Priced from £34,475 Release date Now
Anyone with a whiff of interest in cars who was around at the back end of the 1980s might just remember the Vauxhall Carlton GSi 3000. Boy, was it the daddy; the later 3.0-litre 24v examples divvied up 204bhp, which propelled them from 0-60mph in around 7.5sec and onto 150mph, yet they were relatively affordable next to more exotic saloons such as the BMW M5.
It was a good ’un, then, and one that proved Vauxhall knew how to build a quick, big express. Sadly, they’re nearly extinct these days; scour the classifieds and you’ll be lucky to see one appear. But hang on, what’s this: a large Vauxhall with more than 200bhp, capable of nearly 150mph and 0-60mph in around 7.5sec? Yes, the sporty GSi moniker is back, on the new Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 GSi.
Times have changed, though. Along with petrol, you can also order a diesel GSi, in either hatchback or estate body style. We’ve got our hands on the 207bhp diesel estate – or Sports Tourer, as Vauxhall calls it.
2018 Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 210 GSi 4x4 Sports Tourer on the road
Sadly, there’s little to get animated about with this engine; it sounds like a diesel and performs like one too. That's fine in a regular Insignia, but a sporty one costing £35k? That’s not to say it’s rough – there’s very little engine vibration – but its wishy-washy drone won't excite enthusiastic drivers, and nor will its performance. It pulls solidly and decisively from 1500rpm or so but doesn’t feel brisk enough to live up to its claimed 0-60mph time of 7.4sec, or its badge.
But then Vauxhall says the GSi isn't a hot rod, but more of a warm baton, designed to whiz you along briskly in comfort. Does it? Hmm. All versions come with four-wheel drive, so it’s a very dependable car in all conditions, and you get specially tuned adaptive dampers as standard. But Sport mode is too stiff for British roads, and while the softer settings are more compliant over larger undulations, the vast 20in wheels pick up on smaller pimples, so the GSi is jittery at times.
It’s a decent steer, though. Those adaptive dampers and lowered, stiffened springs keep body lean in check well through corners. The steering has a delicate quality in terms of weight and feel, making it rewarding and precise, too. Perhaps it’s a tad too delicate at motorway speeds, when a little more resistance around the straight-ahead would be ideal, but that’s a foible rather than an arrant fault. The upgraded Brembo brakes are also meaty and reassuring, imbuing you with confidence.
However, for a long-legged cruiser, there’s a big ‘but’ to add to that jittery ride: road noise. it would be tedious even if this were a city car destined for only the occasional motorway jaunt, but in a family estate, whose natural habitat is stomping about the M25 and its ilk, it’s not acceptable. Wind noise isn’t too bad, but that's largely immaterial due to the aforementioned affliction.
2018 Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 210 GSi 4x4 Sports Tourer interior
This is where the Insignia Sports Tourer does rather well. For a start, it’s hugely spacious front and rear, so a quartet of prop forwards should fit without bother. Its boot is massive, too, with a wide opening and a power-operated tailgate. In addition, there are boot-mounted switches that conveniently collapse the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats.
It’s not the best-finished interior you will find, with some rather low-rent plastics dotted about, but the main touch points feel swell and look smart. You sit low, in special sports seats that grip you intimately. And as well as having electric adjustment as standard, they come with a massaging function.
In fact, the amount of equipment is good all round. A head-up display, Bose sound system, heated front and rear seats and keyless entry are all thrown in for the price.
For a full breakdown of the Insignia Sports Tourer's interior, head over to our full in-depth review.
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