Review: Vauxhall Insignia GSi Nav Sports Tourer BiTurbo estate

In Car Reviews, Vauxhall by Neil Lyndon

Once you have managed to spit out the mouthful of its name, the new Vauxhall Insignia GSi Nav Sports Tourer BiTurbo estate amply goes to prove one thing very clearly.


That is: connoisseurs can be full of crap. I was already aware of this immortal truth from other experiences.

 Neil Lyndon hits the Scottish highlands in the Vauxhall Insignia GSi Estate 

For instance, a long time ago, I knew a woman who regularly raked in a bundle of money in pubs betting drink snobs that they couldn’t tell the difference between brandy and whisky in a blind test. “Bah!” they would scoff. “My palate is so fine-tuned, I’d have no trouble telling the difference between Burgundy and Bordeaux.” After they had opened their wallets, she’d then get the barman to pour an equal measure of brandy and whisky while the sucker’s back was turned and then ask them to close their eyes and identify by taste alone which was which.

Nobody ever got it. She always won. Every single time. No kidding.

The same outcome would result, I am sure if you could devise a blind test between the Insignia GSi estate and, say, an Audi A6. Apart, maybe, from some textural clues in the touch of the steering wheel and a difference in the width of the backrest (where the Vauxhall’s is fractionally narrower and less comfortable), I guarantee that if some virtual test could be invented where you were driving these two cars in a simulator with your eyes closed, you’d never tell them apart. For straight-ahead power, grip, road-holding, ride and braking, they are as similar – and as strikingly excellent - as makes no difference.

If, however, you told most car connoisseurs or brand snobs that they couldn’t tell the difference between a Vauxhall and an Audi, they’d knock you off your feet with a gale of guffaws. And you can be absolutely certain their reaction would be based on nothing but ignorance and prejudice. That’s exactly the kind of ignorance and prejudice that keeps the mills of the snobbery machines known as “premium brands” so well oiled.

The engine, transmission and suspension set-ups are more than a match for any front-wheel drive car with a snootyboots badge.

  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi
  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi
  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi
  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi
  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi
  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi
  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi
  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi
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  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi
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  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi

The stonking 2.0-litre Biturbo four-cylinder diesel develops 207bhp and 354lb ft of torque, sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission and a twin-clutch differential at the rear axle that allows more torque to be sent to the outside rear wheel during cornering.

Lightweight MacPherson struts and coil springs up front, with a five-link axle and coil springs at the rear form the suspension architecture, with lowered ride height and stiffened spring rates. Adaptive damping allows for three driving modes to be selected by the driver: Standard, Sport and Tour.

Figures of 0-60 mph in seven seconds and top speed of 144 mph only give a notional sketch of the performance of this very large estate car (with a loadspace that you need a space probe to explore fully). At full stretch, with the transmission switched to manual and controlled through the nifty little paddles on the steering column, this car is pretty close to Mercedes and BMW levels of engagement. The only drawback is floaty steering that lacks the necessary edge of tautness.

Standard equipment level is startlingly high (though Vauxhall’s radio selector system is maddeningly clumsy to operate) and the all-in price of this car at £36340 was almost as close as a Kia to the on-the-road price of £35464.

That kind of straightforwardness expresses the overall character of this car, which you could summarise as being a bloody good buy and entirely lacking in crap.

Car reviewed: Vauxhall Insignia GSi Nav Sports Tourer 2.0 210PS BiTurbo D 4X4 Auto BlueInjection - On the road £35,465 model with options as tested £36,340 0-62mph 7.4 secs Top speed 144mph Fuel Economy combined 39.8mpg CO2 emissions 187g/km Engine 1956cc 4-cylinder diesel EU6 Max Power Engine 210PS@4000rpm Engine Torque 480Nm@1500rpm Transmission 8-speed automatic

  • A great looking SUV

  • Superbly appointed interior

  • Two-tone paint job

  • Fiddly radio settings

What the others say about the Vauxhall Insignia GSi on YouTube...

About the author

Neil Lyndon


Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK's national stage for 40 years, writing for every "quality" newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 - the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.

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