You’ll know how important it is that pseudo-sporting models sound the part, right? You turn the key and are rewarded with an aggressive growl that hints at the potential.
Hmm. If you’re looking for that, the Insignia GSi diesel is not the car for you.
The Insignia GSi’s diesel engine is one you’ll find in the Elite Nav and Country Tourer models and it sounds as underwhelming here as it does in those applications.
There’s a top-endy kind of rattle that you won’t find in premium-badged alternatives, a lack of refinement that manifests itself as a constant backdrop to your driving, unless you’re at a barely open throttle motorway cruising speed, when (reasonable) road and (moderate) wind noise and the low revs afforded by the eight-speed auto render it inaudible.
At no point, anyway, does it sound powerful. It isn’t, either. Its 207bhp is not the sort of power output that would have you writing letters home, although its 354lb ft, which is developed from only 1500rpm, gives the GSi real-world acceleration of the useful kind.
The 0-60mph time of 8.4sec is no better than respectable (and comes with no scrabble, thanks to the GKN four-wheel-drive system) but the fact that it’ll mooch from 50mph to 70mph in 4.7sec on kickdown makes better reading.
If you’ve taken control via the diddy plastic wheel-fixed paddles and left the Insignia in, say, fourth gear, it’ll lug from 30mph to 70mph in 8.2sec, which doesn’t sound that special, because it isn’t. But bear in mind it’s faster than a previous-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI left in the same gear.
In ordinary, everyday driving, then, a GSi will be as brisk as you could reasonably expect, if short on what you’d hope for from a performance-oriented badge. Its gearchanges are smooth and efficient, with well-programmed shift patterns that don’t leave the GSi scratching around at no revs in a bid to improve fuel economy, as some rivals are prone to.
In our testing, Vauxhalls tend to get closer to their claimed fuel consumption figures than most rivals, as if they’ve been less optimised for the drive cycle. They’re better for it.
Our Insignia test car stopped spectacularly well. Conditions under wheel on Millbrook’s mile straight were only decent and it’s not like we’d been out warming the tyres but, still, a 70-0mph distance of 41.8m is seriously good. Anything that gets close to 40m is excellent. (A McLaren 720S only just stops short of 40m.)