A cross-continental tour in the Vauxhall Insignia proves to be a breeze; Prime Minister Cameron goes to Goodwood; driving Infiniti's Q70
Steve Cropley Autocar
25 February 2015

MONDAY - It’s not often, even in the car-testing racket, that one gets to spend a whole day just driving. Well, driving and talking.

When photographer Stan Papior and I set off in the newly engined Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 diesel to tour Europe on a single tank in a single day we didn’t expect it to be so simply pleasurable.

The car was always enjoyable, and far more frugal than we expected. The journey turned from a mere mile-gatherer into a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the man who made Elvis.

The weather moved right across the spectrum from rubbish to bright clarity. I especially enjoy the way hours of driving sharpen you up. It’s good to be reminded that driving a decent car, like flying an aeroplane, is fun in its own right, not just a means to an end.   

WEDNESDAY - Who’d be a politician? The drawback must surely be that your foot is perpetually close to your mouth, as David Cameron’s was when he visited Rolls-Royce today.

Our PM is understandably keen to associate himself with the achievements of the industry so selected hacks (editor Mr Holder prominent) were invited to watch him take questions from Goodwood employees, where he came across as honest and amiable.

Then came the inevitable car question: have you ever driven a Rolls? Cameron explained that he hadn’t, mainly because security men preferred him to be driven in an armour-plated Jag. Still, he observed, the weight of all that armour probably meant the Jag felt “a bit like a Rolls to drive”.

There must have been a slapping noise as the palms of Rolls managers hit their foreheads, plus a feeling of deep irony in the breast of anyone who knows the truth about forthcoming Rolls-Royces and the disadvantages of weight in cars.

The company has just finished announcing that every future model will have a bespoke spaceframe – made of weight-paring aluminium.

THURSDAY - I’ve driven so many good cars lately that I approached the prospect of conducting a large Infiniti Q70 saloon on an urgent errand Up North with trepidation, especially since this was the tax-busting 168bhp four-pot 2.2D version.

In the event, the Q70 turned out to be a pleasant and efficient car that made a very decent case for big saloons, what with its Swiss-watch quality, supple ride and terrific motorway stability.

In fact, this and my Insignia experience, plus what Matt Prior writes about the 1.0 Ford Mondeo, makes me wonder if we’re overlooking generously proportioned saloons too much these days, given that they’re cheaper than equivalent SUVs with the same carrying capacity.

The Infiniti’s Merc-sourced diesel is acceptably quiet and responsive and I warmed to the car’s ride and steering. The omission of DAB radio is a truly inexcusable error, but I still reckon a business user tucked into one of these could end up loving it.

FRIDAY - Delighted to see the Formula E organisers have cemented a London event this summer, but less pleased that it clashes with the Goodwood Festival of Speed, to which the Steering Committee and I always go.

Some of my office colleagues reckon such a clash only matters to hacks, but I doubt Lord March will be so sanguine. Date collisions between important motorsport events are getting to be a serious problem.

Besides this clash, I’m affected by two others: Le Mans versus Brooklands D12 versus Cholmondeley Pageant of Power on 14/15 June, and Prescott’s la vie en bleu versus the Down Ampney Stages, both in Gloucestershire on 23/24 May. Applying a couple of clichés to the situation, variety is the spice of life, but this is too much of a good thing.

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Insignia

The Vauxhall Insignia is only small details away from rivalling the class best

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Comments
5

25 February 2015
"In fact, this and my Insignia experience, plus what Matt Prior writes about the 1.0 Ford Mondeo, makes me wonder if we’re overlooking generously proportioned saloons too much these days, given that they’re cheaper than equivalent SUVs with the same carrying capacity."

Absolutely. But then, that makes them bargain buys for the rest of us, when eveyone has followed the herd and bought a "me too!" Qashcow.

A34

25 February 2015
A Mondeo / Insignia / Passat / A4 (/or even new Octavia) wouldn't fit on my drive! That's one reason the MPVs and small SUVs are popular - they use vertical not kerb space...

25 February 2015
The lower the car to the ground the better the drive. A saloon/estate will thus be superior in combined comfort and handling to an SUV that are forced to make their suspension less supple to keep them heaving into corners to the general detriment of ride quality.

25 February 2015
An old-skool saloon is a driving pleasure, rather more than a wobbly SUV? You know, they might just catch on amongst those who like a good steer...
  • If you want to know about a car, read a forum dedicated to it; that's a real 'long term test' . No manufacturer's warranty, no fleet managers servicing deals, no journalist's name to oil the wheels...

26 February 2015
day driving experience, Steve. Just brought my Boxster S back from Mallorca to London. Started out as ferry to Barcelona, couple of nights there and then off to Santander for another ferry to UK Only storms in the Bay of Biscay put paid to that. With unchangeable meetings scheduled in London nothing for it but to point East and then North to Tunnel Sous la Manche. Weather turned really bad in mid France - viz in torrential rain down to 30 mph safe speed on the autoroute - and the overnight stop in Versailles was welcome. But driving for hours on end - I'm not one for all this stop after two hours for 20 minutes stuff - was really enjoyable. Boxster superb in these conditions. Quiet despite the soft-top up to about 160kph - the French are very sporting and warn where there are cameras - sure-footed, fast enough to accelerate out of trouble and averaging 30mpg. Quite a change from my departed XKR which would have struggled to do much more than 18 mpg in the same conditions and always scared the crap out of me in the wet at any speed.

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