Vauxhall Insignia GSi


Vauxhall's Insignia GSi is a deceptively quick package. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

The fastest Vauxhall Insignia, this GSi model, isn't quite as wild as its Insignia VXR predecessor was but it's smarter and arguably faster in the real world. Four wheel drive is still a key part of the package but this time round, there's the option of diesel as well as petrol power, with near 150mph performance either way. Plus hatch and estate options, a slicker 8-speed auto gearbox and some clever electronics to get torque to the tarmac. It's a lot of car for under £35,000.


You have to wind the clock all the way back to 1993 to find the last time that a 'GSi' badge was used on a performance-minded Vauxhall model. But the 'VXR' moniker used since then seems to have been a casualty of fundamental changes which have gone on in the brand in recent times, so this fastest version of the company's second generation Insignia gets the same 'GSi' label that's always been used on Opel versions of the conglomerate's same designs on the Continent.

If you're hoping for something as wild as the model this car supposedly replaces, the previous Insignia VXR SuperSport, then you're going to be disappointed. That older Insignia had a 2.8-litre petrol V6 good for 325PS and 170mph. The fastest Insignia GSi this time round gets a 2.0-litre for cylinder turbo unit putting out a much humbler 260PS. But bear with is because there's still much to like here.

Driving Experience

Given this Insignia GSi's lack of the throaty V6 powerplant used in its VXR predecessor model, you might be surprised to hear that Vauxhall has timed it as being faster around the industry's benchmark test track, the infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife; 12 seconds faster in fact. That's quite a lot for a car fronting up with 65PS less power. But of course it's not what you have but how you use it. This GSi model's sophisticated intelligent all-wheel drive system uses a state-of-the-art rear torque vectoring system. Here, a clever twin-clutch set-up - the so-called 'Twinster diff' - can apply torque to one or both of the rear wheels independently. When cornering quickly, more torque is sent to the outside rear wheel, improving traction and ensuring that there's far more of a feeling of precision when you turn in. That's ideal if, for example, one of your wheels happens to be slightly off the ground, as it might be if you were taking a fast, bumpy turn at speed.

Two GSi engines are available this time round, both mated to a freshly designed, super-slick 8-speed auto gearbox that comes with the requisite steering wheel paddles. The petrol unit we've so far referred to manages 400Nm of torque and 62mph from rest in 8.4s (about a second and a half slower than the old VXR). Alternatively, there's a much less sporty-feeling Bi Turbo diesel variant with 210PS, though this derivative does offer 480Nm of torque and improves the 62mph sprint time to 7.4s. Either way, the brand's 'FlexRide' driving modes system is standard, complete with adaptive damping.

Design and Build

Whether you choose this car in Grand Sport hatch or Sports Tourer estate form, you'll get a package of subtle sporting styling cues. The GSi logo can also be seen at the rear of the car, which carries a spoiler to deliver additional levels of downforce to the rear axle. The rear also features two chrome-edged exhaust pipes, and smart, pronounced chrome air intakes can be found near the front wheels. All Insignia GSi's come equipped with unique wheels and tyres, combined with Brembo four-cylinder brakes at the front. The rims are special 20-inch, flow-formed items, and when combined with the lighter Michelin Pilot Sport 4-S tyre, each item weighs 1.5 kilograms less than the regular 20-inch wheel/tyre on other Insignia models.

Inside, there are AGR-certified sports seats developed by Vauxhall provide increased lateral support and long-distance comfort. These offer ventilation, heating, massage and adjustable side bolsters. There's a leather steering wheel with a flattened lower section, plus aluminium pedals and black headlining.

Market and Model

Vauxhall emphasises the performance-per-pound value proposition of this car: that'll depend on your perspective of course. Prices start at around £33,000 for the Gran Sport hatch model in 2.0-litre Bi Turbo diesel guise; there's a £400 premium if you want the 260PS 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine. Either way, there's a £1,500 premium to pay if you want to move into the Sport Tourer estate body style.

The asking figures include 20-inch wheels, a GSi bodykit, a special sports chassis and the FlexRide driving modes system with adjustable damping. Customers can specify the seats in one of two leather combinations, each featuring the prominent GSi emblem. Infotainment is taken care of by a 'Navi 900 Intellilink' system that comes with a large 8-inch screen. As with other Vauxhall models, you also get the brand's 'OnStar' package that allows you to create in your car a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, plus there's a smartphone app that can remotely lock or unlock the doors, check your oil life or, if you've lost this Vauxhall in a busy carpark, it can sound the horn or flash the lights. Plus if your Insignia is stolen, 'OnStar' can disable it so it can't be started.

Cost of Ownership

If you go for the petrol model, you can expect 32.8mpg on the combined cycle and 197g/km of CO2; for the Sport Tourer estate, you're looking at 32.5mpg and 199g/km. Either way, it's certainly a big step forward from the figures delivered by the old 2.8-litre V6 Insignia SuperSports (26.4mpg on the combined cycle and 251g/km). Bi Turbo diesel Insignia GSi customers can expect to manage 38.7mpg and 186g/km - or 38.7mpg and 187g/km for the Sport Tourer.

On to maintenance issues. Both engines share the same one year or 20,000-mile service intervals and you can download a provided 'My Vauxhall' app onto your phone that sets up reminders about servicing and MoTs and helps you find the most convenient garage to your location. If anything goes wrong that's not supposed to, you're covered by a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty that includes 'Vauxhall Roadside Assistance' breakdown cover. This can be extended by up to two years and up to a maximum of 100,000 miles at extra cost.


There's been a subtle change of emphasis in the move from VXR to GSi branding for this hot Insignia - but that'll probably net this variant more sales. It doesn't have the smart street presence of smart premium German rivals, but it's arguably as capable as any of them.


CAR: Vauxhall Insignia GSi

PRICES: £36,965-£38,465 – on the road


CO2 EMISSIONS: 186-199g/km

PERFORMANCE: [Grand Sport 2.0 Bi Turbo diesel] 0-62mph 7.4s / Max Speed 145mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: [Grand Sport 2.0 Bi Turbo diesel] (combined) 38.7mpg

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: twin front, side & curtain airbags, ABS, ESP

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: [Hatch] length/width/height 4897/1863/1455mmEE: