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The impressive Insignia GSi has demonstrated its performance levels over Germany’s Nurburgring; earning the crown of being the quickest GM (now part of the PSA Group) production car to take on the iconic track.

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. Earlier this year, I caught up with the ex-DTM driver at another event and then I indicated that I was very much looking forward to driving the car on home tarmac. Depending which corner of Ireland you live in, it will be either an Opel or a Vauxhall badge.

Apart from the performance aspect, I found the Insignia GSi to be a very complete package, excellent build quality and a set of wheels which should appeal to a wide audience.

Right to the heart of the matter and I had a two litre BiTurbo D engine with a very useful 210PS to play with. Good enough to sprint from rest to 100kph in a whisker over seven seconds and on to a top speed of 233kph. Adding to the driving joy was a slick eight speed automatic transmission. Delivering very acceptable economy, the large 62 litre fuel tank provided a good range.

The sports chassis and FlexRide with Competition mode transforms the GSi Grand Sport from your average large hatchback into a sporty package which delivers an overall good drive experience. Aiding the sports performance electronic stability control and added stopping power courtesy of efficient ABS.

When I drove the GSi home late one evening on extremely wet roads from Carlingford it in a way reminded me of the testing that Volker and his team carried out at a venue which Sir Jackie Stewart named “The Green Hell”, not a reference to Ireland of course,  but the Nurburgring.

You certainly will not mistake this Insignia with GSi side sills, GSi front and rear bumpers, GSi rear spoiler, visible exhaust tailpipes and chunky 20 inch alloys show with low profile tyres. Yet the ride, surprisingly, was not harsh in any way, which if I am honest did surprise me. Today the buyer demands the full package, let it be a small runaround, an SUV or what ever and the Insignia GSi is a very complete car.

Once onboard, you are gripped into place by the ergonomic AGR sports seats and the flat bottomed steering wheel is just perfect for this car. Oh, and by the way, the steering wheel is of the heated variety. Front and outer rear seats are also heated, so no complaints from passengers when winter sets in. The climate control is dual zone, yet another plus factor and for entertainment on the move that is provided by a first rate system by Bose.

Steering wheel audio, phone and cruise controls are just perfect and in a flash I was able to connect my ageing Apple phone! The sat nav system was well displayed on the eight inch screen with OnStar a feature. With Wi-Fi available another plus for the leisure or business user. Bluetooth audio streaming, Apple Car Play and Android Auto also feature. A tyre pressure monitoring system is also part of the package as is keyless entry and start.

Overall, an impressive sports hatchback with a generous boot and one that looks wise carries its sports clothing rather well.

Ian Lynas

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