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.
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.
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.
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.