New Vauxhall Insignia – First Drive

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The Vauxhall Insignia has been a big hit for the British since it replaced the Vectra back in 2008. In fact, it was such a big hit that it’s been the best selling car in its segment, every year, without fail. Not content with this though, Vauxhall now wants to take on the big guns – the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes C-Class.

Key Features

  • Longer and wider, but also shorter
  • Upto 175kg lighter, depending on model
  • More premium
  • New 1.5 litre petrol engine
  • New torque vectoring four-wheel drive system available on certain models
  • Super bright LED headlights (not available on all models)
  • OnStar system
  • New 8-speed automatic transmission – a first for any Vauxhall model
  • Prices start at £17,115
  • Also available in Sports Tourer and Country Tourer guises
  • Choice of seven trims and six engines
New Vauxhall Insignia
Which colour would you have? I rather like the white.

SRI VX-Line Nav 2.0 Litre Turbo Diesel

The first car I jumped in was the SRI Nav, fitted with the 167bhp 2.0 litre turbo diesel, which was mated to a 6-speed manual box. It’s a very classy looking car and it follows on from the design language from the previous model, but with inspiration also being taken from the Monza Concept. This model Lava Red and was sat on the optional 20″ alloys, which look great but do create a fair bit of road noise. Therefore I’d stick with the 18s if I were you.

Step in to the car and you’ll likely to be surprised by the low driving position. It’s 29mm lower than the outgoing model, and although that may not sound like much, it does make a difference. The centre console has also been raised, meaning that you feel cocooned in the car. This is a deliberate move by Vauxhall as the brand wanted to make drivers feel like they are sat in the car, rather than on it.

It’s a nice place to be as well – there are soft touch materials, a nice big touchscreen and plenty of kit to be getting on with. The SRI Nav model serves as one of the mid-range models, but even the base model offers kit such as air con, Bluetooth, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and rear cross traffic alert to name a few. This model though has additional feature such as navigation – hence the name – dark tinted windows, climate control and ergonomic sports seats to name a few.

On The Road

The 2.0 litre turbo diesel offers 167bhp and 400Nm of torque, meaning a 0-60 time of 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. It’s a decent engine and it’s one that pulls very well indeed. As you would expect from a diesel, it’s torquey and it’s also got a nice mid-range grunt to it. You can make progress in it pretty well and because this is the sportier trim, it also has three driving modes.

Normal is, well for normal, and you also have Tour and Sport. Tour is very much the comfort setting, for when you’ve had a stressful day at work and you just want to sit back in the set, and Sport is obviously when you want to be a bit more racey. Don’t expect VXR kind of performance, but you do notice the satisfying increase in the steering weight and the improved throttle response.

New Vauxhall Insignia

As much as this car can be dynamic – one of the aims of the new model – it makes a wonderful cruiser and I imagine it could eat up motorway miles for breakfast. It’s comfortable too, and if you get rid of the big wheels, it’s civilised inside the cabin as well. You may even forget that you’re even driving a Vauxhall, as the whole thing feels quite…German. Again, this is a deliberate ploy by the British brand as it wants to compete with the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes C-Class.

It may be a big car, but because it’s lighter it means it’s more nimble and as a result, it handles rather well. Obviously it’s no match for an M3, but chuck in to a corner and you’ll find the car feels very composed and planted, with very little body roll. All of these aspects really do make the car an attractive choice. Plus that 2.0 litre diesel isn’t as dirty as you think. It produces 136g/km, which is impressive if you ask me and you can expect 54.3 mpg. Road tax comes in at £200 for the first year and £140 each year thereafter.

What’s That New Petrol Engine Like?

Well good thing you ask that, as I was also able to test the Tech Line Nav, which featured the new 1.5 litre petrol. This replaces the old 1.6 litre petrol unit and produces 163bhp. That’s a similar figure to the 2.0 litre diesel and a result buyers can expect similar performance. 0-60 comes in an ever-so-slightly slower 8.4 seconds and the top speed is 138mph. It does of course have less torque than its diesel counterpart, but it still pulls well.

This is the engine that is to be fitted in the entry model, but that’s not to say it’s an engine you won’t want. This too was mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, which was satisfying to use as it was accuarate and smooth, much like the car itself. The only downside is that, predictably, the economy isn’t as good as the diesel. The engine produces the same 136g/km CO2 emissions as the diesel, but the mpg falls to the 47.1 mpg.

Final Thoughts

These were only quick drives, so this is by no means a thorough review, but I can report that Vauxhall looks to be on to another winner with its new Insignia Grand Sport. The previous model was a consistent top seller and I can see no reason why this model can’t be either.

New Vauxhall Insignia

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