First DriveThe refreshed Insignia is a capable all-round machine with notably better driving dynamics
First DriveA seriously competent all-rounder, but undone by cheaper rivals
What is it?
There was always going to be a problem with this car. The new Insignia BiTurbo sits at the top of the Insignia diesel range, benefitting from a new 192bhp twin-turbo diesel motor, adaptive four-wheel drive and adaptive dampers. We test drove the saloon, though in the UK this full-fat diesel Insignia will only be available as a hatch or estate.
Of course, all the equipment means that you’ll pay £29,785 for the Insignia BiTurbo 4x4 hatchback, or £27,180 if you’re willing to put up with front-wheel drive, but even in this form it sits within range of well-equipped yet more premium rivals.
What’s it like?
It’s certainly a very willing and responsive powertrain. We tested the car on mountain roads as well as in the usual motorway and urban environments, and it dealt with all of them with equal ease. In particular, the linear power delivery offered by the sequential turbocharging is a real benefit over the single-turbo’d equivalent.
Our test car came with the £1695 optional ‘supersport chassis pack’, which brings with it the company’s clever HiPerStrut suspension, 20-inch alloys and brembo brakes, and this together with the adaptive four-wheel drive keeps the nose firmly in line. It will wash wide into understeer if really pushed but 99 per cent of the time it remains reassuringly faithful to your inputs.
Ride quality is also very acceptable. We found that simply leaving the dampers in ‘standard’ mode worked best generally. In this mode the Insignia will thump a little over urban roads, but bump absorption, body control and in particular the directional stability at high speeds is very good.
Sport mode (when the steering and throttle responses are also sharpened) does an admirable job of enhancing the whole package. It still doesn’t feel particularly engaging, but it’s easy to enjoy driving it quickly and smoothly, even on very challenging roads.
Should I buy one?
Given the competitive 146g/km CO2 output and the lavish kit levels and you have a properly capable all-round executive hatch.
Yet we wouldn’t recommend you buy this particular top-end Insignia. Not so much because an extra £500 will get you a A4 2.0 TDI Quattro SE Technik, but mainly because you could save yourself £3,500 and buy a range-topping 168bhp Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI 4x4. And at that point, the Insignia’s case becomes nearly impossible to argue.
Price: £29,785; Top speed: 142mph; 0-60mph: 8.4sec; Economy: 54.4mpg; Co2: 146g/km; Kerb weight: 1788kg; Engine type: 1956cc, 4cyls, turbodiesel; Power: 192bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 295lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual