What's it like?
The last car I drove which mated a 250bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine to an eight-speed automatic was the Audi A5 Sportback we road-tested a few weeks ago, which went like stink, sounded like a suppressed gunshot and engaged each of its gears with the precision of a nine-dart finish.
The Insignia’s most notable shortcoming then is not that its powertrain is bad, but that the latest comparable backdrop is so transparently good. Trivial irks prevail in retrospect. Fast starts in the Vauxhall tend to want an old-fashioned buildup of engine revs before anything much happens; on the motorway, downshifting from the ultra-long final ratio into something more productive seems to take a while, because the 'box is a little too intent on dabbling with seventh before summoning up fifth or sixth.
Its lack of a bespoke, lever-finding ‘Sport’ mode or else paddle-shifters feels like an oversight even at half the price of the A5 Sportback. Nevertheless, this absence best demonstrates the sort of car Vauxhall actually intends the Turbo to be. Regardless of the badge, this isn't an Ingolstadt-style hard-charger - it mostly wants to be thought of as a distant relative to the long-dead big-capacity option: amenable, quiet, and just brisk enough to be considered effortless.
This it manages rather well, driven with the right kind of consideration. Like the cooking model (and much like the Astra, too) it is the saving in weight which makes the Insignia immediately more biddable than its predecessor, and more obviously likeable, too. Adaptive dampers are standard in the 4x4 Turbo, and in their more submissive settings, they do a remarkably worthy job of isolating occupants from the nastier side effects of the car's outsized alloys.
The four-wheel-drive system, bolstered in this case by winter tyres, feeds into much the same usable theme. The Twinster’s ability to move torque either side of an axle is intended to deliver a pleasantly neutral handling bias - but it was equally unfazed by a Norwegian blizzard, which easily qualifies the Insignia as a credible all-weather option.