Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport Review
The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport has a low price, lots of standard equipment and a decent interior but alternatives are more stylish and have flashier interiors
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Relaxing motorway cruiser
- Well-built interior
What's not so good
- Below average rear headroom
- Compromised visibility
- Alternatives have bigger boots
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport: what would you like to read next?
The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport replaces the old Insignia. It’s called the ‘Grand Sport’ because, well, it’s supposed to be more premium than its predecessor and it needed a showbiz name to match. It’s available as an estate, called the Insignia Sports Tourer which we’ve tested separately, but it’s the hatchback model being tested here.
To keep the sporty theme alive, the Insignia has a bold grille and swept-back roofline that makes it look more like a five-door coupe than a conventional family car. It’s wider, lower and longer than the old Vauxhall Insignia and it has a more imposing look as a result.
Unfortunately, the sporty roof eats into rear-seat headroom – that could be a problem if you have tall teens or regularly carry adults in the back, and the boot is also smaller than what the competition offers. As a result, the Skoda Superb is the better big family car if you need lots of space.
The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport has just as much standard equipment as the Skoda though, including a 4G mobile data connection, automatic emergency braking and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring systems. The dashboard design is more eye-catching, too – thanks to a tall hump between the front seats that makes you feel cocooned like you’re in a sports car.
The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is a really good looking, good value, family car
The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport doesn’t feel particularly sporty to drive, though. At least it doesn’t lean too much in bends and the manual gearshift is precise and easy to use. You can even get it with adjustable suspension and even a Sports Mode button should your commute take in a few nice twisty roads.
If you spend more time in town, you’ll be pleased to hear that the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport does a decent job soaking up bumps and potholes. It comes with plenty of engines to choose from too, including a 1.5-litre petrol engine that’s ideal for nipping through town and a more frugal 2.0-litre diesel that’ll make light work of towing a trailer and lapping up long motorway drives.
One thing you needn’t fret about is safety. All models come with road-sign recognition to flag up speed limits on the infotainment screen, lane assist to keep you between the white lines on the motorway and automatic emergency braking to reduce the chance of low-speed crashes. In fact, the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport’s impressive amount of standard equipment is one of the main reasons you should consider one over the likes of the Peugeot 508 and Mazda 6.
This Insignia feels better built than the old model and all cars come with high-tech infotainment features, but you can’t really stamp your own personality on the cabin
The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport gives the driver and front-seat passengers lots of room, but some alternatives have more headroom in the rear and larger boots
Worried that you might not get comfy in the Insignia? Well, rest easy, because - would you believe? - the seats have been approved by a committee of back experts in Germany
Getting yourself comfortable in the driver’s seat shouldn’t be a problem because every Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport comes with a height adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that moves for height and reach. The seats have even been approved by an independent committee of German back experts, so you shouldn’t have anything to complain about on long journeys. You get an extendable seat base too, for a little extra upper-leg support.
That said, shorter front passengers will be forced to stare blankly at the swooping dashboard, because the front passenger seat isn’t height adjustable as standard. Tech Line Nav and Elite Nav models do add height adjustment for the passenger seat and give your driver’s seat four-way lumbar adjustment, for a little extra support on long trips.
Rear passenger space suffers from the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport’s sloping roofline, which means tall teenagers might find their heads scuffing on the roof – they’ll be better off in the higher-roofed Sports Tourer estate. It’s also a shame that basic models do without a rear armrest. You can’t complain about much else, though, because leg and knee room are very generous indeed, plus Tech Line Nav and Elite Nav models have heated outer rear seats.
With three in the back, your middle passenger will feel a little perched but long journeys shouldn’t be too much of a pain in the back because there’s plenty of space for everyone’s feet in the Vauxhall’s generous footwells.
Fitting a child seat is easy because you get plenty of space to manoeuvre behind the front seat and the Isofix points are clearly marked and easy to line the seat base up with. They come with handy flip-down covers instead of the annoying removable caps you’ll find in many alternatives, too.
There’s also plenty of interior storage. The front door bins are big enough to hold two medium and one large bottle each and the cubby under the front-centre armrest is big enough to take a bottle of water – it’s just one of three cubbies on the centre console alone. The glovebox isn’t as big as you might expect, though, because some of its space is taken up by the fusebox.
You also get three USB charging points and you can have a wireless phone-charging slot fitted in the front for a little extra. Unfortunately, the slot’s too small to hold most modern smartphones, especially if you have a protective case fitted.
There’s a folding armrest fitted between the outer back seats, but the two built-in cupholders are placed in exactly the spot you’d comfortable rest your elbow which is pretty annoying. The rear door bins aren’t quite as large as those in the front, but there’s still space for a 500ml bottle.
The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport’s 490-litre boot is between 10% and 27% smaller than you’ll find in the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat and mammoth Skoda Superb. The large opening left by the Vauxhall’s hatchback boot lid means it is easier to load than a saloon with a small boot opening, such as the Passat, but the Insignia’s high load lip and the uneven boot shape count against it. There’s still space to carry one large and one small suitcase, a few soft bags and a set of golf clubs.
There’s space under the parcel shelf for a baby buggy to sit on its side, and a large cardboard box will fit if you remove the huge load cover. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to store it under the boot floor, but you do get a few hooks to hold your shopping bags nice and securely.
If you need extra space, the back seats fold 60:40 to offer up a maximum capacity of 1,450 litres – a substantial 310 litres less than a Skoda Superb but still enough space to carry a bike with both wheels attached.More practical seats that split 40:20:40 are an option but as they come as part of a pricey optional pack – which does include electrically adjustable Nappa leather seats.
The central seat folds down using a fabric tether, but you can fold all the seats down together automatically using two neat switches by the boot opening. This is usually the preserve of much more expensive saloons and means you needn’t lean forward to flip the seats down – perfect if the rear bumper’s a bit mucky.
The Insignia feels too big to be completely at home in town but it’s quiet and comfortable enough to take the sting out of long motorway drives
The Grand Sport is a really good, long-distance cruiser, pretty much like every Insignia that came before it
You can get the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport with three petrol and three diesel engines and with either front or four-wheel drive.
Pick the 1.5-litre petrol with 165hp if you spend most time driving around town. It’ll only set you back a few hundred pounds more than the 140hp model but it’ll sprint from 0-62mph a whole second quicker in 8.6 seconds. It’ll be pretty cheap to run, too – Vauxhall claims it’ll return 46mpg and you can expect to see around 40mpg in real-world conditions.
In fact, they’re so good that the 1.6-litre 200hp petrol and range-topping 2.0-litre 260hp seem like an extravagance. Sure, they both deliver their power well, are smooth and hushed, but unless you really want the extra performance aren’t worth choosing before the cheaper 1.5s.
If you’d prefer a frugal diesel, there’s a 1.6-litre engine with either 110hp or 136hp but both are quite noisy at slow speeds and have to work hard to keep up with fast-moving traffic. The 170hp 2.0-litre version isn’t quite as efficient but it’s the pick of the range if you do lots of motorway miles. It’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds and returns a claimed 56mpg – although you’ll probably see a figure in the thirties in real-world conditions.
A worthy upgrade is the eight-speed automatic gearbox you can get in all but 1.5-litre petrol models. It’ll set you back quite a bit extra but it really helps take the stress out of long journeys. It changes gear quickly and smoothly and doesn’t lurch at slow speeds like the DSG automatic you can get in the VW Passat Estate and Skoda Superb Estate.
The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is a mixed bag in town. There are many things to like: the controls are easy to use, the clutch is light, the gearbox is slick and the supple suspension deals well with bumps.
Unfortunately, threading it through busy city streets feels a bit like trying to three-point-turn a supertanker in a bustling harbour – it’s doable, but stressful. The Vauxhall’s sloping roof design means the windscreen seems miles away from you, so judging the front corners of the car is tricky, and reversing is even worse. It doesn’t help that front and rear parking sensors aren’t fitted as standard until you get to penultimate Tech Line Nav trim – on all the models below it, they’re an optional extra.
No, in the Insignia the city bypass is your friend because the motorway is without doubt where it belongs. That’s especially true if you go for the 2.0-litre diesel engine that, at a cruise, is barely ticking over a sedate 2,000rpm. But the rest of the range is generally pretty relaxing, with comfortable seats and a cabin that’s quiet if a little off the church-like serenity you get in a VW Passat. The only thing you really notice in the Insignia is a little tyre roar at speed, but it’s barely perceptible if you have the stereo on.
Automatic emergency braking and lane assist (which guides you in your lane on the motorway) are standard, and the car can even warn if you’re following the car in front too closely. As such, the Grand Sport achieved the maximum five-star crash rating from Euro NCAP in 2017.
Adaptive cruise control, which can match the speed of the car in front before returning to your preselected cruising speed when the way is clear, is an optional extra that isn’t available on Design models.
Hunting out B-roads isn’t something you’re likely to be doing in the Insignia – it goes where you want it to without leaning too much and feels pretty secure, but you’d never call it particularly sporty. The optional FlexRide suspension that lets you choose between a hard and a soft ride, but the Sportier setting highlights bumps without making the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport much more fun to drive. It’ll still put a bigger grin on your face than a Peugeot 508.