Some slips are showing in the low-end diesel Insignia saloon, but space, pace, comfort and kit are useful compensations
If value for money floats your motoring boat, this near-to-entry-level Insignia Grand Sport diesel saloon delivers it. On top of an official combined mpg figure beginning with a 7, the 1.6 Turbo D 110 will cost you less than an equivalent basic diesel Golf – which is a car from the class below the Insignia.
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport 1.6 Turbo D 110
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 127mph
CO2/tax band: 105g/km, 23%
The ground-up redesign and re-engineering of Vauxhall’s Mondeo rival has been accompanied by a similarly radical rethink on pricing. The old 2008 Insignia lost a lot of sales to the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. To try and reverse that, the crisply restyled Grand Sport will be exiting UK showrooms next month for prices beginning at £17,115. In Design Nav spec, our 108bhp test car will cost £19,280. To put that into perspective, a similar equipment package on the one-class-smaller Octavia 1.6 TDI SE generates an invoice for more than £22,000.
A good start for the all-new second-generation Insignia, then. And there’s more good news too.
Besides new suspension and a range of new and updated engines, the Mk 2 is a bit larger than the old model, a lot roomier inside, and on average 175kg lighter.
Higher-spec Grand Sports will offer tech like asymmetrical four-wheel drive, FlexRide adaptive damping, an eight-speed automatic gearbox, active LED headlights, wireless smartphone charging and a head-up display. Even in the humble Turbo D, however, you’ll enjoy the luxury of an eight-inch colour infotainment system with sat-nav, Vauxhall’s OnStar concierge service, onboard 4G wi-fi, keyless entry and cutting-edge electronic safety aids. Not bad for under £20,000. Entry-level Design-trim cars have 17-inch steel wheels but the snazzy trims do a good job of pretending to be alloys.
In the flesh, the new car is a lot better looking than the previous model, thanks to well-judged detailing and a graceful roofline that doesn’t over-compromise on headroom even for tall back-seat passengers. The extra back-seat space that comes from the new car’s longer wheelbase might have some compact executive saloon owners wishing they’d moved up a class, although it does need to be said that there’s a 40-litre reduction in boot space to 490 litres. The boot’s shallow profile is belied by a real ability to accommodate big stuff like baby buggies.
Interestingly, the 1.6-litre diesel engine is actually a little quieter than the more expensive model’s 2.0-litre unit, and its 108bhp turn out to be ample for easy driving, with torque coming in well from low rpm and only fading above 3,500rpm. The decent six-speed manual gearbox takes the grief out of making steady progress.
Chassis wise, the Insignia Grand Sport fits the usual big saloon template by offering plush and loping rather than taut and agile. Stronger damping would put a nicer seal on sharp-edged ridges, but generally speaking the standard passive suspension and 17-inch wheels deliver an easygoing compliance. Some of its rivals handle more sweetly, though.
There’s nothing special about the new Insignia, and that lack of charisma could obstruct Vauxhall’s plan to move it upmarket, but it’s a good-looking, well equipped and practical car – and a very cheap one at this end of the range.
The pared-down pricing becomes a little more understandable when you notice some of the hard and/or thin plastics around the transmission tunnel and steering column and on the lower door panels, but for private or business buyers who are more interested in the bottom line than in aspirational issues, it’s got a lot of merit.