Vauxhall Insignia

GSi Grand Sport

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

HEADING in full tourist mode for a week in northern France there are several fundamental requirements in a car that's going to cover just short of 1,000 miles.

Obviously, it needs to be both economical and comfy. Worrying at the speed the fuel gauge drops or the way your bottom's lost all feeling are not going to improve the holiday mood.

Then there's the need for space. Ridiculous as it sounds, even travelling two up in a car made for five stretches the need for room. Or it does as you wheel the haul of cheap wine from Calais store to car boot (and back seat).

So, it was good to have Vauxhall's poshest Insignia as companion on all sorts of French roads, from eerily untrafficed and tolled autoroute to Versailles market streets with coffee sipping citizens centimetres from your door mirrors.

The Insignia Grand Sport range starts at £20,045 but the car you're reading about sits very much at the other end of the price list, at a fairly heady £38,520.

If that sounds a lot of money, you'd be right. The same car (same potent diesel engine, automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive) is available with fewer bells and whistles and a saving of £7,060 if you choose Elite Nav spec over GSi Nav.

Take the cheaper 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 (and superb) 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.

What the extra cash won't provide is increased performance, at least not in a straight line. Press the button to firm up the suspension and the specially sticky Michelins will get you round corners in sporty fashion without ruining the ride.

Indeed in normal mode even the GSi's huge 20in alloy wheels don't disturb the Insignia's occupant on a typical stretch of French road - or a UK stretch either, which is high praise indeed these days.

Performance that is merely brisk pays off at the pumps, where the test car showed 40.3mpg after 960 miles of holiday duties, even hauling enough vin to open a wine bar.

FAST FACTS

Vauxhall Insignia GSi Grand Sport

Price: £38,520

Mechanical: 207bhp, 1,956cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 145mph

0-62mph: 7.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 39.2

Insurance Group: 28

C02 emissions: 184g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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