Have you seen the advert for the Insignia? If not, a brief overview is “An agent infiltrates a top security testing facility to find out about a secret project code named ‘The Insignia Project’. The agent finds out it’s high tech, advanced, as if the car can see it reads road signs and it can automatically dip it’s headlights. What else can it do?”
Quite honestly, the toys we see on this Insignia, have been seen elsewhere on the prestigious German brands, but wait, we’re not talking about Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi or even Lexus, we’re talking about our own home grown manufacturer Vauxhall or to our brothers and sisters across the water, Opel.
This car is really important for Vauxhall for a few reasons, it’s their new flagship model, is basically the replacement for the Vectra so needs to shake that rather negative image of ‘just a rep-mobile’, is going head to head with the Ford Mondeo, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the newly launched Seat Exeo.
The model we tested was the Insignia Sri 2.0CDTi with 160PS. Specs are impressive for such power in a very heavy vehicle. The maximum permissible weight is basically, the car, with passengers and a boot full. The insignia weighs in at a hefty 2145KG, the Audi A4 2015KG and the BMW 3-Series 1950KG.
The equivalent cars also either have a 143PS or 170PS engines, where as the Insignia has either 130PS or 160PS variants.
The Insignia SRI has less power and is clinically obese, so you’d expect it to accelerate slower than a Victorian Barn. However, this is where nothing short of a miracle has occurred for our good men and women at Vauxhall. The Audi A4 (170) manages a 0-62 time of 8.3 seconds, the Insignia, with 10 less PS and extra 130KG of Gross Weight, 8.9 seconds. That’s just 0.6, yes point 6 of a second slower.
This does however have an even better advantage, insurance premiums. The Audi A4 comes in at insurance group 14E where as the Insignia is just 10E (160PS) if you’re not looking for that extra zip but would like a 130PS Insignia SRI, just insurance group 8E.
MPG for the 160PS SRI are good, the standard 2.0CDTI has a combined figure of 48.7mpg where as if you buy a different model of the car with an EcoFlex 160PS 2.0CDTI you can expect a whopping combined figure of 54.7mpg. Motorway driving, we were told by the dealer to easily expect 70mpg at normal motorway speeds, using that elusive but useful sixth gear. Taking the Audi A4 as an example the combined figure for the Audi is better than the standard figure the Insignia, if you want about the same MPG as it’s rivals, go for the EcoFlex.
The first thing we noticed about the Insignia was it’s striking design, a large strong front end that swoops into a lovely sculptured rear end. The interior was also incredibly designer too, this is as far from the old Vectra as it possibly could do, swooping metal door grabs, soft touch plastic and the what we think the most important of all, comfortable seats. Somebody in the office had the pleasure of owning a 2.5 V6 Vectra Sri, the seats were flat and rock hard, a complete contrast to what’s on offer in it’s replacement.
Once inside the vehicle, it’s quiet, everything feels well put together and you honestly feel like you’re about to drive something worth a lot of money.
Start the diesel engine which is incredibly quiet and refined and away we went. The 6 speed box as with all new cars takes some getting used to, if you don’t own a six speed you often find yourself cruising at 70mph on the motorway in fifth, when really for comfort, lower revs, better fuel economy, you should be in sixth. 5 comes naturally, 6 takes a little effort to begin with.
Gear changes are quick and sharp, you have to be gentle on the clutch otherwise the car will lurch/catch if you let off the pedal too quickly but after a few gear changes, you’re used to it and everything settles in nicely.
Being the SRI the car has been lowered and has optional 20” alloys. Even so the ride quality was exceptional, firm enough to handle the car around corners at speed, but soft enough to be able to cruise the motorways for a hard days driving. This is a welcome aspect for us as all the German counterparts still feel way too hard, of course this is down to personal preference but the Insignia does give a more forgiving ride.
The car does feel quite heavy, there is just a sense that you’re driving something made out of armoured metal, not a tin can like Vauxhalls of old, this reinforces the quality and refinement this car really has. Saying that, the steering is direct, responsive and the car stays planted and firm around those country twists and turns. It’s an amazing feat what Vauxhall have managed to do with this car. It’s a proper all rounder, a true useable vehicle for whatever journey you need to take.
The toys on this car deserve respect for Vauxhall. Gadgets such as, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated (Cooled) seats, Bi-Xenon headlamps with daytime running lights which also include Adaptive Forward Lighting, something we are particularly excited about. That’s because AFL adjusts the way the lights shine depending on the situation/location you are driving the vehicle, for example ‘Town Light – Wider and lower spread of light. Activated by vehicle speed together with street lighting’ ‘Motorway light – (over 60mph) 140 metre range, higher and brighter than normal low beam but without dazzle’ ’High beam with assist, automatically switches from high to low beam when it detects oncoming or preceding vehicles’.
Other systems such as a 230 Volt plug socket in the rear to use laptops, DVD player, play station directly off the car without the need for an inverter, Sat Nav, flex drive, adaptive 4×4, road sign safety system . . . Let’s leave it at that because I’m going to leave you with a question.
What else can it do? Discover more on Vauxhalls website. We like this car very much, once again as with all our new road tests, I didn’t want to have to drive away and leave our test car at the dealership, it breaks my heart ‘nearly’ every time.