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The Vauxhall Astra will be the first model to get a performance overhaul under the firm’s new GSe brand – an electrified successor for the GSi nameplate.

Launching as a plug-in hybrid, the new range-topping, dynamically enhanced Astra GSe gets sharper handling, a tweaked, lowered chassis and uprated engine performance.

As with standard models, the GSe will be available in both hatchback and Sports Tourer guises. The model uses the same 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and 12.4kWh battery as the regular Astra plug-in hybrid already on sale, but its total output is boosted from 178bhp to 222bhp.

Vauxhall has yet to announce any performance figures, but the mechanically identical Peugeot 308 225 plug-in hybrid has a 0-62mph time of 7.7sec, a 146mph top speed and an electric-only range of 37 miles.

For its first foray into the electrified performance sphere, Vauxhall has fitted the Astra with GSe-specific tuned dampers and sports-calibrated steering and it has lowered the ride height by 10mm.

Upgraded looks include new 18in alloys, a bespoke front bumper, GSe badging and performance-themed interior detailing.

The arrival of a new GSe line was previewed by last year’s retro-styled Manta GSe concept and comes as part of Vauxhall’s plan to become a fully electric brand by 2028.

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