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All-new Vauxhall Insignia has improved in pretty much every single department

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

The new Insignia is essential to Vauxhall’s future and needs to be good. So is it?

Steve Cropley Autocar
15 March 2017

What is it?

You’re looking at Vauxhall's new big-saloon flagship. The perceived decline in demand for large cars over the past decade hasn’t done much to harm the UK success of the Vauxhall Insignia.

Luton counts the 4.9-metre-long exec as one of its successes — one good reason why it has unveiled this new version this month, now called the Insignia Grand Sport. First deliveries are planned for late in June.

Prices, some revised downwards by as much as £1500 to fit new benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax categories, start at £17,115 for the entry-level Design model powered by a new 1.5-litre, 138bhp engine, and peak at £29,210 for the 2.0-litre, 256bhp Elite, which comes complete with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, an exceptionally deep specification and full-time four-wheel-drive. There are two petrol and two diesel engines on offer, with six different power outputs starting with the 108bhp 1.6 diesel, which delivers the range’s headline CO2 figure of 105g/km.

Since the launch of the original model in 2008, the Insignia has consistently delivered a bloody nose to two tough Volkswagen Group competitors, the Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Superb, and has also matched blows with premium saloons from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW that have lately dropped into its upper price echelons.

However, with this new 2017 Insignia Grand Sport, Vauxhall says it’s getting serious. The Insignia now has all-new coupé-like styling reminiscent of the company’s 2013 Monza concept, a 92mm-longer wheelbase and a 55mm-longer body (now 4897mm overall) which allows for more leg, head, shoulder and hip room in the rear — previous points of criticism — and luggage space practically as big as the old models’ vast enclosures.

What's it like?

The more graceful shape results from a lower scuttle, a longer bonnet (which is now aluminium), a prouder, more vertical front grille, narrower headlights (including new LED, 32-element IntelliLux units, a £1010 option), a longer wheelbase and sculpted body sides that present Vauxhall’s familiar blade-like styling element in a new way.

The Insignia Grand Sport comes with wheels varying in diameter from 17in to 20in depending on specification, but all models have the same spring and damper rates for their all-independent suspension. A Tourer (estate) version carrying a £1500 premium is due a few weeks after the saloon and a higher-riding Country Tourer model is due at the year-end.

Like the current Astra, the Insignia delivers a startling weight saving right across the range: up to 175kg, model-for-model, of which 60kg comes from the body alone. The car is also impressively aerodynamic. Design chief Mark Adams cites the simplicity of the sleek lines as one reason for an impressively low drag factor of 0.26. The interior is similarly impressive: it is simple, drawing inspiration from the clean surfaces of the exterior, and from Adams’ preoccupation with simple logic for switch design and layout. Best of all is an enhanced aura of quality, inside and out.

On the road, the new Grand Sport has the same relaxed, easy-cruising feel as its predecessor, but improved. Its slight increases in length and width aren’t detectable from the driving seat, though when you set it up for a six-footer, there’s still decent generous room for same in the rear. Our test car, a mid-spec Insignia Grand Sport Tech Line manual retailing at £23,910 (with £3900 worth of accessories that included the IntelliLux headlights, a newly-offered £705 glass sunroof and £555 worth of two-coat metallic paint) had the more powerful of two 1.5-litre petrol versions, packing 163bhp claimed to give it an 8.4sec 0-60mph time and a 138mph top speed.

The peak torque of 184lb ft, developed between 2000 and 4500rpm, felt even more relevant to the car’s performance, however, because one feature especially relevant to UK motorways was the car’s relaxed gearing (2500rpm at 70mph) and another was its surprisingly strong top-gear acceleration around that speed. The six-speed manual gearbox is sweet-shifting and its action matches the clutch perfectly, but once the engine is turning beyond 3000rpm, it gains speed in high gears without effort or noise.

This model/engine combination turns in combined fuel consumption of 47.1mpg, while emitting 136g/km of CO2, which promises day-to-day consumption in the late 30mpg bracket. With the 65-litre fuel tank, the car should have an easy cruising range of 460 miles-plus.

The Insignia Grand Sport’s long wheelbase and wide track make this a very stable car with excellent directional stability. The 17in wheels on the car we tried were very good at damping higher frequency surface disturbances, but we get the feeling that bigger wheels with classier rubber would have sharpened the steering, which is okay, but still fails to stand out. They might increase tyre noise, though, which is already no better than average in a class that contains some good performers.

Overall ride comfort is better than before, and just about ideal for a car like this: flat and notably quiet over bumps, with a decent level of damper control that promotes good grip and near-neutral handling in fast corners. Brakes are powerful and easy to modulate. Even so, the 'Sport' in this car’s title shouldn’t be taken literally. The Grand Sport’s engine is smooth and quiet, and its wind noise is commendably low.

Should I buy one?

Looks very good to us. In the new Insignia Grand Sport, Vauxhall has repaid its supporters’ eight years of solid support by digging deep to give this replacement a whole raft of worthwhile changes that improve the looks, the space, the handling, the economy and the comfort. And in strategic places, the prices are lower, too.

In short, Vauxhall’s biggest saloon looks a better proposition than ever.

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport Tech Line 1.5 Nav

Price £23,910; Engine 4cyls, 1490cc, petrol; Power 163bhp at 5600rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 2000-4500pm; Gearbox Six-speed manual; Kerb weight 1500kg est; 0-60mph 8.4sec; Top speed 138mph; Economy 47.1mpg combined; CO2/tax band 136g/km, 26%; Rivals VW Passat 1.4 TSi, Skoda Superb 1.4 TSi 150

Join the debate

Comments
44

16 March 2017
They blanked out that side window behind the rear door! Does nobody care about visibility? Or did it save $1? Seems to me this car only has one rival - the Ford Mondeo. How come Autocar steered off comparisons with that? This car is quite good looking and will sell literally dozens here, rebadged as a Holden. Right up to the point PSA discontinue it, dropping already poor residuals to the ground. Robbo

Aussie Rob - a view from down under

A34

16 March 2017
... a Cadillac! 4.9m of rep mobile. Autobahn muncher for those preferring FWD (not a BMW) or anti-dieselgate (no Audi or Skoda). And a bargain at the lower end of the range it seems!

16 March 2017
[quote=Aussierob]They blanked out that side window behind the rear door! Does nobody care about visibility? Or did it save $1? Seems to me this car only has one rival - the Ford Mondeo. How come Autocar steered off comparisons with that? This car is quite good looking and will sell literally dozens here, rebadged as a Holden. Right up to the point PSA discontinue it, dropping already poor residuals to the ground. Robbo[/quote] Other rivals are the Skoda Octavia and Superb, the new Insignia probably sits in the middle close to Superb size, and that model manages an elegant side profile without resorting to black plastic fake window inserts. Plus you buy/service/warranty it at a Skoda dealer rather than a horrendous Vauxhall dealer where every warranty claim is a shouting match.

16 March 2017
The blanked side 'window' is such an obvious and massive mistake isn't it? Really makes you question the competence of the designers and management at GME. Consciously or subconsciously, consumers will note this as a sign of cost cutting that undermines the notion of this being a quality vehicle.

16 March 2017
The styling and interior looked great in the launch pictures - this model tested looks a bit dull...

16 March 2017
I bet a group test will show this car is still trailing the pack. Same story for recent Corsa and Astra launches. Nothing good (apart from the VX220) has ever come from this company.

16 March 2017
Looks dowdy and awful. Can't imagine anyone ever wanting one. Being forced to drive one because of budget / practical requirements yes, but actually aspiring to own one? Na, don't think so.

16 March 2017
Another fair and interesting comment from the Ellesmere Port hater

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

20 March 2017
winniethewoo wrote:

Looks dowdy and awful. Can't imagine anyone ever wanting one. Being forced to drive one because of budget / practical requirements yes, but actually aspiring to own one? Na, don't think so.

Funny things cars - and people who think they are interested in them - but whos knowledge and understanding actually begins and ends with the badge on the bonnet. No matter how good the car is, no matter how positive the write up their prejudices and limited imagination results in them rubbishing them out of hand without even seeing one in the flesh let alone driving one.

16 March 2017
Looks good but needs big wheels. Will wait til a few are knocking about second hand for a nice handsome bargain.

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