Car Enthusiast - click here to access the home page


First drive: Vauxhall Insignia GSi diesel. Image by Vauxhall.

First drive: Vauxhall Insignia GSi diesel
Vauxhall is relaunching the GSi badge as a subtle high-performance addition to the Insignia line-up. We've driven the diesel option.


<< earlier review     later review >>

Reviews homepage -> Vauxhall reviews

Vauxhall Insignia GSi diesel

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Vauxhall is re-establishing the GSi brand, representing high-performance cars that sit between the prosaic mass-market models in a range and the more extrovert and hardcore VXR specials above. The aim is for subtle, but engaging, performance in a package that is biased more towards everyday use than lap times on a track. The first of the new-generation GSi cars is the Insignia, offered in Grand Sport hatchback and Sports Tourer estate body styles with a choice of petrol or diesel power.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Vauxhall Insignia GSi diesel
Price: 33,375 on-the-road
Engine: 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: eight-speed paddle-shift automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door hatchback
Top speed: 145mph
0-62mph: 7.3 seconds
CO2 emissions: 186g/km (VED 800 first 12 months, then 140 per annum)
Combined economy: 40.4mpg
Power: 210hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 480Nm at 1,500rpm
Kerb weight: 1,772kg
Power-to-weight ratio: 118.5hp/tonne

What's this?

Here we test the new Vauxhall Insignia GSi in Grand Sport guise, with a diesel engine under the bonnet. It's a twin-turbocharged four-cylinder unit that isn't entirely new, but for the GSi it puts out a useful 210hp at 4,000rpm, backed up by an even more substantial 480Nm of torque from just 1,500rpm. It's mated as standard to an eight-speed automatic gearbox (with paddles behind a sporty new steering wheel for manual operation). That in turn feeds output to all four wheels, but the Insignia GSi has a trick up its sleeve at the rear, where there's a twin-clutch torque distribution system that allows a fully independent split between the two back wheels. This enables torque vectoring and active control of 'yaw damping', all mapped into the car's driver-selected settings.

On start-up, the car is in its default mode and the driver can choose Tour or Sport by pressing single buttons or, to access the Competition setting, by double-pressing the ESP stability control button. These modes control the power steering, throttle response, gear shift points and the standard FlexRide adaptive damping system, too. The rest of the chassis is based on the regular Insignia's, with a 10mm lower ride height, stiffer springs, revised anti-roll bars and a new software tune for the electronic power steering. The front brakes have been upgraded to Brembo items, while the bespoke 20-inch alloys wear Michelin Pilot Sport 4-S tyres.

Other than those rims, the GSi model can be identified by a modest visual upgrade, extending to side sills, a small rear spoiler, double-exit exhaust, GSi badging and chromed air intakes up front. Inside, there's a pair of lovely GSi-branded sports seats, alloy pedals and a new steering wheel. Prices for the Insignia GSi are 33,375 in Grand Sport format, or 34,875 in Sports Tourer guise, regardless of engine.

How does it drive?

Vauxhall has nailed the brief, but the Insignia GSi is so subtle that it takes some decent wheel time to truly appreciate it. At first it feels like a slightly stiffly sprung regular diesel Insignia. The engine is a little gruff sounding (more so in Sport mode unless I'm imagining things), but quite smooth and the automatic transmission works seamlessly. The steering is pleasantly light and in fact, even in Sport mode, it doesn't weight up unnecessarily. While it's not ultra-direct, it's a highlight of the driving experience, as the weighting is so good and there's even some information about front-end grip transmitted through the rim of the steering wheel.

Even in the regular driving modes there's great low-down response from the engine, making the Insignia feel light (it's considerably lighter than the old Insignia VXR, but still heavy by any normal measure). The transmission is very well-judged, too, meaning that, even on a twisty mountain road, we rarely found a reason to take manual control of the shift points. And on that same piece of road, we discovered a subtly engaging chassis in general. It helps that the spring rates and damping haven't been increased so much as to ruin the car's bump absorption abilities, so it's really good at covering ground quickly regardless of the quality of the surface. The damping is particularly noteworthy, as it gives the body fine control at all times, seemingly in all driving modes.

And the four-wheel-drive system makes all this cross-country ability accessible regardless of the weather conditions. Even on the specialised tyres, we had no problem with a late-night drive in sub-zero weather. But the best thing was that all this competence is underlaid by a willingness to engage the driver. There's loads of front-end grip and when you learn to lean hard on that and ease the power back in on the exit of a corner, you can sense the torque vectoring at work, 'over-speeding' the outside rear wheel and giving the Insignia a rear-lead sensation. It never feels truly like a rear-wheel-drive car, but it's far more interesting than a merely front-drive one, while allowing drivers of all skill levels to make the most of the performance on tap.


We heartily approve of performance cars that are designed to be used every day. No matter how much we love hardcore cars that focus solely on the driving experience, there's no doubt that those with a little more usability built in have wider appeal. The GSi badge seems to tap into that and the Insignia is a worthy host to reinvent the brand. Our only reservations centre around its relative inefficiency and a high price, which are likely to limit demand, as it will be seen to compete with cars from premium marques. Saying that, you do get a lot for your money in the Vauxhall and there's no doubt that a load of sophisticated engineering has gone into the GSi's creation.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain

Shane O' Donoghue - 19 Feb 2018    - Vauxhall road tests
- Vauxhall news
- Insignia images

2018 Vauxhall Insignia GSi. Image by Vauxhall UK.2018 Vauxhall Insignia GSi. Image by Vauxhall UK.2018 Vauxhall Insignia GSi. Image by Vauxhall.2018 Vauxhall Insignia GSi. Image by Vauxhall.2018 Vauxhall Insignia GSi. Image by Vauxhall.

2018 Vauxhall Insignia GSi. Image by Vauxhall.2018 Vauxhall Insignia GSi. Image by Vauxhall.2018 Vauxhall Insignia GSi. Image by Vauxhall.2018 Vauxhall Insignia GSi. Image by Vauxhall.2018 Vauxhall Insignia GSi. Image by Vauxhall.


Internal links:   | Home | Privacy | Contact us | Archives | Old motor show reports | Follow Car Enthusiast on Twitter | Copyright 1999-2024 ©