Electric Astra hot hatch in the works

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The new GSe brand will replace VXR as Vauxhall/Opel’s performance-oriented model line, which a electrified hot Astra thought to be first in line.

Following its commitment to go all-electric by 2028, Stellantis-owned Vauxhall has outlined plans for the future of its sporty models, with a new GSe sub-brand that will take the place of the old VXR range.

The initials stand for Grand Sport Electric, and the new editions will sit at the top of their respective model lines. They will initially be powered by plug-in hybrid powertrains, before turning fully EV to coincide with the brand’s 2028 deadline.

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According to Vauxhall’s Acting Managing Director, James Taylor, “GSe will offer sports handling and looks combined with the performance and responsibility of electrified powertrains. Sitting atop the newly simplified Vauxhall range, the GSe name is both a nod to GSi performance models from our heritage as well being a complement to the GS versions in our line-up today. Vauxhall is committed to electrifying Britain, and GSe shows that performance and driving pleasure are set to be part of our electric future.”

It’s thought that the firm’s Astra five-door hatchback and Astra Sports Tourer wagon could be the first models to receive the GSe treatment. The Astra is already available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain offering up to 166kW, but this could be pushed further – potentially beyond 225kW by drawing upon technology already available through parent company Stellantis.

The Holden Astra which was once sold in Australia was available as a VXR, producing 206kW from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engined to the front wheels.

The new Vauxhall Astra is based on the EMP2 platform, which also underpins the 265kW Peugeot 508 by Peugeot Sport Engineered. However, while the Astra is partly powered by a similar 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, it’s not yet known if the car will inherit the PSE’s second electric motor on the rear axle to deliver e-four-wheel drive and the extra traction a performance-focused electrified hot hatch would need to be competitive. If it does, a sub-five-second 0-100km/h time should be easily possible.

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Vauxhall’s GSe treatment is likely to go further than just the Astra. In confirming its GSe sub-brand, Vauxhall highlighted that its Grandland family SUV is also available as a plug-in hybrid, pointing towards the fact that this raised-up model is ripe for performance tuning, being based on the same underpinnings as the Astra. There’s also a strong business case, with higher profit margins on performance SUVs.

The brand already sells many fully electric models, with the Corsa supermini and Mokka SUV both available with full-EV powertrains. An all-electric Astra-e is set to join the line-up next year too, and it’s possible that these three cars will be available in all-electric GSe form in the future.

Teasing the GSe sub-brand with a badge that shows bright lettering and gloss black trim – a combination seen on sister firm Opel’s Manta GSe ElektroMOD revealed last year – it’s likely that these colours will become the GSe signature, with accents applied to cars to highlight their halo status.

Sean Carson

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