Not quite as exciting as Vauxhall might lead you to believe, unfortunately. Despite all the claims about being developed at the Nürburgring, the Insignia GSi doesn’t particularly feel like a car that’s entirely comfortable with being driven in a more enthusiastic manner for a number of reasons.
The steering is overly light and floaty around centre and doesn’t provide anything at all in the way of feel, meaning you’re never really confident that the front end will turn in as much as you need it to when you throw it in to a corner. It’s also quite a slow rack, so the need for large inputs further detracts from the big estate’s sportier claims. Selecting Sport mode does remedy this somewhat by adding a bit more steering weight, but there’s not really anything more in the way of communication to be found by doing so. Four-wheel drive does make for plenty of grip, though.
The second issue is the powertrain. While the diesel engine does a perfectly sound job of getting what is a large car up to speed, the window where the bulk of its pulling power is available is small. Despite its 354lb ft of torque being produced from 1500rpm, you’ll need to reach about 3200rpm before it feels like it's accelerating with any urgency, and even then the transmission will upshift automatically on full throttle before it hits its redline at about 4500rpm - and that's even if you’ve selected manual mode. Keeping it at that 3000-3200rpm sweet spot is a bit of a challenge, too, because the car’s onboard computers can be hesitant to let you use the paddle shifters to drop down a gear at times.
The Insignia GSi does ride well, though. With the adaptive dampers set to Standard, body roll is of course present, but it's not overly noticeable and the car doesn’t crash about over rough road surfaces, even on the large 20in alloy wheels. There is a fair amount of vertical travel over undulations but, again, not enough to make it a sore point. Selecting Sport mode firms everything up by a noticeable amount, further controlling roll and that upward travel.
The flipside is that the low-speed ride is compromised – ruts and rough surfaces will send shudders through the cabin – but this does improve with greater pace. Tour mode does the complete opposite by softening everything up, making the Insignia GSi a comfortable and relaxed long-distance tourer.
The interior won’t blow you away with its material or aesthetic appeal, but it’s by no means an unpleasant place. The leather-upholstered sports seats are supportive, if a little firm, and there’s miles of space in the back. The boot is huge, too, with 560 litres of capacity available. That’s more than that in a Ford Mondeo estate (500 litres), although a Skoda Superb estate's boot offers an additional 100 litres.