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Like the Stones, we have our very own mobile recording studio - 4th July 2018
I’m going to let you in on a secret. Let me explain. When you watch one of our Autocar video reviews on YouTube, you’ll hear a voiceover. In order to commit this to tape, we have to find as silent a space as possible, because the sensitive microphones pick up every squeak, raindrop and passing aircraft in glorious high definition.
Luckily, car makers tend to spend a lot of time soundproofing their cabins to eliminate road and wind noise at motorway speeds. This makes the rear seat of a car about as good a place as you’ll find to record voiceover without building your own bespoke sound booth.
So how does our Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer stack up as a recording studio? The truth is: quite well. As you can see, the increased rear leg room over the previous generation means there’s ample space for the microphone, stand and presenter.
Soundproofing is good too. It’s not as well noise-damped as, say, the Bentley Bentayga that we ran on our fleet last year, but it’s certainly good enough as long as you’re not parked next to a revving V10. (Yes, we did use the Bentley as a sound booth too – spoilt, I know.)
That reflects itself in road noise. On the motorway, the Insignia Sports Tourer is perhaps a little louder inside than more premium, more expensive rivals such as a BMW 520d Touring, but it’s certainly accomplished enough for the price bracket that it’s in. You do not, for example, have to raise voices to hold a conversation when up to speed.
Its 1956cc twin-turbo diesel, which puts out 207bhp, does fade to a distant rumble on a motorway. But under the sudden acceleration of a quiet morning’s commute, the kickdown and resulting blow of puff to get car and driver up to speed noticeably reverberate around the cockpit, although not immoderately compared with direct rivals.
The specification of our Sports Tourer contributes to this too. A two-wheel-drive equivalent would almost certainly be a quieter drivetrain to run, but I wouldn’t trade the car’s winter performance that we highlighted in previous reports for a more tranquil ride.
Additionally, the 20in alloy wheels undoubtedly transfer more sound from the Tarmac into the cabin than the 18in options that you can put on a lower-spec version. These are, however, standard with this powertrain and the chosen Elite Nav level of trim. In my eyes, smaller wheels would compromise the alluring looks of the long, sleek wagon too. Call me vain.
This trim level does have a weapon up its sleeve to combat what road and wind noise there is, however. The seven-speaker Bose sound system provides a crisp alternative to conversation and the presence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto means you have your favourite tunes readily available, even after you’ve exhausted the exhaustive DAB radio channel list.
So that’s the secret: a good quality video is very much dictated by the quality of cabin isolation from road noise. In this department, our Vauxhall Insignia proves more than adequate and, if you were so inclined, you could doubtlessly specify an even quieter one to come out of Rüsselsheim.
Although it’s no Abbey Road, the Sports Tourer remains a good companion for sound recordists, or even just those after a reasonably quiet ride.