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New Car Reviews

New Car Review | Opel Astra GSe

Published 7th February 2023Read Time 15 min

Good Stuff 👍

Enhanced chassis setup, decent battery range

Bad Stuff 👎

Doesn’t feel special enough, outright performance

What is the Opel Astra GSe?

The Astra GSe is a sportier version of the German PHEV.

Those of a certain age might remember sportier Opels carrying the GSE badge, signifying that this was something a little special. Now in the age of electrification, that name is being resurrected but taking on a slightly different meaning. We may not have the wilder OPC cars from Opel anymore, but the German marque is keen to augment its current range with some considered tweaks that it hopes will appeal to keener drivers.

How about the looks of the Opel Astra GSe?

Sportier looks enhance the Astra GSe without going over the top.

The GSe moniker, which stands for Grand Sport Electric, represents the sportiest iteration of Opel’s plug-in hybrid tech thus far. Reflecting that, the design is subtly improved with the addition of a new front bumper that gives the impression of increased width. This bumper ties in nicely with the distinctive all-black ‘Vizor’ grille and headlight panel. As with higher-spec Astra models, the GSe gets contrasting black door mirrors and roof, while exclusive 18-inch alloy wheels are styled to be both sporty and aerodynamic, with a look influenced by the one-off Manta GSe ElektroMod. 

There’s a small GSe badge alongside the Opel logo at the rear and Astra wordmark. Despite this being the sportiest of the Astra models, there are no visible exhausts. Instead, there’s a small gloss black diffuser across the base of the bumper. A roof spoiler extends down around either side of the back window, helping airflow and emphasising the upward-sloping C-pillar. The Astra was by no means a bad looking car to start with, and the GSe treatment does enhance how it looks, but it stops short of being a fully-blown hot hatch with bulging bodywork, something that prospective buyers might appreciate.

Dave Humphreys
“On fast, flowing roads, the Astra quickly settles into a lovely groove, and the mix of combustion and electric power allows it to cover ground at a decent pace though it doesn’t feel as potent as it could”
Dave Humphreys AA Ireland Contributor

What is the inside of the Opel Astra GSe like?

The modern interior looks sharp but lacks a splash of colour.

The Opel Astra GSe’s cabin has a modern look and feel. You’ll first notice the dual-screen dashboard, which appears as one single panel, with the infotainment touchscreen angled slightly towards the driver. We like that Opel has retained physical buttons for tasks such as adjusting the cabin temperature and volume, things you do all the time. There are shortcut buttons to jump to frequently used menu pages in the infotainment system. The multifunction steering is an ideal size and the buttons on it are clearly laid out making them intuitive to use right from the outset.

New sports seats look the part and carry the GSe logo on them, though this is the only place inside the car that tells you what it is. Otherwise, it looks no different to the rest of the Astra range, which we think is a mistake. There’s a lot of black plastic throughout, and even though some of it is nicely textured, it leaves the interior feeling a bit darker than it ought to be. This is also true when sitting in the rear seats. Yes, there are decent levels of headroom and legroom for passengers in the outer rear seats, but the middle position is more compromised.

 

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What is the Opel Astra GSe like to drive?

A sweet chassis setup but lacks outright performance.

The Opel Astra GSe takes the existing plug-in hybrid powertrain and ups the performance to a total output of 225hp and 360Nm. Further to that, the Opel engineers also calibrated the electrically assisted steering to add more feel and feedback to the drive. The suspension also gains upgraded dampers from Koni that absorb the bumps while maintaining body control during more enthusiastic driving. On fast, flowing roads, the Astra quickly settles into a lovely groove, and the mix of combustion and electric power allows it to cover ground at a decent pace though it doesn’t feel as potent as it could. When pressed harder, the 1.6-litre petrol engine quickly begins to sound strained. Even though Opel offers the option of activating a digitally augmented sound in the Sport mode, it’s not the sonorous soundtrack driving enthusiasts might be expecting. Having the electric motor helps with providing added torque, and when you lift off the accelerator in this mode, it has an increased rate of energy recovery back to the battery. 

At times the eight-speed automatic transmission seems to labour over which ratio to serve up next, and pulling the paddles on the back of the steering wheel doesn’t guarantee you’ll get that downshift you crave. If you dial back the pace to six or seven-tenths, the Astra does get back to its comfort zone and delivers a more polished performance. In some ways that is equally as frustrating as the chassis underneath feels more than capable of handling more power and performance.

Settle back into everyday commuting and it is a pleasant and reasonably refined car to drive, but then again, so is the existing 180hp PHEV version. Its hybrid mode switches very smoothly between the petrol engine and the electric motor and the latter has sufficient power to pull the Astra along with ease. It’s in that day-to-day driving when you start to appreciate the comfort and refinement of the Opel.

What is the range of the Opel Astra GSe?

The Astra GSe uses a 12.4kWh battery with enough capacity to provide up to 64 kilometres of electric driving. Even in colder months, that driving range should be enough to cover all or most of the average daily commute without resorting to the petrol engine. With its capacity being that size, recharging it can be done in just under two hours.

Which Opel Astra GSe should I buy?

Hatchback or Estate?

You can also have the Astra GSe an estate body, which Opel calls its Sports Tourer. It gets the same suspension and steering treatment while offering increased carrying capacity. The five-door hatch has a slightly lower weight and would be the more visually appealing option to some. Sitting at the top of the model range means you get almost everything you’d want with the Astra GSe, but that comes with a hefty price tag of €52,695, which for a plug-in hybrid isn’t very cheap.

Is the Škoda Fabia Monte Carlo safe?

Four-star Euro NCAP score

The Opel Astra GSe is a reasonably safe car; in 2022, it obtained a four-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash test, performing well for driver and occupant protection. 

Verdict 👀

The Opel Astra GSe does a solid job of delivering performance and efficiency, but it doesn’t seem deserving of having a whole sub-brand name dedicated to it. The fact that other models within its parent group, Stellantis, offer the same 225hp output as part of their regular line-ups is conspicuous. While Opel offers upgraded suspension, the lack of extra visual features doesn’t help make this car seem more special than the rest of the Astra range. 

Spec Check ⚙️

Opel Astra GSe

Engine

1.6-litre four-cylinder with an electric motor

Power

225 PS

Torque

360 Nm

0-100km/h

7.5 seconds

Fuel Economy

1.2 l/100km (combined)

Top Speed

235 km/h

Transmission

8-speed automatic

CO2

25-26g/km

Annual Motor Tax

€190

Luggage Capacity

352-litres

Price as tested

€52,695

For more information log-on to www.opel.ie

For our video review of the Opel Astra click here.