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New GSi performance variant aims to boost the the appeal of what is already a practical, well equipped estate car

Welcome back, GSi. It has been more than a decade now since the old Vectra (C generation) last wore that badge.

Back then, Vauxhall used it to mark out its fruitier model derivatives, until it was retired in favour of the more hardcore VXR series of vehicles.

The last Vauxhall to wear a GSi badge was discontinued more than a decade ago. It has been revived to identify a fast but usable performance derivative.

But VXR is now experiencing something of a hiatus. Click through to the Vauxhall VXR website and all you’ll find is a list of models that are no longer on sale. So where do you look if you fancy a Vauxhall with a bit more pep?

Now, as before, to a trusty, thrusty GSi.

With VXR out of the picture – for now, at least – that revived model derivative will serve as Vauxhall’s performance sub-brand, offering buyers a griffin-badged alternative to Ford’s ST and Volkswagen’s GTI range of cars.

Rather than reintroduce GSi on the back of a hot hatchback, though, Vauxhall has chosen its flagship Insignia to return GSi to the performance car landscape. And it hasn’t done things by half measures, either.

Former DTM (German Touring Car Masters) champion Volker Strycek – now Vauxhall’s director of performance cars and motorsport – led the Insignia GSi’s development programme; a programme that included plenty of time on track at the Nürburgring.

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In fact, Vauxhall claims the Insignia GSi is the fastest production car it has put around the circuit, knocking 12sec off the lap time set by the first-generation Insignia VXR. That’s not to say GSi is usurping VXR in like-for-like terms, though.

Despite Vauxhall’s touting of the Insignia GSi as being its new performance flagship, it has firmly said that VXR isn’t dead and that there will be new VXR-badged cars in future. Where VXRs will be more hardcore, uncompromising driver’s cars, GSis will always put plenty of emphasis on everyday usability.

Regardless, it sounds as though Vauxhall should have a fairly potent performance car on its hands with the new Insignia GSi. Will it pass muster under the microscope of the full Autocar road test, though? Let’s find out.

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