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
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.
The Grand Sport is a really good, long-distance cruiser, pretty much like every Insignia that came before it
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.