Vauxhall on track

for a fine road car

Vauxhall Insignia GSi, front action 2
Vauxhall Insignia GSi, front action
Vauxhall Insignia GSi, side action
Vauxhall Insignia GSi, front static
Vauxhall Insignia GSi, rear action
vVauxhall Insignia GSi, dashboard 2
Vauxhall Insignia GSi, brakes
Vauxhall Insignia GSi, rear seats
Vauxhall Insignia GSi, front seats
vVauxhall Insignia GSi, dashboard
Vauxhall Insignia GSi, boot
Vauxhall Insignia GSi, front upright

VAUXHALL insists its new Insignia GSi is 'emphatically not a track car' and then tells you how quick it is around the world's most demanding race circuit.

You then discover that the overtly sporty looking GSi - available in both Grand Sport hatch and Sports Tourer estate shapes - is no more powerful than other models with the same petrol or diesel engines and costing thousands less.

If it all sounds a bit confusing, matters become clearer when you learn the newcomers are simply supposed to be more fun to drive than lesser models (if no faster in a straight line) and that there may be a quicker Insignia along later.

That one will carry a VXR badge, denoting a car that might well end up on a weekend track day, while the less potent GSi tag is reserved for less hot but more affordable cars.

Still, we learn that the new and, for the moment, quickest Insignia was 12 seconds faster around the demanding Nurburgring in Germany's Eifel mountains than the last VXR version... even it's not meant to venture on track.

The speed comes from the work done on the suspension and brakes - lowered and stiffened for the first part and fitted with big (and undoubtedly expensive) Brembo front brakes for the second.

The car is also up to an impressive 160kg lighter than the VXR and comes with big 20-inch alloy wheels and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport tyres and puts its power down via an all-wheel drive system set up to give a sporty feel as you push out of corners.

Prices start at £32,975 for the Grand Sport diesel with its 210 horsepower 2.0-litre engine, likely to be the most popular choice over the dearer (£33,375) petrol model and its 260hp power unit.

If you need more boot space (or just reckon it looks better), the estate Sports Tourer version adds £1,500 to the bottom line and very mildly dilutes the performance and fuel consumption figures - although you'd never notice.

In hatchback Grand Sport form the diesel will hit 145mph and 62mph in 7.3 seconds, while returning an official 40.4mpg and 186g/km. The petrol version's figures are 155mph/6.9seconds/32.8mpg/197g/km.

Either engine is available in Insignia Elite models that cost up to £4,515 less than you'll pay for the GSi but take that route and you will miss the ability to dial up sporty settings for the suspension as well as goodies like head up display, specially designed front sports seats, paddle shift for the gears, keyless entry and heating for the rim of the chunky, leather wrapped steering wheel.

Other interior temptations include heated front and outer rear seats, massage and cooling also in the front pair, Bose sound system, satellite navigation and Vauxhall's OnStar system that lets you interrogate your car via your mobile phone over matters like remaining fuel range and flash the lights and horn to find it in a car park.

The GSi will also stand out in the company car park with its own styling package, running from new front and rear and side panels to visible exhaust pipes and a large rear spoiler - this an option in the rest of Europe but deemed a must have for we extrovert Brits.

Out on a fine selection of roads in a diesel GSi the car impressed with its mid-range punch while never feeling gorblimey quick between the corners.

The engine kept its diesel noises to a minimum - sounding almost sportily keen when pushed - and returned a reasonable 33.2mpg over the 70 miles of mostly fast country route.

Even with the sports setting chosen for the suspension the ride stays the right side of too stiff and powerfully confirmed first impressions that the GSi is a car for enjoying every day - but not on the track.

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