You’ve got to be prepared to head back nearly 20 years to remember the last time that Ford and Vauxhalls’ rivalry over big family cars produced anything other than a win for the blue team.
The outgoing Vectra was a fine car when it came to the dull practicalities of A-to-B running, but nobody with even an ounce of petrol in their veins was likely to choose one over a Mondeo.
But now Vauxhall has an all-new D-Segment champ in the shape of the Insignia, which is far more than a new name and a set of clothes. The 158bhp Exclusiv version that I’ve just been driving was deeply impressive: good value, refined, smart-looking and – whisper it – almost as much fun to drive as the Mondeo.
This is big news, because ever since the Mondeo arrived back in 1993 (blowing the mk3 Cavalier out of the water on comparative dynamics), the Ford has been the near-default choice for the enthusiastic driver picking out a repbox.
You’d have to go back to the last days of the Sierra to find a closer fight between Griffin and Oval, and after spending a couple of days in a fairly basic Insignia, I have to say that I think it’s got the measure of lower-spec versions of the Mondeo.
Indeed, if I was in the market for a mainstream diesel family car, I’d reckon that the Insignia 2.0 CDTi 160’s combination of pace, value, style and comfort was pretty much irresistible, to the extent of walking straight past a Ford dealer and onto a Vauxhall forecourt.
That’s not something I ever expected to say last year when I first drove the current Mondeo.