Bigger and more upmarket Vectra replacement is here in November
22 July 2008

Vauxhall is the latest mass manufacturer to launch a ‘near premium’ family car in the form of the new Vauxhall Insignia.

It’s viewed as so different from its Vectra predecessor that a new name was required – a change that’s also reflected in the redesigned Vauxhall badge that its debuts.

Design

The Insignia looks nothing like a Vectra, or any other recent GM product, because the company has decided its models should be more widely differentiated in appearance than previously.

The Insignia has grown in size, it’s longer than both the Vectra it replaces and the Mondeo. GM has tried to keep the Insignia’s mass under control by introducing more light metal and plastic components, but it’s still 150kg heavier than the Vectra, model-for-model.

The Insignia’s design is described as being ‘coupe-like’, with wide haunches intended to give it a powerful look and a suggestion that it’s rear-wheel drive (although it isn’t.) ‘Blade’ shapes are integrated into the door surfaces, an idea first seen on the GTC concept coupe.

Technology

Vauxhall is proud of several Insignia-only innovations, including new generation adaptive lights (whose beam shapes adapt to prevailing speed and road conditions through nine settings) and a front-facing camera that reads speed limits signs and displays them on the instrument display.

Chassis, suspension

The Insignia’s suspension sounds familiar, but its development underscores GM’s determination to challenge the likes of BMW and Audi. To cut unsprung weight (and improve ride) the steering knuckle/ strut carrier is made in aluminium, and the anti-roll bar is hollow. At the rear, the car gets a four-link, independent suspension (strategically strengthened for 4x4 applications) and there are also hydraulically damped bushes to aid noise suppression.

Some versions get a switchable three-mode damper system that offers Normal, Tour (relaxed) and Sport settings. As well as firming up the suspension and - for 4x4 Insignias – adding more rear-drive bias. Sport mode also changes the backlighting of the instruments from white to red.

Engines, transmissions

Insignia buyers are offered a choice of five engines from launch, all meeting Euro 5 exhaust emissions standards.

The three-tier direct injection petrol range consists of a 1.8-litre/138bhp ‘eco’ four, a 2.0-litre/217bhp turbo four with twin balancer shafts for smoothness, and a 2.8-litre/256bhp turbocharged V6.

Two diesel powerplants will be available from launch, both using GM’s 2.0-litre 16-valve direct injection motor, and available in either 128bhp or 157bhp states of tune.

Interior

Vauxhall’s designers claim the Insignia’s interior is their biggest step forward. It has a cosseting cabin, bristling with impressions of quality and comfort you wouldn’t expect in a car of this price, not even a Mondeo or an Accord.

The cabin architecture wraps around the driver and the new-design seats are shaped for enhanced crash safety. Vauxhall claims it’s possible to achieve a comfortable, low-set driving position in keeping with the car’s sporty aspirations. Top-end Insignias get electric height and four-way lumbar adjustments too. Sports seats are optional.

Spec

There are five trim levels: S, Exclusiv, SE, Elite and SRi. They’re not merely arranged in ascending price order (the Elite and SRi diverge respectively towards luxury and performance), and wheel sizes vary through 16- to 20-inch.

All cars get impressive standard equipment including ESP, cruise control, automatic headlights, electric driver’s seat height and lumbar adjustment plus an extensive suite of airbags (front, side and curtain). There’s an all-new infotainment system with improved sat nav and a standard MP3/iPod port.

Conclusion

The new Insignia’s credentials — and Vauxhall’s track record — make it overwhelmingly likely that this new entry will go close to the top of the class.

How close? We’ll tell you as soon as we can put one up against its most significant rivals.

Steve Cropley

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Insignia

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

Join the debate

Comments
38

22 July 2008

'Near Premium Family Car' eh? Well, judging from the pictures, Vauxhall could be accused of plagiarising Hyundai's X20 (Elantra). Does that mean that, what is now the 5th largest car manufacturer in the world, is starting to build cars that others admire?

22 July 2008

Looks OK from the side and the interior is good but has a bizarre droopiness from the front and back...

22 July 2008

Looks like the blandest pile of poop in the world to me. Still, sales reps of the world should be happy (providing its got somewhere to hang their jackets).

22 July 2008

Looks great to me, inside and out. However, much as I love Autocar magazine, whatever Vauxhall do to the Insignia - even if they fit it with a Lambo engine, provide a 20 year warranty, and a free Astra VXR - I would put money on them preferring the Mondeo! I actually think the current Vectra is a great car and not far off the current Mondeo - a fantastic drive and the interior is quite good. However, it is deathly dull design wise.

22 July 2008

How can anyone label this as bland? This looks quite a way better than any BMW or Audi out there, and it looks like a real quality product. Not keen on that colour, but providing the engines are clean and economical enough, this could be the next big thing... Oh and I do not know how anyone could possibly buy a SUV over this!!

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

22 July 2008

[quote James Read]

Looks like the blandest pile of poop in the world to me. Still, sales reps of the world should be happy (providing its got somewhere to hang their jackets).

[/quote]

We agree James. Although the interior stays fairly true to the concept version, the exterior is plain awful. The best bit is the redesigned Griffin on the front, much more with it than the current one.

22 July 2008

[quote Mini1]

How can anyone label this as bland? This looks quite a way better than any BMW or Audi out there, and it looks like a real quality product. Not keen on that colour, but providing the engines are clean and economical enough, this could be the next big thing... Oh and I do not know how anyone could possibly buy a SUV over this!!

[/quote]

A quite astonishing post. Given that you are so far wide of the mark, I can only think that you are trying to be funny or ironic and are thus agreeing with me. If not, I fear that you could not find your own arse in the dark with both hands and a torch and worry for your safety.

So the Vauxhall Inrepmobilia is a better looking car than the Audi R8, is it ? The BMW 3 series coupe is a worse looking car ? You'd rather have the Inshitia than a Range Rover ?Ye Gods, man, do you know anything about cars ?

Your right on one thing. They will be the next big thing. Fleet managers will be lining up to buy them. One reason why the rest of us should not.

22 July 2008

[quote Jon Hardcastle]We agree James.[/quote]

The Royal "we", John ? How is Phillip ?

22 July 2008

The Vauxhall Insignificant?

22 July 2008

so , james read, if someone doesnt agree with you, they know nothing about cars?

Quite astonishing arrogance, and then some.

Unless you are being humorous.

Which i doubt.

SHOCK AUTOCAR FORUM POSTER IN PRO VAUXHALL RANT.

however normality is soon restored as the BMW loving mass bring order to the ranks.


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