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Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTI (2008) CAR review and video

Published:01 October 2008

Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTI (2008) CAR review and video
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Contributing editor, architect, sentence constructor, amuse bouche

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Contributing editor, architect, sentence constructor, amuse bouche

London motor show video

The segment in which Vauxhall’s new Insignia must compete may be shrinking, but it still constitutes a handsome ten percent of the total market. Clearly, GM sees this as justification to throw the kitchen sink at the Insignia, equipping it with a raft of new toys that will simply never see the light of day in cooking versions set to mither the length and breadth of the UK motorway network near you.

So, amongst the list of goodies not appearing on carpet tile salesman Reg Snozzer’s new repmobile soon are Saab’s adaptive 4x4 system, fitted as standard to all 2.8-litre V6 models, FlexRide, a ‘mechatronic’ chassis control system with Standard, Tour and Sport settings, an electronic limited slip differential, adaptive headlamps offering no less than nine different beam characteristics, and a camera which can read speed limit signs and operate a lane departure system.

But what about the basic package of the Vauxhall Insignia?

Despite having a wheelbase some 110mm shorter than that of the Mondeo, the Insignia is of similar length. Most of this is down to a rather prominent probiscus, the result of ever more stringent pedestrian impact legislation. From a distance, there’s more than a little Mercedes about the new grille, an undoubtedly deliberate conceit.

In profile the Insignia is handsome indeed, blacked out B-pillar and a vigorously tapering glasshouse awarding it strong, coupe styling credentials. The story at the back is less successful. Most of what you see has been done in the name of aerodynamics, doesn’t quite seem to gel with the clean homogeny of the rest of the car, and makes the Insignia look rather too tall and narrow from dead astern.

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Vauxall Insignia first drive

Scroll down the page to the embedded player below to view Vauxhall's uneditted video footage of the Insignia    

London motor show video

What about inside?

On board there’s plenty to give Mondeo man pause for thought. With an artful step at the windscreen base, the dashboard design cunningly contrives to reduce the overall perception of mass invariably elicited by ever increasing bonnet heights. The svelte centre console kicks sand in the face of the Mondeo’s gently bling effort, the centre stack of crisp, well-ordered buttons being raised to float above their surroundings with an elegant hint of overlap.

Excessive steering reach and rake adjustment gang up with similar seat flexibility to give even the most hastily constructed a fine driving position, the only real negative being lever adjustment to the seat back rather than the greater finesse of the Big Turny Knob.

Best of all, you get proceedings under way with an old fashioned key in the slot rather than a silly start button, and – Hallelujah – Vauxhall have done away with its odious electronic indicator stalk and replaced it with something of such classic vintage that you approach junctions to the accompaniment of what sounds like a large cuckoo clock marking time behind the dashboard.

Rear seat accommodation is, however, less satisfactory. Though a claimed gain of some 40mm over the Vectra leaves just about adequate knee room for this sub-six footer to sit behind himself, headroom is unsatisfactorily limited, leaving me rubbing new and interesting profiles into the barnet courtesy of the roof lining, with a headrest that won’t actually adjust high enough for comfort or, I fear, safety. Fairly robust profiling of the two outer seats also calls into question the efficacy of the centre squab; hardy children only need apply.

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Vauxall Insignia first drive

Scroll down the page to the embedded player below to view Vauxhall's uneditted video footage of the Insignia    

London motor show video

So, strip away the toys, and what’s left in the engine room?

After a quick hoon with the 2.8-litre V6, which is smooth as a freshly buttered banister and quiet almost to the point of disappointment, this 128bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel barely cuts the mustard. A decent 221lb ft of torque should do the job, but this is clearly a somewhat heavy machine, and the claim of maximum torque between 1750 and 2500rpm never quite materializes, leaving you hunting power further up the rev range, where the engine gets over vocal and just a little crude.

Via a merely adequate quality of gearchange, a vast gap in ratios between 4th and 5th gear is clearly designed to optimize long-haul fuel consumption, but proves less satisfactory through the twisty bits, where an endless indecision between 3rd and 4th elicits a choice of too much noise or too little power. Though this unit will undoubtedly outsell its 158bhp sibling, the latter must constitute a better option.

And will it handle?

Well, dynamically, this is no Mondeo. Freed from electronic nannying, the one-size-fits-all suspension configuration makes a pretty decent fist of things. Ride comfort seems initially reasonably assured, but there’s more than a suggestion that the Insignia isn’t quite as planted as the Mondeo, hopping around gently on motorway surfaces when all should be smooth. Body control through the bends is pretty good, but more grip than handling is the order of the day; a perception unfortunately abetted by a lack of any real feel through a helm which lacks nothing for accuracy and everything for involvement.

Verdict

Much, much better than a Vectra, but nothing like as involving to drive as a Mondeo. Largely a handsome piece of work, particularly on board, the Insignia promises a tad more than it delivers. But I've got more time with other Insignias ahead of me, so perhaps it will win me over. Or drive me quietly insane…..

What do you think of the new Vauxhall Insignia? Click 'Add your comment' below and have your say

Scroll down the page to the embedded player below to view Vauxhall's uneditted video footage of the Insignia    

Specs

Price when new: £0
On sale in the UK:
Engine: 1956cc 4-cylinder turbodiesel, 128bhp @ 4000rpm, 221lb ft at 1750-2500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 11.1sec 0-62mph, 128mph, 48.7mpg, 154g/km
Weight / material: 1503kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4830/1856/1498

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  • Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTI (2008) CAR review and video
  • Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTI (2008) CAR review and video
  • Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTI (2008) CAR review and video
  • Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTI (2008) CAR review and video
  • Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTI (2008) CAR review and video
  • Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTI (2008) CAR review and video
  • Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTI (2008) CAR review and video
  • Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTI (2008) CAR review and video

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Contributing editor, architect, sentence constructor, amuse bouche

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