GSI out, GSe in as Opel revives past moniker for sporty electrified Astra
GSe follows the same route as the once again dormant GSI nameplate by offering no added performance over that of the standard new Astra.
GSe name returns after almost forty years, but with a change in definition.
Opel has sprung an unexpected surprise by revealing the first performance flavoured Astra since the internally designated L went on-sale in Europe last year.
Despite reports dating back four years of The Blitz bringing back the iconic Opel Performance Centre or OPC designation, the new flagship model revives an equally iconic moniker from its past, GSE albeit with a lower capitalised “e”.
Used well over forty years ago to determine performance versions of the Commodore and Monza coupe, the designation has, however, changed meaning from Grand Sport Einspritzung – the latter meaning fuel injection in German that become shortened to Injection and therefore GSI – to Grand Sport Electric as per Opel’s eventual all-electric vehicle switch by 2027.
Essentially a modern interpretation of the GSI name revived in 2018 first for the previous generation Corsa and then the Insignia, the Astra GSe doesn’t feature any power upgrades underneath the bonnet, but rather a series of exterior and chassis tweaks.
Based on the flagship Ultimate trim level, the bespoke GSe exterior touches comprise black 18-inch alloy wheels, sportier front and rear bumpers, slightly wider door sills and a gloss black lower air dam.
Sitting ten millimetres closer to the ground than the standard Astra, the GSe, which will be sold either as a hatch or Tourer estate, receives a recalibrated Electronic Stability Programme system, oil-filled Koni frequency selective dampers, stiffer springs and a GSe specific tuned electric power steering rack. Only Alcantara trimmed seats were confirmed inside.
Nestled up front, the GSe’s electrified powertrain, long mulled for future OPC models, consists of the 1.6 PureTech turbocharged petrol engine and an 81 kW electric motor.
Combined, the setup produces an identical 165 kW to the standard Astra, along with an electric only range of 50 km. An eight-speed automatic gearbox prevails as the sole method of transferring the amount of twist to the front wheels.
Anticipated to go on sale in Europe either towards the end of the year or in 2023, pricing for the Astra GSe remains unconfirmed, though it is not expected to come to South Africa as Opel has already given the newcomer the thumbs down due to the declining sales of C-segment hatches relative to crossovers.
As such, the all-new Mokka serves as the Astra’s indirect replacement for now.