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 Vauxhall Insignia is available with a choice of six engines that are equally split between petrol and diesel power.
You can choose from two 1.5-litre petrols with either 140 or 165hp. The latter is the one to go for because it costs just £300 more than the basic model, costs a negligible amount extra to run, and makes the Vauxhall feel pretty nippy. On a good day, it’ll return claimed fuel economy of 47mpg – enough for a range of 640 miles or just seven miles short of what the 140hp model can manage.
Your only other petrol option is the 260hp, 2.0-litre engine fitted to the Turbo 4×4. It’ll leap from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds and comes as standard with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. But it returns dismal official fuel economy of a 32.8mpg and, really, if you want a fun-to-drive family car your money would be much better spent on a BMW 3 Series.
The Grand Sport is a really good, long-distance cruiser, pretty much like every Insignia that came before it
Diesel power comes in the form of the two 1.6s with either 110 or 136hp, or a 170hp 2.0-litre. The 2.0-litre diesel is the model to go for unless you want ultimate fuel economy. It has enough pulling power to feel pretty quick on the motorway – its 8.3-second-0-62mph time is just 1.3 seconds shy of the 260hp petrol, but fuel economy of 51.4 mpg means you don’t have to worry about running costs. It can be had with an eight-speed automatic gearbox at a cost of £1,600.
If you don’t give a monkey’s about performance, though, go for the 110hp 1.6-litre diesel. It’s quick enough not to send you loopy and its combined 72.4mpg fuel economy figure gives you a near-intergalactic range of 960 miles. It’s not available with an auto, though – if you want that you’ll have to have the 136hp model.
The Insignia 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 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 a £460 option.
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.
It’s yet to be tested for safety by Euro NCAP but expect it to score well because 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. OnStar also helps with safety – it can call the emergency services autonomously if you have an accident, as well as being able to track (and ultimately disable) the car if it’s stolen.
Adaptive cruise control, which can match the speed of the car in front before returning to a preselected cruising speed when the way is clear, is a £480 option 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 and feels pretty secure, but the whole experience is so forgettable it just isn’t worth the bother. As a result, there’s little point in specifying the £800 FlexRide suspension that lets you choose between a hard and a soft ride.