Our Rating



  • Smart styling

  • Modern interior

  • Generous equipment levels


  • Not as sporty to drive as you might hope

  • Quite pricey to buy

  • Tight rear seat space


If you look back at Vauxhall’s past, it nearly always offered performance models. More recently there has been VXR and GSI, but if you look back a few decades there was also its GSE nameplate. 

And it’s that latter nameplate that’s now making a comeback. But whereas the ‘E’ in the old GSE used to stand for ‘Einspritz’ –  the German word for ‘injection’ – these days it references something very different, Electric. 

Yes, that’s right, GSe is Vauxhall’s new sporty sub-brand that’s focusing purely on plug-in hybrid models initially, and then electric models in the future, as Vauxhall will only sell EVs from 2028. GSe gets its first outing on the Grandland and new Astra we’re trying here, but is it a welcome addition to Vauxhall’s line-up.

Vauxhall Astra GSe


The GSe adopts a more powerful plug-in hybrid powertrain than the regular Astra, and pairs a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor for a combined 222bhp and 360Nm of torque. That allows this hatchback to accelerate from 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 146mph. 

Once the 12.4kWh battery is charged, Vauxhall claims up to 40 miles of electric to a charge, which takes under two hours to fully replenish if you option for the quicker 7.4kW charger. The on-paper efficiency figures are very impressive – Vauxhall claiming 256.8mpg and 25g/km CO2 emissions – though you will need to do most of your miles on electricity to see those kinds of results.

Vauxhall Astra GSe

Ride and handling 

Vauxhall is keen to point out that the GSe is not currently a replacement to the old lairy VXR models, so the Astra isn’t dramatically different to drive than the ‘regular’ version but rather gets some small changes to liven up the experience, such as a sportier suspension setup and recalibrated steering. 

The result is a warmer Astra that feels more nimble and keener to drive, with body roll tightly controlled, and the ability to push the car through the corners. Despite the sportier suspension, the ride remains comfortable, even on rougher surfaces. 

The GSe is at its best when driving silently around town on electric power, however, as the engine and gearbox can struggle if you ask too much from it.

Vauxhall Astra GSe


The latest Vauxhall Astra is a significant step up in terms of design, and the cabin is no different. It adopts the firm’s new ‘Pure Panel’ design that merges a large touchscreen with a digital dial display, giving the cabin a cool and modern look. The clarity of the displays is excellent, too. The quality is largely good throughout, as well. 

Rear seat space in the GSe can be quite tight, however, with the otherwise excellent Alcantara-trimmed sports seats encroaching slightly into rear seat space. The boot, however, is a great size, particularly compared to rivals like the Volkswagen Golf GTE.

Vauxhall Astra GSe


The GSe arrives as the new range-topping model in the Astra line-up, and as a result, comes with a very generous amount of equipment included as standard. 

There are Vauxhall’s IntelliLux Pixel Matrix LED headlights, a 360-degree parking camera and a great head-up display. Plenty of safety equipment is also included, such as adaptive cruise control, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert to name just a few highlights.

Vauxhall Astra GSe


With the GSe’s status comes what is quite a significant price, with the model starting from £40,550. That might seem like a lot of money, but it’s only actually £150 more expensive than the top-spec Ultimate model with the less powerful hybrid setup, and without the GSe goodies – the only piece of equipment this sportier model misses out on is a panoramic sunroof. The only options you can choose from are the paint colour and the 7.4kW onboard charger for £500 too. 

Though a Cupra Leon e-Hybrid and Volkswagen Golf GTE might have slightly lower starting prices, you’d spend more on them to get the equivalent level of equipment to the Astra GSe. 

Vauxhall Astra GSe


The GSe is another welcome addition to the Vauxhall Astra line-up, and builds on the standard car’s stunning looks and smart interior with a punchy and efficient hybrid setup alongside a more enjoyable driving experience. 

Though it’s not as sporty or engaging behind the wheel as some might hope, if you want a warmer hatchback that’ll be cheap to run, it’s got plenty going for it.