Opel brings the “GSe” back to the road: Media put the top-of-the-line models to the test in the twists and turns of the Andalusian mountains.

Premium to the Power of Three

Configuration is almost as quick as sprinting from zero to 100, for one simple reason; the top-of-the-line models, Astra GSe, Astra Sports Tourer GSe and Grandland GSe, already have everything on board as standard. Alcantara seats. Inside. Black 18/19-inch alloy wheels. Fitted. LED headlights. On. A system power output of 225 hp or 300 hp and a special chassis anyway. After all, GSe stands for “Grand Sport electric”. And with the “GSe” models, Opel is not only putting the three legendary letters back on the road, but also making an impressive design statement – bold and pure.

The Rüsselsheim company has found the right setting for the “Media Drive Event” (23 January to 2 February) in Andalusia. The hotel “La Zambra”, located between Málaga and Marbella, with its white facade and blue turrets was in no way inferior to the top-of-the-line models. In the 1980s and 90s, royals, celebrities and VIPs, including the Rolling Stones, Lady Di and Julio Iglesias, resided here. And the 400 invited journalists were now the first guests to explore the hotel complex after an extensive renovation.

The starting point of the “Media Drive Event” for the GSe models was the designer hotel “La Zambra”, located between Málaga and Marbella.
Writing about the Astra Sports Tourer GSe, “Auto Zeitung” said: “A patented dynamic drive that is fun  but not annoying with excessive harshness.”
The Astra GSe “enjoys fast cornering over winding terrain”, writes the car tester of “kicker”. And the “Stern” author notes: “The Astra GSe, which has been lowered by 10 mm, goes around the bends with agility and directional stability thanks to the late-acting ESP.”

But who needs a pool and a mood spa when a fleet of 50 GSe models is standing outside the white hotel walls, just waiting to be driven. Before the start buttons of the plug-in hybrids were pressed, there was plenty of information at the media briefing. For example, the GSe philosophy, which is also committed to the spirit of the times: “The GSe models combine performance with responsibility in a fascinating way,” explained Helen Walter, “regular charging is the key to low consumption – for sporty driving enjoyment, adapted to today’s world.”

“GSe is for everyone who loves
technology and design – and values
an ecological lifestyle.”

Helen Walter– 

The Brand Product Manager, together with colleagues from PR, Product and Engineering, provided the media representatives with everything worth knowing about the new sub-brand. Opel CEO Florian Huettl was also there, as was the new Head of Marketing Rebecca Reinermann. And Harald Hamprecht, Vice President Communications, delivered impressive figures: “Every fifth Opel sold is now purely electric,” he explained, “if you add the plug-in hybrids, it’s even every fourth Opel. And Opel is winning new customers who didn’t drive an Opel before.”

Marketing specialist Helen Walter has been intensively involved with the Astra, its launch and now the GSe derivatives for two years.
300 hp, all-wheel drive, system torque of 520 Nm: with the Grandland GSe, the most powerful Opel car hurries over the Andalusian asphalt.
“All in all, the Grandland GSe can be driven more precisely through the bends, reacts more spontaneously to steering commands and does not sacrifice its sportiness for exaggerated harshness,” writes “Motor Zeitung”.
Eye-catching looks for the most powerful plug-in hybrid SUV in its class: The Grandland GSe comes exclusively with 19-inch alloy wheels – also with a black bonnet as an option. The designers have also added a special rear diffuser.

“Opel is winning new customers
who didn’t drive an Opel before.”

Harald Hamprecht

Up drive

Driving fun on 187 kilometres with bends, hairpin bends and high altitude: The driving route on day 2 led from the hotel “La Zambra” up into the Serranía mountains to Ronda – along the “Route of the White Villages”. And at the coffee stop in “La Organic” (photo on the right), the journalists were offered a tasting of fine home-made olive oils on request.

The two-day event had a clear focus – driving. From the airport to the hotel. Along the coast to Marbella. Sometimes in the Astra GSe, sometimes in the Astra Sports Tourer GSe, sometimes in the Grandland GSe. The highlight on day two: an entertaining 187-kilometre route through a breathtakingly beautiful mountain landscape. With long curves and hairpin bends, past the “Pueblos Blancos”, the white villages, up to Ronda, the most Spanish of all Spanish villages. In between, a coffee stop at “La Organic” surrounded by an olive grove – including a tasting of the finest olive oils. Whether Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn – automotive  journalists, TV and lifestyle reporters and influencers fed the social media channels with their impressions under the hashtag #OpelGSe.

Great press response

The media response to the GSe fleet was and is enormous: “Opel is attacking in the premium class,” writes the “Münchner Merkur”. The testers of “AutoBild” wrote “Great fun thanks to electric thrust” above the photo of the Grandland GSe –  and added a “sticky” remark about the chassis set-up of the Astra GSe: “You’d think they put glue on the slippers in Rüsselsheim, that’s how stable the GSe is to drive.” “On the road, the Grandland is very comfortable and pleasant. This is not least due to the ingenuity of the engineers,” notes the “Stern” writer, pointing to the advantages of KONI’s frequency-selective dampers (see also the interview with Dr Christian Hartweg). And while the “Rüsselsheim Echo” sums up the GSe concept as “fun with electricity”, the “Osnabrücker Zeitung” concludes “small e, big impression”.

Three questions for …
Dr. Christian Hartweg

The Vehicle Dynamics Manager is proud that the GSe models are designed, developed and manufactured in Rüsselsheim. And Eisenach, where the Grandland GSe is built.

Mr Hartweg, what awaits the driver in a GSe model? 
Great sport! The suspension set-up offers better road contact, better traction and extra stability in the corners. The focus is clearly on sportiness. Nevertheless, our engineers have also succeeded in refining comfort once again.

However, sportiness and comfort are actually conflicting goals…
We have resolved this – with frequency-selective damper technology from Koni. So the GSe models are fun to drive on the country road and the autobahn. And when “absorption capacity” is required on cobblestones in the city centre, an additional valve in the damper piston provides the necessary comfort. We have already had good experiences with this adaptive shock absorber technology in the Corsa OPC.

And what does the GSe steering have to offer?
The suspension setting alone improves the feedback to the driver via the steering wheel. Of course, we have enhanced this dynamic feedback even further. The steering response is nine percent quicker, the steering feel in the middle position is more precise and there is clearer feedback at high “G” forces. The driving route up to Ronda is perfect to experience the fine tuning of chassis and steering – including the 10-mm lowered chassis.

The Astra GSe combines performance with responsibility: 135 km/h in electric driving mode is offered by only a few premium manufacturers. And regular charging is the key to low consumption.
The purely electric range is 64 kilometres – for both the Astra hatchback and the Sports Tourer.
On the road on the “Pueblos Blancos” route: “Great sport in the chassis”, sums up “Autophorie”.

What she will remember most about the days in Málaga is the incomparable team spirit, says Natalia Pagano. “Whether car cleaners, engineers, PR or marketing colleagues: Everyone performs together as #TeamOpel – open, approachable, with great appreciation for each other,” says the Product Communications Manager. And the media representatives also notice this: “There was a lot of praise for the GSe models, but also the nice, open atmosphere. Opel is approachable, we are approachable – and that comes across.”

“Opel is approachable,
we are approachable – and
that comes across.”

Natalia Pagano

It was also clear that such an event was only possible through meticulous preparation and planning with a lot of attention to detail: “The event team around Tina Ludwig did a huge job,” says Natalia Pagano. And then, of course, there was the spectacular driving route up into the mountains: “520 Newton metres of maximum torque in the Grandland GSe up to Ronda – a dream or also: Grand Sport electric too!”

Whether at the media briefing, coffee stop or dinner – Natalia Pagano provided answers to the journalists‘ questions.

Great GSe history

The roots of the three letters lie in the 1960s and 1970s. Back then, GSE stood for “Grand Sport Einspritzung (Injection)” and, as with the Monza GSE (left), for sporty and highly-equipped Opel models. In 2021, the Manta GSe concept (right) caused a sensation. And now, GSe stands for “Grand Sport electric” – a new sub-brand that also includes the Astra family.

As the day draws to a close, the electrification offensive continues at full speed: Opel is launching its sporty future with the dynamic “GSe” sub-brand. And the plug-in hybrids are only the beginning.

February 2022

Photos: Opel/Dani Heyne