The flagship saloon is bigger and definitely better
Big saloons may not be flavour of the year, but there’s still a market, as Vauxhall has demonstrated. It’s now doubling down on the new Insignia, with the executive saloon building on a timeline which goes back to 2008.
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport Tech Line 1.5 Nav
Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Kerbweight: 1500kg est
Top speed: 138mph
Economy: 47.1mpg combined
CO2/tax band: 136g/km, 26%
The new styling looks more like a coupe, and jolly elegant it is too. The car has grown in wheelbase, body and luggage space, yet it’s significantly lighter, up to 175kg in some cases. With aerodynamics improved to go with that lower weight – 60kg from the body alone – that’s a very promising start for the Grand Sport.
The two petrol and two diesel engines between them offer six different power outputs. The car we tried had the more powerful of the 1.5-litre petrol engines, with 163bhp and 184lb ft of torque. Matched to a six-speed manual box, the engine delivers a surprisingly relaxed performance.
On the motorway at the speed limit you’re only turning over at about 2500rpm, and there’s ample torque to keep you rolling happily. There’s also still very decent acceleration at that speed should you need it, so this is a good car to cover some major miles. You can’t complain at the 47mpg either, since that gives you a range of over 450 miles thanks to a big fuel tank.
The longer wheelbase and wider track make the car very planted and stable on the road. The suspension seems tuned to focus on that same area of relaxed mile-covering. The Grand Sport stays fairly flat in the corners yet the ride quality is comfortable and forgiving. Steering isn’t great but with the smaller wheels it seemed entirely fine and larger wheels would probably add to road noise while doing nothing for the ride quality.
So this is a good cruiser, perhaps a touch of a GT about it, but we’re not convinced by the Grand Sport title, which seems a bit of a misnomer. This isn’t a sporting car, but it is a great car for the real world and the real roads.
The cabin enhances this feeling of wellbeing and relaxation with a design which is neat, free of niggly details and big on space, comfort and, it must be noted, a higher sense of quality than before.
The previous Insignia was a pretty good car, but this is a better one in so many areas, from perceived quality to handling to refinement and looks. Since there are some price drops as well to bring it in like with BIK tax, it’s hard not to see this as a thoroughly convincing upgrade on all fronts. Hoist the Insignia with pride.