Opel is bringing the Grand Sport Electric sub-brand, GSe, to life. The first two model series with electrified top models are Grandland and Astra. We have already driven the models and were surprised by one in particular.
The exterior of the Opel Grandland SUV has a modern brand face, but the interior equipment around the infotainment system and the instruments immediately shows that it still comes from the older of the currently available vehicle generations of the carmaker from Rüsselsheim. This makes Opel's decision to give this Grandland a new top model to lead the new sporty GSe sub-brand all the more interesting. Announced in October 2022, the plug-in hybrid went on sale in January, just like the Astra GSe. The Astra Sports Tourer GSe, the station wagon variant, is to follow in the spring. springerprofessional.de and ATZ/MTZ have now been able to drive the Grandland GSe - just like the Astra GSe - on the road for the first time.
Grandland GSe: A different, better car
Without exaggerating, it can be said that the Grandland GSe is a different, significantly better car than its brother from the previous model range. This is also due to, but not limited to, the 221 kW (300 hp) of system power that comes from a 1.6-liter turbo gasoline engine (147 kW) and a dual-E engine system (81.2 kW front axle, 83 kW rear axle). Fed by a 14.2 kWh high-voltage battery, they provide the additional propulsion on both axles for sporty demands. 520 Nm of maximum torque and 6.1 s for acceleration from a standstill to 100 km/h sound almost illusory, especially for Grandland connoisseurs who are probably all too familiar with strained engine noises. And yet, for a true sports version of the SUV, this is also somehow the least that can be done. The three engines also have enough to do when it comes to speed.
However, the chassis configuration adapted for the GSe is even more responsible for the really surprisingly agile driving pleasure. First and foremost, the steering, brakes and suspension are more agile. The suspension comes with frequency-selective damping and makes a big difference on the road. Understandably, Koni's FSD dampers don't respond as prominently as a fully adaptive suspension from the premium segment, but they still make for much more comfortable and at the same time more precise handling. Bumps that are unpleasant for the driver are absorbed much better by the additional valve in the damper than the previous standard models of the vehicle were able to do. This also works surprisingly well in faster corners.
Astra GSe: Less difference, more fun in curves
The Opel Astra GSe and Astra Sports Tourer GSe have also been given a corresponding suspension optimization with Koni FSD technology. During our test drive, we were able to try out the five-door model, which can be ordered as a GSe with 165 kW (225 hp) of system power. It is also based on a 1.6-liter turbo gasoline engine that delivers a maximum of 133 kW (180 hp). Supplemented by an electric motor with 81.2 kW, the Astra configuration is thus weaker on paper and without electric all-wheel drive than the SUV GSe. The PHEV's drive battery is also smaller: it has an energy content of 12.4 kWh.
Subjectively, however, the Astra GSe is not much inferior to the Grandland. If you don't want to dive into much worse roads, but want to be sporty on decent asphalt routes, the lower build feels more impressive than with the Grandland's elevated seating position. Yes, it lacks a few kW and with 360 Nm of maximum torque also pulling power in a direct comparison, but the Astra logically copes better with tight, fast corners in return.
The difference to the "conventional" model is not as great in the Astra as in the Grandland. In the first test, we liked the Astra GSe slightly better than the Grandland GSe. However, both provide an aha experience as the new top models in the range and show that plug-in hybrids are not only useful for emission-free short trips in this segment, too, but can take car agility to another level.
The short test drives we were able to complete are not sufficient for a fully comprehensive test assessment, and any differences between the Astra five-door and station wagon on the road are still open to us. springerprofessional .de and ATZ/MTZ plan to subject the GSe models to detailed tests soon – we will report further.