From the moment you clasp eyes on the all-new Insignia, it’s clear that Vauxhall has made a concerted effort to move the car upmarket – something it has attempted to emphasise by adding the ‘Grand Sport’ moniker.
We were always a fan of the underrated Insignia’s exterior and the new car retains its position as one of the best looking in its class. The coupe-swooping roofline is even lower, while styling cues suggest a wider, athletic stance.
Vauxhall has upsized the Insignia Grand Sport, pushing it closer to the Fleet News Award-winning Superb, by extending the length 55mm to almost five metres and wheelbase by 92mm. This greatly improves the space for occupants, especially in the rear.
However, boot space has been sacrificed – 490 litres is actually 40 down on the Insignia. Those requiring more luggage room will need to wait for the Insignia Sports Tourer, due in late summer.
The premium cues continue as you approach the car. The door handles have a high quality feel and a smooth, refined action. Step inside, grasp the leather-wrapped arm rest and pull the door to with a satisfying thunk. It’s a promising start.
It gets even better with the seats, which have been certified by the Campaign for Healthy Backs: they are supportive with multiple movements to find the ideal driving position and have the best lumbar support we’ve encountered. Perfect for the Insignia’s starring role as a high mileage company car cruiser (fleets will account for around 80% of registrations).
The interior on our test model – the high-spec Tech Line which is popular with fleets – is a mix of leather and soft-touch materials accented by smart metallic detailing.
Most of the interaction takes place on the eight-inch touchscreen, complemented by a handful of flush-flat buttons for the more regular tasks, such as air-con, windscreen heater and a ‘home’ button for instant access to the menu page. Stereo volume, trip computer and cruise control sit on the steering wheel.
Infotainment and connectivity are class-leading thanks to the latest generation Vauxhall OnStar (Wi-Fi, SOS crash response and stolen vehicle assistance) and Intelli-Link, which incorporates Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and speech recognition.
So far, so good. But there are disappointments. The temperature control switches protrude incongruously from the otherwise refined centre console while the electronic parking brake is reluctant to release automatically as you move away (and doesn’t apply automatically when you switch off the ignition). This could, however, simply be an early-production model flaw.
The biggest criticism – certainly on paper – is the engines: the most efficient model is the 1.6 110PS turbo diesel with CO2 emissions of 105g/km (70.6mpg). It’s just 4g/km lower than the outgoing model, even with the use of lightweight materials which have helped cut the weight by up to 175kg.
Compare that to rivals such as the Mondeo (94g/km), Škoda Superb (96g/km) and Volkswagen Passat (95g/km), which comfortably dip beneath 100g/km.
Has Vauxhall missed a trick? Not according to Vauxhall fleet sales director James Taylor. He told Fleet News that the last Insignia was set up to perform well on the NEDC test, but this car was set up for the new WLTP tests which are introduced in September.
“My feeling is that the Insignia will look very good when all cars are on this testing in 2018,” Taylor said.
Our Tech Line test car is the 136PS 1.6-litre diesel – CO2 of 114g/km, combined fuel efficiency of 65.7mpg – which feels a little under-powered but is comfortably hitting a decent real-world 58mpg on longer journeys and mid-50s on a stop-start morning commute.
Noise levels are low, particularly at motorway speeds and, with pricing from £21,580, Vauxhall believes it will be a popular choice for fleets, although demand will also be high for the 110PS and the SRi and Design trims.
New safety kit includes rear cross-traffic alert to help when reversing, lane keep assist with departure warning and adaptive cruise control
Vauxhall has reduced like-for-like prices by up to £2,500. This is part of its strategy of offering best-in-class wholelife costs and should help to reduce discounting and, therefore, improve residual values.
Running cost data is shown for 1.6CDTi ecoTEC 136 Tech Line Nav model.