Vauxhall does Grand job of boosting Insignia hatchback
Vauxhall has moved its trusty Insignia range upmarket with the all-new hatchback version dubbed Grand Sport. Motoring editor Andy Russell finds out if it lives up the promise.
Every morning when walking the dog I feel sorry for the driver of a new 17-plate Vauxhall Insignia hatchback.
Nothing wrong with the trusty old Insignia, a fine fleet and family favourite, but they took delivery of this particular car as Vauxhall launched the all-new Insignia Grand Sport - bigger, looks more athletic, feels more upmarket, roomier, 175kg lighter, drives better, more kit, features and technology, new engines, costs less to own than rivals and starts at nearly £1,500 less.
If it’s a private purchase I hope they got a very large discount or, if a company car, they can change it sooner rather than later.
Looks and image
With dynamic coupe looks, the Grand Sport is sleeker – a lower roof, wider track, longer wheelbase and clever styling make it appear longer, wider and lower than it really is.
It’s all part of Vauxhall’s quest to deliver what it calls an ‘upscale quality feel’. It works – it looks so exciting even at a distance that people are surprised it’s a Vauxhall.
Under the bonnet
Turbo diesels – 110 and 136PS 1.6-litre, particularly, and 170PS 2.0-litre – will be the fleet choices but, with more private motorists ditching derv, new 140 and 165PS 1.5-litre turbo petrols are enticing or, for serious performance, the 260PS 2.0-litre with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive.
In entry models, it’s worth paying £300 more for the 165PS petrol engine. Decent low-down flexibility means it can trickle along in high gears but it needs to be worked for brisk performance – not a chore with the short-throw six-speed gearshift – and still returned 40mpg.
How it drives
What is very noticeable is how well the new Insignia Grand Sport drives, no longer playing second fiddle to Ford’s Mondeo.
The cosseting ride has an extraordinary knack of soothing and smoothing all but the worst surfaces, especially riding on 17in wheels, but it also handles well with good grip, poise and steering feel. There’s some lean in corners but body control is now so much better.
Space and comfort
That longer wheelbase pays dividends in the cabin – average-sized adults have vast legroom and six-footers won’t feel cramped but that sloping roof limits headroom.
The well-trimmed cabin feels more upmarket at touch points, with hard plastics lower down, and high-mileage drivers will appreciate comfortable, supportive seats.
The 490-litre hatch boot has wide, low access but is quite shallow so not as spacious as some rivals but will hold a decent load of luggage.
Rear seat backs fold flat 60/40 with the boot floor – a more practical 40/20/40 set-up is optional – for a maximum 1,450-litre load bay.
At the wheel
All models get a WiFi hotspot for up to seven devices and updated OnStar personal assistant system to contact a dedicated call centre for booking hotels, restaurants or finding parking and downloading the destination to the sat-nav.
Pay £290 for the head-up display – worth it to keep your eyes on the road to display speed and limit, rev counter, traffic signs, sat-nav or audio.
It’s easy to get comfortable and the fascia looks good and works well with a touchscreen for many functions but separate, simple heating and ventilation controls.
The Insignia Grand Sport is a lot of car for the money, especially lower models. Even entry Design, for the price of a high-end supermini, gets air-con, cruise control, four electric windows, auto lights, keyless entry and ignition, seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with DAB, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and multi-function steering wheel.
Tech Line Nav, priced the same as sportier SRi, adds to Design spec alloy wheels, auto wipers, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, rear USB sockets, lumbar adjustment and sat-nav.
The all-new Grand Sport is an upmarket evolution of the Insignia – more grand than sport – with top-end models aiming to mix it with premium brands while realistic pricing makes it better value.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport Tech Line Nav 1.5 165PS Turbo £20,010 (range from £17,115)
Engine: 1,490cc, 165PS, four-cylinder turbo petrol with six-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 8.4 seconds; top speed 138mph
MPG: Urban 38.7; extra urban 54.3; combined 47.1
CO2 emissions: 136g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 26%
Insurance group: 17E (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,897mm; W 2,093mm; H 1,455mm