Insignia 2.0 CDTi Exclusiv 5-door
styling and German
premium values, but at
a headline-grabbing £15,935
are the key points for the new
BUT VAUXHALL'S NEWCOMER IS MUCH MORE THAN THAT. It points the way
forward for Vauxhall as a brand to become more desirable. Like its main competitors
such as the new Ford Mondeo, Honda Accord, Renault Laguna, Citroen C5 and Skoda
Superb, the new Insignia is a distinct move up market for styling, specification,
quality and size. This moves the brand ever closer to the premium end of the
sector dominated by the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The core platform designed for Insignia will be used worldwide by Vauxhall's
parent company GM and will spawn 17 different models and eight body styles with
power sources from petrol to hybrids.
With the executive-sized, four-door coupé-styled Saloons and five-door Hatchbacks
arriving in the UK at the end of this year (and Sports Tourer five-door estates
early next year) the upper-medium sector of the new car market will become even
more competitive and provide strong competition for Ford's highly-praised
new Mondeo range.
The Insignia's elegant styling combines interesting sculptured artistry with
technical precision, illustrated by 'wing' and 'blade' themes which integrate
with the car's rakish silhouette. The body's sculpted shape is punctuated by
sweeping front and rear light designs and fronted by a bold radiator grille,
which displays the refreshed Griffin logo in a new, circular surround carrying
Another benefit brought by the Insignia's flowing lines is a low Cd of just
0.27, bringing with it benefits both in fuel consumption and performance. All
body variants have an identical wheelbase of 2,737mm while the
Sports Tourer adds around 80mm to the 4,830mm length of the Saloon and Hatch
Inside the cabin the sweeping styling lines are continued the result
is a significant improvement in quality and overall appearance: the Insignia
just looks and feels a much classier car than the Vectra it replaces.
On the downside, the coupé roofline significantly limits rear seat headroom
in the Hatch and it is hardly any better in the Saloon. The steeply angled rear
window also restricts rearward vision. Rear seat legroom is also not plentiful
but there is, however, a huge boot/load bay that offers between 520 and 1,465
litres of load space.
In some areas the Insignia is a case of style over function; but the smart new
sporty image will be attractive to many more customers who might now find owning
a Vauxhall appealing.
Because there are so many models, specification levels and options available
and with a wide range of engines (in fact there's a total of 130 different model
combinations available, with still more to come!), I've just concentrated on
one specific model which I think is the sensible variant in today's cost-conscious
The Insignia Hatch has the best and most versatile body style and whilst I liked
the SE specification the most I tend to agree with Vauxhall that 'Exclusiv'
will be the most popular value-for-money specification. The best engine choice
in financial terms relative to enough performance for everyday use
is the turbodiesel 2.0-litre CDTi unit with 128bhp and 221lb ft of torque from
1,750rpm. This model comes with a six-speed manual gearbox and costs £16,935
By paying an extra £250, customers can opt for the 158bhp/258lb ft version of
the same engine this brings a marginal increase in performance, and no
doubt some drivers will consider it worthwhile.
Among the other engine options is a 138bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine but it does
not have enough torque for this size of car and feels sluggish on hills. The
2.0-litre, 217bhp direct injection Turbo petrol unit is much better if petrol
is your preferred fuel and because maximum torque of 258lb ft is delivered
from 2,000 it is a responsive performer. Forget the 256bhp 2.8-litre V6 Turbo
engine: it's really not needed. For the record, the Sports Tourer will bring
with it two further powertrains: a 1.6-litre, 178bhp Turbo petrol and a new
2.0 CDTi BiTurbo with a maximum output of 187bhp.
An ecoFLEX version with lower C02 emissions but with no performance compromise
will join the line-up later next year. All powertrains come with either
a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. And both of the Insignia's
turbocharged petrol engines are available with the latest-generation advanced
all-wheel-drive system. This system will also be available on future, more powerful
All Insignia models come with high levels of equipment as standard, including
ESP, passenger airbag deactivation, automatic headlights, electric driver's
seat height adjuster and electrically-adjustable four-way lumbar support. Cruise
control is also standard across the range, along with front, side and curtain
airbags, Isofix on all three rear seats and, of course, ABS.
'High-tech' options for Insignia models include FlexRide (which allows the driver
to choose the suspension settings), Adaptive 4x4, Intelligent Adaptive Forward
Lighting (which adjusts the headlights to the prevailing road and light conditions)
and Vauxhall's Front Camera System which reads speed warning and No Overtaking
signs and relays the information back to the driver. This system also includes
a lane departure alert function.
The FlexRide system is not really necessary because the standard suspension
smoothes out the bumps, potholes and ridges in the road just fine and provides
a comfortable and relaxed ride. The steering feels pretty lifeless and gives
little feedback; but it is precise, as it needs to be for such a large and substantial
car. Sticking with the standard-sized alloy road wheels and not going for ultra-low
profile tyres keeps road noise intrusion down to a very low level.
With undeniable good looks, a move up in quality and class, a comfortable ride
and a wide choice of mostly well-priced models (from £15,935 on-the-road to
£30,285, with heartland prices coming in at under £20,000) the Insignia scores
well. Not quite so impressive is the poor rear headroom, restricted rear window
visibility and lacklustre steering. However, the Insignia is nevertheless a
significant step forward for Vauxhall both in looks, quality and desirability
although it still loses out to the new Ford Mondeo for interior space and driving
refinement. David Miles
Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi Exclusiv 5-door | £16,935
Maximum speed: 126mph | 0-60mph: 10.7 seconds
Overall test MPG: 38.8mpg | Power: 128bhp | Torque: 221lb ft
CO2 154g/km | VED Band D £145 | Insurance group 8