Volume manufacturers are fighting to protect market share from so-called ‘new generation’ rivals, so as I have just swapped into the Vauxhall Insignia from a Kia Optima, it offers a good opportunity for direct comparison.
The Kia wins hands down in terms of looks compared to the conservatively-styled Insignia, but when you sit inside, it is clear that is where Vauxhall has the edge. The Kia’s interior is practical but functional, and some of the plastics don’t stand up to scrutiny.
The German-built Insignia seems to have benefited from greater investment, sporting a sloping central console, topped by a colour screen and surrounded by a swooping arc of material that runs under the windscreen and joins the door panel inserts.
On the road, the firmer ride in the Vauxhall was disconcerting at first, as a smooth road in the Kia became a much more bumpy experience in the Insignia. The benefit is the Insignia’s much more capable cornering, which is flat and confidence-inspiring even when pushing hard.
You eventually get used to the increased feedback, especially as it is refined enough to handle even the worst of the increasing number of potholes I encounter on our disintegrating roads with a ‘thud’ rather than a ‘crash’.
Although I felt the Optima provided quiet cruising, I have to admit the Vauxhall is like a church inside at motorway speeds, making long treks a very relaxing experience, particularly when you factor in the presence of digital radio, which is still surprisingly rare in modern cars.
By John Maslen