“It may not have the wow factor of a premium badge – always a Vauxhall flaw sadly… but you’d be a fool not to consider and try one for size“
The Vauxhall Insignia, its a grand car, and such a shame it’s not doing the numbers it really ought to in the showrooms. Sublime road manners, agreeable quality, and in Sports Tourer format… an unbelievable amount of space and practicality all morphed into a package that… in my opinion… is one of the best looking traditional family cars out there right now. Until recently, the emphasis has been on its diesel engines, its been hamstrung by having just two petrol option in three states of tune – a GM / SAIC developed 1.5 offering 140 or 165Ps and a 2.0 GM / Opel designed 260Ps in the GSi. That is until now.
Previous Insignia reviews can by found by CLICKING HERE
Vauxhall Opel engineers have added another petrol option by dropping in their 1.6 turbo petrol engine, an engine last sampled by myself in the Astra Sports Tourer. In the hatch (Grand Sport) version I drove in top flight Elite trim level, the car has 200Ps and 300Nm of torque. In the Astra, I came away rather chuffed at the flexibility and touring economy, so it would be interesting to see how the bigger car would fare under similar circumstances. After a week of mixed driving that included a good old shlep from the home counties to the West Midlands and back, I can say its good… rather good in fact. By far the best model in the Insignia rage – in my opinion.
“…what isn’t nice to the touch are the column stalks – they still feel ruddy awful and cheap compared to its rivals, though its the only real reservation regards quality“
But its a little more than just a new engine. There’s been some ever so subtle revisions and refinements too. The steering, way to light for my liking at launch, feels less artificial and a touch more weightier and the infotainment / instrument fonts have been modernised. Even the synthesised noise of the indicator repeater has been changed to a sound that emulates an old school tick-tick noise – yeah yeah I know this last point seems a bit… erm… trivial but for an old fart like me – its a nice touch. But what isn’t nice to the touch are the column stalks – they still feel ruddy awful and cheap compared to its rivals, though its the only real reservation regards quality.
The 1.6 turbo cruises well and has six well chosen cogs in the manual gearbox. It has a lovely, almost slightly eerie gait about it when motorway cruising with the engine turning over little more that 2600rpm at 70mph. Some improvements have been made to isolating the rear compartment from road and tyre noise too although its still present on rough or concrete surfaces to some degree, its much better. Unless you are really working the car outside of its comfort zone the mechanical noise is admirably low, especially when cruising. I’m rather pleased about the flexibility too, there’s a sack load of lugging power even below 1500rpm.
Venturing into the back lanes means you can appreciate that added extra steering feel and weight. Even though I’m not entirely sure exactly what they have done or altered, the difference is real, noticeable and much appreciated. Handling is taught and tight and the ride, despite the 20″ alloys with ultra-low profile tyres is just about right for balancing comfort with stability. The usual Insignia key points remain unchanged so far as seat comfort, equipment, legroom (though rear headroom is below par) and general value for money – this all singing Elite trim comes in at just over £28,000 based on list price excluding options.
“Be it touring or towning the 1.6 turbo offers an honestly impressive demonstration of torque, outright speed and refinement, call it as a gallon from a pint pot if you will”
All in all? well… its a damn fine car made that bit better thanks to a great engine and the aforementioned steering tweaks. Be it touring or towning the 1.6 turbo offers an honestly impressive demonstration of torque, outright speed and refinement, call it a gallon from pint pot if you will. As for economy, I found about 40mpg was the average for my mixed bag of mileage. It may not have the wow factor of a premium badge – always a Vauxhall flaw sadly… but you’d be a fool not to consider and try one for size… and they are big too!
MY RATING: 8/10
The Humble Opinion:
Like I’ve said… a good car made that bit better. I never really bonded with the 1.5 petrol versions but this new 1.6 200 Ps petrol is a hoot.
If they can nail the first contact quality like the wretched column switches and engineer the rear seat cushion to liberate a little extra headroom, I’d really have very little to whinge about. Its just what a large Vauxhall should be, namely: good value, well appointed, comfy, nimble, nippy, able to cruise forever and with low whole life costs.
Best of all for me anyway… its a handsome looking thing too – a thoroughly enjoyable piece of kit.
MODEL TESTED: Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport 1.6 Turbo petrol
PRICE: £28,070 ( In Elite Trim Level) Prices start circa £26,000
DRIVELINE: 1598cc 16v Turbo intercooled petrol with 6sp manual gearbox & FWD
POWER / TORQUE: 200Ps @ 5000rpm with 300Nm @ 1700rpm
ECONOMY: *44.8mpg (40.3mpg on actual test)
Co2: 145 G/Km
PERFORMANCE: *0 – 60 in 7.2 seconds with 146mph max
* = Govt or manufacturers claimed data
🙂 WHATS GREAT ABOUT IT?
- Superb compromise of performance and refinement
- Excellent low down torque
- Relaxing and engaging to drive
- Disarming when cruising motorways
- Colourful and good to look at displays
- Agreeable value for money
😦 WHAT GRATES ABOUT IT?
- Below par feeling of indicator and wiper stalks
- Rear headroom is poor for taller occupants
- Cubby holes and trinket trays in the centre console need illumination
- Rear wash wipe and twin tone horns have quietly been deleted
For further information of the Insignia or generic Vauxhall range CLICK HERE