MARKET AND MODEL
Vauxhall’s new Insignia GSi delivers high levels of performance through all-wheel drive, a new chassis and Brembo brakes, and is powered by either a new 2.0-litre BiTurbo diesel, or a refined 2.0-litre turbo petrol unit.
The GSi has a responsive new eight-speed automatic gearbox, operated via a paddle-shift on the steering wheel. A state-of-the-art all-wheel-drive system, incorporating a sophisticated twin-clutch differential which provides torque vectoring in the most demanding conditions, turns the GSi into a first-class driver’s car.
Like other models in the Insignia’s range, the GSi has shed weight – in this case, 160 kilograms versus the first-generation VXR which preceded it. Combined with a 10 millimetre lower ride height, the difference in the Insignia GSi’s steering, body control and overall agility can be felt immediately. Significantly, the GSi is the fastest Vauxhall yet around Germany’s Nürburgring, where much of its chassis development was carried out, and is a full 12 seconds quicker than the outgoing, and more powerful Insignia VXR.
Exterior design updates include chrome air intakes at the front and a rear spoiler for improved levels of downforce, while on the inside full-leather sports seats, a leather sports steering wheel and aluminium pedals complete the package.
The launch of the 2018 Insignia GSi also marks 25 years since the first GSi badge was seen on a Vauxhall (in 1993 on the then new Corsa).
The performance of the Insignia GSi is matched by new design features, technology highlights and exclusive accessories inside and out. On the inside, new AGR-certified sports seats developed by Vauxhall provide increased lateral support and long-distance comfort. Unique to the GSi, the seats offer ventilation, heating, massage and adjustable side bolsters. Customers can specify the seats in one of two leather combinations, each featuring the prominent GSi emblem.
The interior strikes the perfect balance between comfort and performance, featuring a leather steering wheel with a flattened lower, aluminium pedals and stylish black headlining.
The GSi logo can also be seen at the rear of the car, which carries a spoiler to deliver additional levels of downforce to the rear axle. The rear also features two chrome-edged exhaust pipes, and new, pronounced chrome air intakes can be found near the front wheels.
The Insignia GSi is available with a choice of two powerful, state-of-the-art engines, each mated to Vauxhall’s new eight-speed automatic transmission. A sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, with a twin-clutch differential and torque vectoring feature is standard with both engines.
2.0-litre BiTurbo Diesel
Based on the Insignia’s existing 2.0-litre (170PS) single-turbo diesel unit, the BiTurbo features two turbochargers working sequentially. The intake air enters the first turbocharger where it is compressed and passed to the second turbo. This is driven by Variable Geometry Turbine (VGT) vanes in the exhaust gas, which increase torque at low engine speeds and raise power at higher engine revs. VGT then adjusts the vanes in parallel with the gas flow, reducing back pressure and lowering fuel consumption. From there, the intake gases pass through an intercooler on their way to the combustion chambers. Seven-hole jets inject diesel in up to ten sequences at 2,000 bar, and boost pressure is regulated by three bypass valves and electronic actuation of the variable turbine geometry.
While improved torque and power have been achieved, refinement was also a priority. A cast-iron crankshaft, balancer shafts, a stiffened flywheel and two-piece oil sump all contribute to a reduction in noise and vibration, while fuel consumption has been reduced still further by a water pump that is active only when temperatures demand its operation.
The BiTurbo produces 480Nm of torque from just 1500rpm. It accelerates from 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds and has a maximum speed of 145mph*.
2.0-litre Turbo Petrol
Producing 260PS at 5,500rpm and 400Nm of torque between 3,000 and 4,000rpm, the four-cylinder, double overhead camshaft 2.0 Turbo fitted to the GSi is the most powerful engine in the Insignia range. Using a single, twin-scroll turbocharger, the unit is both punchy yet refined, and allows the GSi to accelerate from 0-60mph in 6.9 seconds, and on to a maximum speed of 155mph*.
Despite its performance, the 2.0 Turbo is highly efficient, returning 32.8mpg on the Combined Cycle (NEDC figure), while producing 197g/km of C02 emissions*.
*All figures for Grand Sport model
New 8-speed gearbox
This is the first eight-speed automatic transmission to be fitted to a Vauxhall. Compared with the previous generation VXR’s six-speed automatic, the GSi’s eight-speed gearbox is even more responsive, its additional gears maintaining optimum performance. In addition, the gearbox’s smart design mean that it is lighter and more compact than the six-speed unit from the previous model.
Unique to the Insignia GSi are standard, steering wheel-mounted shift paddles allowing drivers to control gears manually while maintaining full control of the car.
The Insignia GSi has a state-of-the-art torque vectoring all-wheel drive system that delivers exceptional levels of grip and handling. While the same technology is available on certain other models in the Insignia range, a unique set of calibrations has been developed for the GSi, making it even more agile and biddable for road or track.
How does it work?
All-wheel drive with torque vectoring is the best way to apply high power to the road, be it wet, dry, icy or covered in snow. But the additional weight and complexity of conventional torque vectoring systems prevent them from meeting Vauxhall’s high standards for performance and efficiency.
As a result, the new Insignia GSi uses an all-wheel drive system with a rear-drive module that employs a clever twin clutch system. The GSi’s all-wheel drive system can apply torque to one or both the rear wheels independently, enabling torque vectoring capability across the car’s full performance range. When cornering, higher torque is sent to the outside rear wheel, inducing rotation around the vertical axis (yaw) – meaning the GSi turns in with more precision, responding spontaneously to inputs from the driver.
Torque vectoring also makes the car safer by controlling the distribution of torque according to changes in throttle position, steering angle and road surface, reducing the amount of yaw. This intelligent use of torque distribution, also known as “yaw damping”, results in neutral vehicle behaviour, making the car more predictable and stable.
Drivers can choose the amount of yaw damping to suit their driving style by selecting the appropriate driving mode: from high yaw damping in “Tour” to low in “Sport”.
Specific tuning for the GSi’s ABS, Traction Control (TC) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems have been developed, including a ‘Competition Mode’, and the option of turning off the ESC completely.
Performance & Economy
Max. Speed (mph)
Extra- urban driving
CO2 emissions (g/km)
1st year rate
17/18 tax rates
Insignia GSi Grand Sport (BiTurbo diesel)
Insignia GSi Sports Tourer (BiTurbo diesel)
Insignia GSi Grand Sport (2.0 Turbo petrol)
Insignia GSi Sports Tourer (2.0 Turbo petrol)
New Generation FlexRide adaptive damping
While FlexRide is optional on other cars in the Insignia range, the system is standard on all GSi’s, and receives its own bespoke settings for this model, with unique valve and hydraulic tuning. FlexRide provides the basis for optimal, situation-based driving behaviour. It alters settings for the dampers, steering, throttle response and shift points, based on a choice of ‘Standard’, ‘Sport’ or ‘Tour’ modes, selected by the driver. Depending on the mode, steering and throttle response are more direct and the ESP anti-skid system intervenes at a different stage to suit. Each element can also be added and removed within the individual modes.
The Insignia GSi’s basic suspension hardware is shared with others models in the range, with MacPherson struts and coil springs at the front, and a lightweight, five-link axle and coil springs at the rear. However, the GSi’s ride height is 10 millimetres lower all round, with spring rates stiffened by between 35-40 per cent (depending on engine/body style) versus non-GSi Insignias. The GSi’s front anti-roll bar also has a slightly lower rate of stiffness, and a revised 25.3 millimetre outer diameter.
Also unique to the Insignia GSi is unique software for the Electronic Power Steering (EPS) system, providing drivers with even greater degrees of precision and feedback.
Wheels & Tyres
All Insignia GSi’s come equipped with unique wheels and tyres, combined with Brembo four-cylinder brakes at the front. The rims are special 20-inch, flow-formed items, and when combined with the lighter Michelin Pilot Sport 4-S tyre (245/35R x 20s) each item weighs 1.5 kilograms less than the regular 20-inch wheel/tyre on other Insignia models.
The Michelin Pilot Sport 4-S tyre is a high-performance design that uses a hybrid aramid-nylon belt, providing excellent steering feel and response in a wide variety of road conditions. The tyre is fitted with a clever tread design that can adapt to differing road surfaces, offering drivers optimum control at all times. Lightweight, and offering exceptional grip in both wet and dry conditions, the Pilot Sport 4-S is easily identifiable by its chequered flag pattern which carries across the surface of its sidewall.
TESTING TIMES: FASTEST-EVER VAUXHALL AT ‘RING
Vauxhall’s all-new Insignia GSi has demonstrated its exceptional performance levels at one of the world’s most challenging race circuits, Germany’s Nürburgring. Sitting 10mm closer to the road than the rest of the Insignia range, and taking 160kg off the previous Insignia VXR, the GSi is the quickest Vauxhall production car to take on the iconic German track.
The superior performance of the new Insignia GSi is down to advances across the vehicle, which include all-wheel drive with torque vectoring, a new mechatronic FlexRide chassis, Brembo four-cylinder brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres on 20-inch rims. Power is delivered by a refined 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine supported by an eight-speed automatic gearbox, offering shift-paddles on the steering wheel to provide an active and responsive driving experience.
Having undergone extensive testing at the Nürburgring, nicknamed “The Green Hell” by legendary Formula 1 driver Sir Jackie Stewart, the Insignia GSi took 12 seconds off the time set by the outgoing VXR model. Vauxhall’s Director of Performance Cars and Motor Sport, Volker Strycek led the development team working on the new Insignia GSi, and used the unique challenges of the track to fine-tune the model to suit performance driving on any circuit.
“The lightweight architecture, excellent chassis configuration and unique all-wheel drive system, along with the performance tyres make the GSi as precise and sharp as we wanted it to be,” said Strycek after his test drives.
“The results speak for themselves, and the new Insignia GSi can lap the Nürburgring up to 12 seconds faster than its more powerful VXR predecessor. Where the course becomes more demanding and requires the car to react with more agility and precision, such as in the corners or stretches with low friction, the GSi is definitely faster and easy to control.”