Publication date: 7 February 2023
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer GSE

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer GSE

Not about the numbers, but about the experience

Review - In 1970, Vauxhall used the label "GSE" for the first time. Back then that stood for "Grand Sport Einspritzung" and indicated exclusive versions with extra luxury and a sporty character. Now the legendary label is back, but with two major changes. It now stands for "Grand Sport Electric" and is also applied to everyday cars. Does this preserve the magic of GSE?

The first GSE models were large sedans and sports coupes, namely the 1970 Vauxhall Commodore and the 1978 Vauxhall Monza. That's quite a difference from the 2023 Astra estate car! Yet, Vauxhall believes that GSE can make a difference precisely in a family car. Anyone who, due to family expansion, is forced to say goodbye to a hobby car, could still find exclusivity in a GSE model.

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer GSE

And that exclusivity starts with the looks, of course. The Astra already had a black bar connecting the headlights. For the GSE, a more aggressive-looking front bumper, black roof and black mirror caps are added. In addition, the GSE has unique 18-inch rims.

Space and equipment

The GSE features sports seats with integrated headrests (which are not high enough for everyone). In addition, alcantara upholstery provides a special look. Due in part to the large sports seats, legroom in the rear is moderate.

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer GSE
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer GSE

The "Sports Tourer" (estate) driven here has a longer wheelbase than the Astra hatchback (5-door) as well as a longer overhang behind the rear wheels. That makes for a much larger luggage space. It is 103 cm long and has a maximum capacity of 1,635 liters (1,554 liters for the plug-in hybrid). This makes the Astra Sports Tourer averagely spacious for a car in this segment.

The layout of the dashboard is at odds with that of the classic GSEs. There the rule was: the more dials and gauges, the better. It didn't matter if they showed meaningless information, it looked interesting and that's what mattered. The Astra, on the contrary, has a "detox cabin" and that means that everything superfluous is seen as an unwanted clutter. Therefore, the number of buttons and levers is minimal. Two screens together, with a small break just behind the steering wheel rim, form a single unit and provide controls for virtually all functions. Even the layout of the screens is minimalist, for maximum tranquility in the interior.

„When the two engines join forces, the Astra GSE is eager and decisive, but never overtly fast“

The equipment is modern and complete. Despite being the most exclusive version of the Astra, the GSE is not the most luxurious. For example, Vauxhall's smart matrix headlights are only available as an option. What does come standard are an infotainment system with navigation and a package of active safety features (accident prevention) under the collective name "Drive Assist."

Plug-in hybrid

GSE henceforth stands for "Grand Sport Electric". and so the drive comes from an electric motor. Or rather: half the drive. In fact, the Astra is a plug-in hybrid, also known as PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehcile). This powertrain consists of a 180 hp / 250 Nm 1.6-liter petrol engine plus an electric motor. Together these develop for 225 hp / 360 Nm (the standard Astra plug-in hybrid produces 180 hp / 360 Nm). This gives the Astra two faces.

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer GSE

With a full battery (2 hours of charging), the Astra can travel about 60 km on the electric motor alone. Then the Astra is quiet, quick and smooth like an electric car. When the battery is empty, the gasoline engine takes over most of the drive. Only when climbing or accelerating does the electric motor then assist on the reserve that the electronics always leave in the battery. The difference between all-electric and hybrid mode is slight. Both the response to the accelerator and the driving noise remain virtually the same, which is a great achievement by Vauxhall.

When the sport mode is selected, the Astra shows a completely different character. Then both engines join forces for maximum performance and it is as if the car always has a tailwind. The GSE then reacts eagerly to the accelerator and builds up the power to a peak all the time for extra thrills. Despite its ample power, the Astra GSE is not a decidedly fast car. The weight is too high for that. Despite a "Sound Enhancement" system, the car remains so quiet that the sensation of speed is slight.


The big difference between a standard Astra and this Astra GSE is in the handling. The GSE is equipped with dampers that react differently depending on the frequency of bumps. This provides its own balance between sportiness and comfort. In addition, the steering has been made more direct (9% according to the engineers) with a more clear center position. Therefore, even when driving calmly, it is clear that this is no average Astra.

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer GSE

Unfortunately, this also makes it more noticeable that this is a heavy Astra. The driver clearly notices that the mass wants to go straight ahead and in corners that are steered too quickly the car clearly has understeer (tendency to slide over the front wheels). Of course, electronics prevent this from actually happening. Also good to know: despite the increased liveliness, the GSE is never so nervous that passengers are easily nauseated on a twisty course.

At the same time, the better communication with the mechanics makes the GSE a much more interesting car to drive than a standard Astra. The latter prefers to cancel itself out, while the GSE involves the owner in driving. For those who do not like driving, the GSE is therefore a waste of money. On the contrary, those looking for a functional car that also offers driving pleasure and exclusivity, the GSE is a welcome addition to the existing range.

Finally, the Astra GSE and Astra Sports Tourer GSE share the same suspension technology, but with minor modifications to compensate for the different weight. According to Vauxhall, this gives them the same handling. During the test, however, this estate was perceived as slightly firmer and therefore slightly more dynamic. So when in doubt: choose the Sports Tourer.

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer GSE


What does the classic GSE label do for a contemporary family car? A lot, but not too much. GSE henceforth stands for a (partially) electric-powered version with a sporty character. The differences in outfit are minor, partly because the Astra already has an imposing appearance by nature due to the black panel between the headlights ("Vauxhall Vizor").

The (extra powerful) plug-in hybrid drive provides additional comfort and lower costs in daily use. When the two engines join forces, the Astra GSE is eager and decisive, but never overtly fast. The modified suspension ensures better communication between mechanics and driver and thus a more intense experience. And that is exactly what the GSE is all about: it is not about the numbers on paper, but about the experience.

  • Strong and decisive
  • More intense experience than with standard Astra
  • Moderate legroom in the rear
  • Noticeably heavy with a tendency to understeer