The new Opel Insignia GSi is a lighter, faster, more performance-oriented version of the family sedan with the same name. Power comes courtesy of an upgraded 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivering 260 horsepower (193 kilowatts) and 295 pound-feet (400 Newton-meters) of torque, and is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. With all those performance credentials in tow, how does it do on a track?
Opel took its new Insignia GSi to one of the most grueling tracks around to find out – the Nürburgring. With former DTM racing driver and Director of Performance Cars and Motor Sport Volker Strycek behind the wheel, the sports sedan performed above and beyond what the company had initially hoped. Though Opel neglected to give an official time, it made clear that the new GSi was an impressive 12 seconds quicker than the outgoing OPC variant.
Gallery: Opel Insignia GSi Nurburgring
"The lightweight architecture, the excellent chassis configuration with uprated damper hydraulics and software adjustment, the unique all-wheel drive along with the performance tires make the GSi as precise and sharp as we wanted it to be," said Strycek after his test drives. "The results speak for themselves. I can complete a lap of the Nordschleife in the new Insignia GSi up to twelve seconds faster than in the more powerful OPC predecessor – but I obviously push the car every inch of the way."
Alongside a 260-hp (193-kW) turbocharged engine, the new Insignia GSi comes with a number of unique performance features to boot. All that power is paired to an intelligent all-wheel-drive system that sends a perfect amount of power to each individual wheel thanks to torque vectoring. The Insignia also rides on 20-inch rims wrapped in a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tires, and comes standard with high-performance Brembo brakes.
The company is calling its new Insignia GSi the "Connoisseur’s Choice," following a "Tested on the Nürburgring" seal of approval. Though it lacks a price currently, the new Insignia will go on sale in Europe in just a few weeks.
The new Opel Insignia GSi is a precision instrument. Ten millimetres closer to the road than a normal Insignia and at least 160 kilogrammes lighter than a previous generation Insignia OPC. With intelligent all-wheel drive, that sends a perfectly dosed amount of power to each individual wheel thanks to torque vectoring. This improves handling even further and annoying understeer is eliminated. Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres on 20-inch rims ensure an outstanding level of grip while the powerful Brembo brakes guarantee short braking distances and maximum safety. Furthermore, the direct steering, adjustable shock absorbers along with the engine and transmission control are interlinked and react sharply when the Sport Mode is activated. Briefly, the GSi is an automotive foil for aficionados of modern, highly efficient sports limousines. A “Connoisseur’s Choice” edition with the “Tested on the Nürburgring” seal of approval – because every sporty Opel is fine-tuned on the legendary Nordschleife.
“The toughest place in the world to test a car to the max” (Volker Strycek)
On June 18, 1927, the original 28 kilometre long “mountain, racing and test track” at the foot of the Nürburg was inaugurated. The founding fathers attached great importance to the Nürburgring containing sections with country road characteristics so that the booming automotive industry could test its cars accordingly. The first race in the Eifel was won by superstar Rudolf Caracciola, who later admitted that he found the course “really tough”, in 1927. Three-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart later gave the hilly course, which is surrounded by forest, its legendary nickname – “The Green Hell”. Today, one of the leading experts on the Nürburgring is Opel Director Performance Cars and Motor Sport, Volker Strycek. In 2003, he won the 24-hour race in an Opel Astra V8 Coupé. More recently, Strycek and his team developed the set-up of the Insignia GSi on the Nürburgring.
“The lightweight architecture, the excellent chassis configuration with uprated damper hydraulics and software adjustment, the unique all-wheel drive 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. I can complete a lap of the Nordschleife in the new Insignia GSi up to twelve seconds faster than in the more powerful OPC predecessor – but I obviously push the car every inch of the way. As soon as the course becomes more demanding such as in the corners or stretches with low friction, i.e. when the car needs to react in an especially agile and precise manner, the GSi is definitely faster and easy to control.”
“This is precisely the efficiency I expect from a modern sports car.”
The Opel engineers have treated the GSi to a new chassis compared to the new Insignia. Shorter springs lower the GSi by ten millimetres and special sports shock absorbers reduce body movements to a minimum. The powerful Brembo four-piston brakes (diameter 345 millimetre) and the already direct steering were adapted accordingly. The Insignia GSi is equipped as standard with the mechatronic FlexRide chassis. It adapts shock absorbers and steering in fractions of a second; the control unit also changes the calibration of the accelerator pedal and the shift points of the eight-speed automatic. The driver can choose between Standard, Tour and Sport modes. Subject to the chosen mode, steering and throttle-response is then even more direct. Exclusive to the GSi is the Competition mode, which is activated via the ESP button. A double-press allows skilful drivers more yaw and switches off traction control – for a fast lap of the Nordschleife, for example.
The sports-chassis, developed in combination with the extra grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres and big 20-inch wheels, offers almost limpet-like levels of adhesion. A major contribution comes from the all-wheel drive with torque vectoring fitted as standard, which is unique in this segment. In this high-tech system, a conventional differential on the rear axle is replaced by two clutches, which can accelerate each rear wheel individually in fractions of a second, depending on the driving situation.
“The all-wheel drive system with torque vectoring is truly unique in the Insignia segment. It banishes the tendency to understeer known from more conventional systems,” said Strycek.
The sports sedan is powered by an impressive gasoline turbo engine that combines fuel efficiency with performance. The powerful 2.0-litre turbo produces 191 kW (260 hp) and develops generous torque of 400 Nm (NEDC fuel consumption: 11.2 litres per 100 km urban; 7.1 l/100 km extra-urban; 8.6 l/100 km combined; 197 g/km CO2). Alternatively, the GSi is also available with the 154 kW/210 hp 2.0-litre BiTurbo diesel (Official fuel consumption 2.0 BiTurbo in accordance with New European Driving Cycle: urban 8.9 l/100 km, extra-urban 6.1 l/100 km, combined 7.3 l/100 km, official specific combined CO2 emissions 192 g/km) – a unit that is tailor-made for the Opel flagship and delivers torque of 480 Nm. Both four-cylinder units are mated to an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. The driver has the option of shifting gears via paddles at the steering wheel without taking his hands off the steering wheel or his eyes off the road. In addition, the shift points of the automatic transmission can be preselected via the Standard and Sport modes.
The new Opel Insignia GSi is available as either a sports limousine or an even more family friendly estate – then called the Opel Insignia GSi Sports Tourer.