According to its makers, the Opel Astra GSe is not just a sporty variant of a well-known model. No, we should see GSe as a new sub-brand that will be the exclusive domain of Opel’s most dynamic models. We want to experience that.
What is striking about the Opel Astra GSe?
In an exhaust-grey past, the Opel Commodore GS/E (Grand Sport/Einspritzung) was the sporty top model from Rüsselsheim. Under the long hood was a 150 hp fuel-injected straight-six. In 1984 the Opel Monza GSE followed, a large coupé with 180 hp. To make the Monza even more exciting, Opel also supplied it with a digital set of instruments. This is standard with Opel’s new GSe models, but the electronics do not stop there.
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We already knew the plug-in hybrid powertrain from the regular plug-in Astra, for the Astra Grand Sport electric Opel has ticked it up with 45 hp to 225 hp. To bring the extra power to the street, the Astra GSe got harder springs. These work together with advanced dampers that work harder as the road surface deteriorates (Frequency Selective Damping). The Astra was also lowered by 10 mm. A different tuning of the steering provides a more dynamic steering feel.
Of course, those upgrades do not go without a show. The special GSe front bumper of the Opel Astra has a larger lower grille, which makes the nose appear to float even closer to the asphalt. In profile, the black roof and the largely black 18-inch wheels provide the distinction.
If Alcantara were leather, Opel would have had to slaughter a complete herd of fluffy cows for the interior of the Astra GSe, this synthetic fiber is so prominently present. It’s a shame the color gray has the upper hand, although yellow stitching, faux carbon fiber accents and GSe logos do their best to liven things up.
What are the advantages of the Opel Astra GSe?
After the start, the Astra GSe moves silently. Unless you switch on the sport mode, because then the combustion engine soon expects its electric brother to need help. In Hybrid mode, the electric motor lasts remarkably long on its own, without having to have a velvet right foot. Opel promises an emission-free top speed of 135 km / h, but do not expect that you will come close to the stated electric range (64 km) or the official consumption (1.2 l / 100 km, 1 in 83.3). An average of more than 1 in 30, on the other hand, seems quite possible to us.
If you choose the sport mode and put on your lead shoes, the Opel Astra GSe will be kicked forward willingly. It shoots to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds. Smooth, but not an earth-shattering launch. The intermediate sprints feel more impressive, the top speed of 235 km / h may also be there.
When we heard that the car had stiffer springs, we feared for our fillings and put our kidneys on the belt. Unnecessary, because the chassis manages to forge tightness, feedback and comfort into a beautiful whole. The steering wheel, specially designed for the Astra GSe, looks attractive and the steering gives us more than enough confidence on the winding mountain roads of southern Spain. Hellen does the Opel Astra GSe to a modest extent. And when the going gets really tough, the sports seats with extendable seat hold you tight.
What are the downsides of the Opel Astra GSe?
With a sporty car like the Opel Astra GSe, we expect that you can also operate the automatic transmission manually. The small paddle shifters look promising, yet as a driver you are regularly overruled by the electronics – even if you choose the sport mode. Especially on a nice mountain road that feels like unwanted interference.
No matter how good the chassis of the car is, it cannot disguise the considerable weight (approx. 1600 kg). The car is therefore never really light-footed. Not a disaster, but for a ‘new dynamic sub-brand’ it is a bit of a shame.
An annoyance in the minor suffering section concerns the top finishing edge of the wide tunnel console. During heavy cornering, that thing – depending on your sitting position – regularly pokes painfully in your right leg.
When does the Opel Astra GSe come to the Netherlands and what is the price?
The hatchback variant of the Opel Astra 1.6 Turbo Hybrid GSe will be at the dealer very soon. As long as the seller has not yet told you what the car should cost, you will keep a big grin on your face as an Opel enthusiast. You think back to the GSi’s and OPC’s of the past, because the Opel Astra GSe looks cool and has ample equipment. That is also allowed for a starting price of … 49,499 euros. And then Opel also dares to ask for an additional price of 299 euros for a 7.4 kW on-board charger. Bland, because because of the halving of the loading time (from approx. 4 to 2 hours), everyone wants that thing.
To begin with, the Opel Astra GSe is only available as a five-door hatchback. The Sports Tourer station wagon variant will come to the Netherlands in a few months. The price is not yet officially known, but we expect around 51,000 euros.
What do I think of the Opel Astra GSe?
The Opel Astra GSe knows how to combine economy and good performance in an entertaining way. But in this he is anything but unique. Its French cousin, the Peugeot 308 HYbrid and the Volkswagen Golf GTE (245 hp) do a similar trick and are even cheaper. The sporty optical accents do add another dimension to the GSe logo. However, I think it is rather exaggerated to speak of ‘a new sub-brand for the most dynamic models’. The performance of the Opel Astra GSe is not impressive enough for that. Whether that is the case with the 300 hp Opel Grandland GSe, you can read here soon.
The excellent driving characteristics are nice, but you can rarely really enjoy it on Dutch roads. For 4750 to 9000 grand less, we think the 180 hp Astra 1.6 Turbo Hybrid is a smarter investment. Or … to throw a bat in the chicken coop: how about a Tesla Model 3 with 325 hp? It currently costs 44,990 euros and then you also receive a 2950 euro subsidy …