and the battery will only take it 39 miles on a single charge.

As well as offering the most powerful propulsion system, the Astra GSe will also give customers a slightly sportier experience than the standard car. Tweaked suspension with Koni damping technology is designed to improve the ride and handling, while the steering has also been recalibrated. According to Vauxhall, the GSe’s steering response is 9 percent faster than that of the conventional Astra.

Vauxhall Astra GSe

With those changes, the GSe sits 10 mm lower than standard, further differentiating it from its siblings, while Vauxhall has fitted a selection of visual updates. As standard, the GSe comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, a black roof and black logos, and the interior has been given similar treatment.

Those in the front get “performance” seats trimmed in Alcantara, while there’s also a GSe-specific steering wheel as standard. Despite the sporty changes, the GSe models come with all the usual safety equipment, including autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring.

The Astra GSe is available to order now from Vauxhall dealers, with the first deliveries scheduled for the summer. The Astra Sports Tourer GSe will go on sale in the summer ahead of deliveries later in the year. Vauxhall is yet to confirm prices for the estate, but they are expected to be marginally higher than those of the hatchback.

Gallery: Vauxhall Astra GSe