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First drive: Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. Image by Vauxhall.

First drive: Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport
The new Vauxhall Insignia looks great, but can it really take the fight to the premium brands?

 



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Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

The Vauxhall Insignia had enjoyed a fair degree of success since its arrival in 2008, but the time has come for that difficult second album follow-up. So keen is Vauxhall for people to know this is an all-new model that even the name has been changed to Insignia Grand Sport, although, curiously, it remains badged simply 'Insignia'.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport 2.0 Diesel Elite Nav
Pricing: 26,240 (as tested); range starts at 17,185
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat hatchback
CO2 emissions: 136g/km (Road tax 200 first year, then 140 per year thereafter)
Combined economy: 54.3mpg
Top speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 8.7 seconds
Power: 170hp at 3,750rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750- to 2,500rpm
Boot space: 490 litres (seats up); 1,450 litres (seats down)

What's this?

This is the all-new Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, and it looks very different to its predecessor. If the design wasn't different enough, Vauxhall felt the need to also add Grand Sport to the name, even though it remains badged just as an Insignia. Naming and marketing guff aside, this is one superb looking car and is a step change in design from the previous model.

Its new look is partly thanks to Vauxhall building it on its new 'E2' platform that allows for a stretch in wheelbase to boost interior cabin space. The car is now 29mm lower than before and 7mm wider, with a more sloped roofline adding to the more athletic image. Vauxhall has gone only with this five-door hatchback body style and the estate, which retains the Insignia Sports Tourer moniker.

How does it drive?

The first thing you notice when sitting in the new Insignia is how different the driving position feels. Drivers now sit 30mm lower than before and you notice it when dropping down into the seat. The dashboard is lower, too, while slimmer A-pillars mean drivers get a good view of the road ahead. The centre console remains a touch on the high side, though, which, when fitted with a manual gearbox, doesn't make for an ergonomically ideal driving position.

Nonetheless, Vauxhall has made strides in reducing the operating noise of its diesel engines (carried over from the outgoing model) and this, combined with more sound insulation, adds to the increased sense of quality. This 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel has moderate levels of performance, but it doesn't quite feel as if it's the new Insignia at its best. Cruising at motorway speeds shows off the flagship Vauxhall in a good light, with little in the way of wind noise and a relatively long sixth gear keeping engine speeds low. You will, however, occasionally find yourself having to drop a gear for faster overtakes, as there isn't quite the elasticity in the engine to simply roll on the power.

Driving in more urban environs and around town lets you make the most of the 2.0-litre engine's 400Nm of torque, but exposes the less impressive manual transmission. The gear shifter feels cheap in your hand and the throw across the gate, going from second to third, for example, is just a tad too long in our opinion. On the upside, the clutch isn't too heavy and there is enough feel and travel through the brake pedal to allow for decent modulation in traffic.

Over a variety of different surfaces, we found the standard suspension set up to be very compliant, but providing just enough firmness to make the Insignia feel composed at speed. We also drove a car with the adaptive FlexRide system, which offers Sport and Tour driving modes. The former adds a little more of a weighted feel to the steering by reducing assistance, while sharpening the throttle response. It firms up the suspension too, and while all this does add a noticeably sporty impression, it didn't have any additional benefit to how the car performed. Choosing the Tour mode does soften things off and, on the right roads, it allows the Insignia to cruise along quite comfortably. The downside to this setting is that we experienced the ride to become too soft and bouncy over less consistent surfaces.

Verdict

Vauxhall has raised its game with the new Insignia Grand Sport, but it stops short of being more impressive thanks to the engine and transmission, as they don't feel as modern or slick as the offerings from its rivals. The upside is the Grand Sport's exterior and interior styling is among the very best in the segment and helps give the Insignia a greater level of kerbside desirability that never quite existed with its predecessor.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

3 3 3 3 3 Powertrain


Dave Humphreys - 26 Apr 2017









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2017 Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. Image by Vauxhall.

2017 Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. Image by Vauxhall.








 

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