A wide range of petrol and diesel engines are available from launch with the cheapest option being a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol with either 138bhp or 163bhp. We’ve tried the high-powered option, finding it flexible from low rpm and fairly fuel-efficient. Given the small price, emissions and economy penalty over the lesser version, we’d say it’s worth considering if you don’t do a high mileage.
The other petrol engine is a 2.0-litre turbo with 256bhp that comes exclusively with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. We’d avoid this as it has high running costs and is only available in Elite Nav trim, pushing up the price. We suspect the higher-powered diesels will feel just as brisk in the real world, too.
Speaking of diesels, there are three of those available: a 1.6-litre unit with 108bhp or 134bhp or a 2.0-litre engine with 168bhp. The lesser 1.6 is surprisingly willing and is by far the cheapest engine to run. That said, those who regularly have a full car would be better off with the more potent 1.6, that will more than likely make up the bulk of Insignia sales. It’s no hot-rod, but it pulls heartily in most gears. As for the 2.0-litre diesel, we’ve yet to try that.
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport ride comfort
So far we’ve only experienced the Insignia Grand Sport on standard suspension and relatively small 17in wheels. On smooth roads with gentle crests and compressions, it has a relaxed, floaty gait that should please both you and your passengers. Throw in some craggy surfaces and the Insignia starts fidgeting noticeably and delivers the occasional thump over the sharpest obstacles, but similar is true of its competition, including both the Superb and the Mondeo. You can tick a box to option adaptive dampers, but as yet we haven’t tried this set-up so we can’t pronounce its worth. One thing’s almost certain, though: choosing bigger wheels is likely to make the ride worse.
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport handling
Unlike the previous generation Insignia, which had a reputation for being a bit stodgy in the bends, this current model is a real step forwards. For a start the steering wheel no longer simply moves the car left or right, but feels hefty and accurate enough at speed to give you the confidence and ability to place the car accurately – exactly what’s requires to make driving less taxing.
We haven’t tried the optional adaptive dampers yet, but on the standard passive suspension there is some body lean when you enter a corner quickly, but no more so than in a Superb or a Mondeo. Once settled mid-bend, you’ll find plenty of grip, which importantly is spread evenly between the front and rear wheels, making the Insignia feel reassuringly surefooted and balanced.
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport refinement
There may be new engines available elsewhere in the current Insignia range, but the 1.6-litre diesel that was always pretty raucous in the old model is carried over. This set alarm bells ringing, but we needn’t have worried. Although you can tell it’s a diesel from the outside the motor is reasonably hushed from behind the wheel, although you do feel some tell-tail vibrations filtering through the pedals at certain revs. On the motorway, which is the natural habitat of most Insignias, any diesel thrum fades softly and pleasingly into the background. The 1.5-litre petrol is even quieter with a more refined idle and fewer vibrations through the steering wheel.
At higher speeds there isn’t too much wind noise, but road noise can be quite intrusive over coarse surfaces. The gear change isn’t particularly satisfying either; it’s less pleasing than the Superb’s positive shift. The clutch’s bite is a tad vague, too. On the plus side, the solid, progressive brake pedal makes slowing down smoothly easy.
This little 1.5-litre turbo petrol is the cheapest engine but still promises reasonable pace. Even so, we’d be more tempted to pay a little extra for its more powerful brother if you want a cheap motor.
Effectively this is the same as the base engine but with a little more power. It’s flexible despite its small size and there’s only a small emissions, economy and price penalty. Just remember that a diesel will be much more economical if you’re doing lots of miles.
Only available in top Elite Nav spec, the 2.0-litre turbo petrol comes exclusively with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. We’ve not driven it yet, but we do know it’ll be expensive to buy and run.
1.6 Turbo D 110
We had worried that this little diesel might struggle in the Insignia, but it’s actually a flexible thing that is just about quick enough. It’s the cheapest to run but may struggle if you regularly have a full car.
1.6 Turbo D 136
Those who regularly have a car full of passengers and/or luggage should find this more potent 1.6 will do them proud. It’s no hot-rod admittedly, but pulls heartily in most gears from 1750rpm through to 4000rpm. It’s a little bit grumbly when you rev it hard, but CO2 emissions and claimed average fuel economy are pretty decent.
2.0 Turbo D 170
As the most powerful diesel, performance is brisk but emissions are disappointing when compared to similarly potent rivals. Unless you’re towing, we’d avoid.