Opel Insignia range has become very interesting thanks to the arrival of the sporty all wheel drive GSi. Both petrol and diesel versions have loads of torque and enough zip to make motorway cruising sublime.
Should you need to make up a few minutes or decide to take a more dynamic route to your next meeting the GSi will oblige. Its sharper steering is precise and the level of traction delivered is very impressive. The GSi comes with a lot of impressive kit as standard and sits as the five seater’s flagship model. The traction delivered is the key thing with the GSi as very little of the power if any is thrown away through wheel spin. Available as a liftback saloon or sports tourer estate, the car has subtle exterior differences to the stock Insignia that imply performance but ntoo enough to frighten onlookers. The GSi sits 10mm lower on the road and has revised suspension to make it better handling. Throw in to the mix Opel’s dynamic ‘Twinster’ adaptive 4X4 drive and the GSI delivers on Opel’s name for its range topping Insignia… ‘The Grip Master’. Active torque vectoring and other dark arts do a excellent job of getting power to the road and keeping the GSi literally on track.
Outside, the GSi gets big alloys, additional chrome trim, rear spoiler, sports bumpers and side skirts and of course the obligatory chromed sports exhaust pipes. An new ‘exclusive’ option allows buyers select their own custom paint colour and is de-chromed to deliver a more bad boy image. The GSi has a good stance and is a handsome machine.
Inside the GSi gets all the benefits seen in the latest Insignia with increased cabin space and less clutter. The GSi is very well equipped with a head up display, alluminium sports pedals, leather seats, black headlining and a flat bottomed steering wheel and of course some obligatory GSi badging. The lightweight seats based on a king cobra design are brilliant. They feature inflatable adjustable bolsters, in built airbags and remarkably a massaging function as standard.
Like the new Insignia there are lots of technological highlights like the literally brilliant Intellilux LED matrix headlights and their 400 metre high beam range. Opel’s OnStar concierge service is standard and free for the first year and there is in an car wi-fi hotspot as standard. My test car only had two cost options namely wireless charging (€150) and a heated windscreen (€200). The GSi’s audio system delivers great music but also faux engine sounds depending on the drive mode selected that enhances the sporty feeling that GSi delivers. The Opel Insignia GSi joins the line up of SC, SE, SRi and Elite models.
Under the bonnet there is a choice of two Euro 6 emissions compliant four cylinder engines, a lively 260hp/400nm turbocharged petrol and a slightly more sensible 210hp/480nm bi-turbo diesel. Having driven both on the test track and road in Europe, I prefer the petrol for giggles. Having recently spent a week driving the diesel in Ireland, I can say I really felt no hardship – especially at the pumps where the diesel averaged just over 7 l/100km (40mpg) from its 62 litre fuel tank. High mileage user will get a heap of entertainment from the oil burner that starts from €53,600. 0-100km/h takes just 7.9 seconds (7.2 petrol) and that feels brisk in a mid sized saloon. Balancer shafts help deliver a smooth diesel experience even form 1500rpm where all the torque kicks in.
Lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control deliver level 2 autonomous driving and again this is very handy for those dull motorway trips. The GSi can stop briskly too with Brembo brakes as standard with big 345mm discs up front. Power is shifted about between axles in milliseconds and in a seamless way with up to 60% going to the rear at any one time.Opel’s ‘Intelligent Flexride’ adaptive suspension allows the driver select normal, sport or touring to soften things up. Touring is best enjoyed with the award winning heated/cooled AGR front seats in massage mode… I used this a lot on longer routes. To add to the sense of premium the gearbox is a smooth 8 speed auto (with paddle shifts). Should driving conditions get interesting due to slippery surfaces the ESC electronic stability control can be desensitised to allow the more experienced driver have more control over when it kicks in. There are two stages with the competition setting allowing the driver drift but will intervene in extreme circumstances – I’ve used it on Michelin’s wet test track and it works.
Opel Europe says over 90% of GSi buyers are male and that the five seater is aimed at a well informed premium buyer who might want something a little different to an Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series. The GSi is usable every day and while it is not outrageously powerful an OPC high performance Insignia is on the way. It promises to deliver… well, simply, more!