Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport: road test
It’s a good value car, though not the near-prestige model Vauxhall claims.
What is it?
Vauxhall’s reinvented Insignia, with lots of kit and a lower price, plus a claimed upgrade in quality aimed at making it a viable alternative to prestige rivals.
How safe is it?
It’s good. The previous model had a five-star rating, and although this new Insignia hasn’t been tested yet, it is expected to reach the same standard.
Who should buy one?
A family motorist who wants a roomy car with lots of standard equipment, or a business driver who needs solid performance for long motorway stints.
Road test by Sue Baker 24 May 2017
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
The Insignia Grand Sport can be had with either petrol or diesel engines, with power outputs ranging from 108bhp to 256bhp. Petrol buyers can opt for a 1.5-litre turbo in two states of tune, or the range-topping 2.0-litre turbo.
So why, when diesel has come in for such fierce criticism recently, are we driving the diesel version? Because Vauxhall reckons that four out of five buyers of this car will still choose diesel. It’s a sound choice, because this 1.6-litre engine makes the Insignia Grand Sport a solid performer. It has brisk acceleration and relaxed cruising at motorway pace. The 108bhp power output ensures that there is enough muscle to do the job of hauling a sizeable car (at almost five metres long) efficiently, and there is plenty of punch as you progress through the gears. For drivers wanting even stronger performance, there’s also a 134bhp version of the 1.6 and a 168bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel.
The entry-level diesel delivers its performance in a pretty civilised fashion. You’re aware that it’s a diesel from the slightly growly engine note, but the noise is well enough suppressed and it is generally a reasonably refined car. Wind noise is negligible and there is not much road rumble fed up through the suspension, so it shouldn’t be unduly fatiguing over a long distance.
Steering feel is good, nicely weighted and quite decently informative to keep you properly in touch with where the wheels are heading. The calibre of the handling feels as though it has been upgraded from the old Insignia, it’s a little more poised and precise. It makes the car enjoyably surefooted to drive. The suspension is absorbent enough to sop up the kind of minor undulations that seem so prevalent in many road surfaces these days, and it copes tolerably well with deeper potholes too. The overall impression is of a car that is engineered to deliver a fair degree of driver satisfaction while also decently cushioning any passengers.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
With an overall length of 4897mm and 1863mm wide, the Insignia Grand Sport is 26mm longer and 11mm wider than its arch rival the Ford Mondeo, but has a roofline 27mm lower. Inside it has a very roomy feel, with enough space for five six-footers to travel in fair comfort, although their heads are very close to the ceiling in the back. The redesigned cabin has seen an extra 32mm shoehorned into the back seats at hip height, 25mm of extra shoulder and knee room, and a whisker (8mm) of extra headroom.
The cabin is pretty well equipped with stowage spaces, including large door pockets that can house water bottles, and a good sized glovebox. The boot will accommodate up to 490 litres of luggage. That trumps the boots of upper-crust rivals like the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. Crucially, though, it is not as roomy as a Ford Mondeo’s boot, nor that of a Volkswagen Passat or Skoda Superb.
Vauxhall has upped the level of safety kit in the car compared with its predecessor. It comes with lane keep assistance and automatic emergency braking to meet tougher requirements for five Euro NCAP stars. Rear cross traffic alert and forward collision alert are also available. Higher spec models have a head-up display that projects the speed limit and other information in the driver’s line of sight.
Built-in Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming are available across the range, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay also offered. Vauxhall’s service assistant system, OnStar, is a notable asset, and this includes automatic crash response, as well as letting the car become a Wi-Fi hotspot. Also available is an automatic parking system that uses ultrasound sensors to guide the car into a slot.
Fuel economy is from 47.1 to 70.6mpg, and CO2 outputs from 133 to 105g/km. The 1.6 diesel we tested is the most economical model in the range. Prices start from £17,115 for a 1.5-litre petrol car, and top out at £26,455 for a 2.0-litre petrol with four-wheel-drive, the flagship model. Diesel versions start from £18,485. Whole life costs quoted by Vauxhall compare pretty favourably against rival models.
WE SAY It’s a good value car, though not the near-prestige model Vauxhall claims.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds
Economy: 70.6mpg combined
Tax: £140 first year, then £140 standard
Figures for Insignia Grand Sport 1.6 Turbo D 110PS Design Nav