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Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer fast, functional family holdall

PUBLISHED: 11:41 09 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:41 09 July 2018

Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer is as rewarding to drive as it is roomy. Picture: Vauxhall

Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer is as rewarding to drive as it is roomy. Picture: Vauxhall

Vauxhall

Vauxhall’s GSi is back in the shape of the elegant new Insignia range and the Sports Tourer estate is a true grand tourer, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer's styling makes it a model of restraint.  Picture: VauxhallVauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer's styling makes it a model of restraint. Picture: Vauxhall

I enjoy a wolf in sheep’s clothing – a car that doesn’t need to shout performance because actions speak louder than words. There’s something about a fast family wagon that’s as rewarding to drive as it is roomy to live with.

Take the new Vauxhall Insignia GSi, a badge revived – 25 years after appearing on the original Corsa – for the for the latest performance Insignia Grand Sport hatch and Sports Tourer estate, replacing the VXR.

Looks and image

Plenty of rear legroom for large adults. Picture: VauxhallPlenty of rear legroom for large adults. Picture: Vauxhall

Even with 20in alloy wheels, sports bumpers, side sills, chrome air intakes and discreet badging, the Insignia GSi is a model of restraint.

This is practical, potent performance, with a capital P, giving little away about what lurks beneath.

Under the bonnet

Long 560-litre boot provides loads of luggage space . Picture: VauxhallLong 560-litre boot provides loads of luggage space . Picture: Vauxhall

Two 2.0-litre engines – 260PS turbo petrol and 210PS twin turbo diesel – both with eight-speed automatic transmission and intelligent all-wheel drive.

Weighing 160kg less than the old VXR, this GSi is the quickest production Vauxhall to lap the Nurburgring in Germany so it’s brisk enough on the road.

The diesel lags only a fraction of a second behind the petrol’s 0-62mph time. Boosted by 480Nm of torque at 1,500rpm, it accelerates effortlessly, slickly slipping through the gears. Driven sensibly you can get high 30s MPG.

Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer is as rewarding to drive as it is roomy. Picture: VauxhallVauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer is as rewarding to drive as it is roomy. Picture: Vauxhall

How it drives

The uprated, specially-tuned sports chassis – with a 10mm lower ride height, stiffened springs and 20in wheels with ‘rubber band-like’ low-profile tyres – makes for a jarring ride travelling slowly on roadwork-scarred, pockmarked surfaces.

But the GSi is not designed as a city car and the ride is composed at speed with standard FlexRide adaptive damping with standard, sport and tour modes which also alter steering and throttle response, gear shift points and stability control settings.

It flows through twists and turns, hugging the road, with a flat stance and huge levels of grip while Brembo four-cylinder brakes provide powerful stopping.

Space and comfort

The GSi has lost none of the standard Insignia’s usability with loads of rear legroom, even with large adults up front in the snug sports seats, and a long 560-litre boot with underfloor storage tray. Drop the 40/20/40 rear seat backs flat with the boot floor and you’ve got a 1,665-litre cargo compartment.

The new Insignia’s interior has more upmarket ambience and the user-friendly fascia looks classier – with Vauxhall aiming to close the gap with more premium models.

Equipment

The GSi is the most expensive Insignia but comprehensive standard kit includes sat-nav, leather seats, heated front and outer rear seats, dual-zone climate control, head-up display and cruise control with speed limiter.

Final say

This flagship Insignia GSi is a true fast, functional family holdall that’s loads of fun to drive too.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Vauxhall Insignia GSi Nav Sports Tourer BiTurbo D 4x4, £34,475 (Grand Sport £33,965)

Engine: 1,956cc, 210PS, four-cylinder twin turbo diesel mated to eight-speed automatic gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 7.4 seconds; top speed 144mph

MPG: Urban 30.7; extra urban 48.7; combined 39.8

CO2 emissions: 187g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 37pc

Insurance group: 24E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,998mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,093mm; H 1,514mm


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