Astra: An everyman car with a touch of sportiness
VAUXHALL has always managed to combine its everymanmotoring philosophy with atinge of sportiness. Down theyears, its run-of-the-mill Vivas,Novas, Astras and Victors havehad their fair share of sportsmodels to add a spark of interestThe Astra GSE
They add interest to a brand which has kept
Mr and Mrs Average and their children on the
road for generations. The faster GSi and VXRs
were very credible performance models over
GSi and VXR are no more and as Vauxhall
looks ahead to 2028 when it will only sell electric models, it’s keen to reignite some fire in the
Enter GSe – which stands for Grand Sport
Electric – Vauxhall’s new sub-brand that will
focus on producing more performance-orientated versions of hybrid models, and then
EVs in future years. It gets its first outing with
Vauxhall’s latest Astra, but does GSe suitably
liven the hatchback up?
Vauxhall is keen to stress that GSe is “not intended” as a direct replacement for the VXR, so
we’ve got no bespoke high-performance models, but instead tweaked versions of the brand’s
The latest generation of Astra is ripe for this,
given what an improvement it is over its preV AUXHALL has always managed to combine its everyman
motoring philosophy with a
tinge of sportiness. Down the
years, its run-of-the-mill Vivas,
Novas, Astras and Victors have
had their fair share of sports
models to add a spark of interest.
decessor. While it’s already available as a ‘180’
hybrid, the GSe boasts more power, a bespoke
chassis and styling revisions to help make it a
more compelling proposition.
The Astra GSe uses a powertrain that will
be very familiar to those that know about their
Stellantis products. It pairs a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor
for a combined 222bhp and 360Nm of torque.
Drive is delivered to the front wheels, with an
eight-speed automatic gearbox being adopted.
It takes 7.3 seconds to dispatch 0-60mph,
with the Astra GSe capable of 146mph when
maxed out. A 12.4kWh battery is also used,
which when fully charged allows for a claimed
40-mile range, pushing it into the 8pc benefitin-kind tax bracket for company car drivers.
Vauxhall claims up to 256.8mpg and 25g/km
CO2 emissions, though you’ll need to complete
nearly all your mileage on electric to see these
kinds of figures.
If you come to the Astra GSe looking for a
replacement for the old VXR model, or even
a Volkswagen Golf GTI, you could be a touch
disappointed. This is no hot hatch, but a rather
lightly tweaked version.
There’s a decent amount of performance
when the Astra is nicely warmed up, while
body roll is well contained through the corners. By hybrid hatchback standards, it handles well too, and can be pushed through the
bends without losing grip. Despite its sportierfocused ride, it largely remains comfortable,
even on rougher stretches of Tarmac.
But the Astra GSe performs at its best when
you’re just pottering about town, making the
most of the credible electric range. Too much
throttle action and the engine screams into life,
and there’s too much lag between the power
sources if you ask a lot from it.
Vauxhall’s chief designer is keen to stress
he didn’t want a “boy racer look”, likely a nod
to the old Astra VXR, so the result is one that’s
been subtly made more aggressive. There are
revised bumpers that aim to give the model a
wider look, and a set of new alloys and a full
gloss black look, from its badging to its roof.
The result is smart.
Inside they have a touch of sportiness with
new Alcantara-trimmed sports seats, which
are a great addition, along with a bespoke ‘GSe’
steering wheel. The cabin is smart too, with
good ergonomics courtesy of the right balance
of screens and physical controls. The quality
is largely good, though a few too many gloss
black plastics cheapen the look somewhat.
As for space, the disadvantage of those
chunky front seats is that rear space isn’t the
best, with taller adults really having to squeeze
into the back – a Cupra Leon e-Hybrid offers a
lot more room. Boot space, however, is generous, with clever packaging ensuring the addition of the batteries doesn’t compromise boot
volume. The GSe comes in a single high-spec
grade and sits at the top of the Astra line-up.
The level of equipment, therefore, is generous,
including a head-up display, matrix LED headlights, a 360-degree parking camera and ‘Pure
Panel’ which includes a large touchscreen and
digital dial display merged together in one
smart piece of glass.
There’s little feeling that Vauxhall has been
stingy with equipment. All of this equipment
doesn’t come cheap, though, with the Astra GSe coming in at £40,550. Yes, more than
£40,000 for an Astra. This might sound expensive, and it is, but it comes in at only £150
more than the regular 178bhp hybrid model in
top-spec Ultimate grade, though does miss out
on that car’s standard-fit panoramic roof and
The Vauxhall Astra GSe arrives as a stylish,
efficient and well-equipped hybrid hatchback
that is a very credible option for those wanting
to reduce their running costs or for company
But it suffers from the muddle that comes
from being a sporty hybrid. This is a powertrain which, by and large, is much better suited
to cruising silently around town or sitting at
a motorway cruise, than it is being thrashed
around a twisty road, and for that reason we
reckon the regular Astra is a better choice
overall. That tiny price increase, however, most
certainly gives enough reason to validate the
Vauxhall Astra GSe: £40,550; 1.6-litre petrol
engine with electric motor emitting 222bhp;
Top speed 146mph and 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds;
Economy 256.8mpg; Emissions 25g/km; Electric
range 40 miles; Three years warranty, 60,000