Sporty plug-in hybrid Astra GSe breaks cover | Top Gear
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Sporty plug-in hybrid Astra GSe breaks cover

Vauxhall’s new GSe performance badge is embracing the firm’s electric future

Published: 27 Sep 2022

Have you been holding off on the purchase of your new Astra because it wasn’t quite sporty enough? Well fear not, because Luton has come to your rescue with the new GSe-badged variant of what is almost certainly one of the nation’s top 30 cars. 

Haven’t heard of the GSe badge before? That’s because it’s a new electric-themed performance sub-brand from Vauxhall – which stands for ‘grand sport electric’ – and this is its first car. The company has committed to go all-electric by 2028, so it can’t keep pumping out go-faster petrol cars willy nilly. That’s why this spicy new version of the Astra comes with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, it's a sort of smart-casual approach to performance driving.

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Come back, it’s not all that bad – Vauxhall says that it has worked hard to make sure the car offers “the optimum balance between ride comfort and performance-oriented handling”. The chassis has been given a bit of tweaking – it sits 10mm lower for that extra dynamic feeling, the steering has been recalibrated and the car fitted with unique springs on the front and rear suspension. Trick dampers try to provide a blend of both comfort and sporty handling, while the ESP has been tuned to provide a bit of extra tyre squeal before the orange light flickers on. 

Don’t worry that people won’t spot you in your new GSe – the front bumper has been tweaked and the 18in alloy wheels have been inspired by the Manta GSe concept from 2021. Inside you get Alcantara-trimmed sporty seats up front for a bit of atmosphere. 

Vauxhall hasn’t given out many figures for the new car – we know that it’ll pump out 223bhp and 266lb ft of torque, and we have the frankly meaningless official fuel consumption figure of 235mpg and emissions of 25g/km CO2. At least the latter number will do wonders for the company car brigade. 

But if we put our Sherlock Holmes-style deerstalker hat and monocle on for a second, we’ll spot that the identically powered Peugeot 308 Hybrid 225 manages the 0–62mph run in a middling 7.5secs (7.6 for the estate), has a 146mph top speed (83mph in EV mode) and has an electric range of 39 miles from its 12.4kWh battery. 

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