VAUXHALL INSIGNIA Hatchback performance
A wide range of petrol and diesel engines are available, the cheapest being a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol with either 138bhp or 163bhp. We’ve tried the higher-powered option, finding it flexible from low in the rev range and fairly fuel-efficient. Given the small price, emissions and fuel economy penalty over the 138bhp version, we’d say it’s worth considering, particularly if you don’t do many miles.
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 because, while it’s quick (0-60mph takes just 6.9sec), it’s available only in top-level GSI Nav trim, making it pricey to buy and expensive to run.
Moving on to the diesels, there are four available: a 1.6-litre with 108bhp or 134bhp, and a 2.0-litre with 168bhp or 207bhp. The less powerful 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.
The 2.0 diesel in 168bhp guise has a much more muscular mid-range than the 2.0 petrol and is not that much slower for outright pace. Ultimately, though, the additional cost means you should only consider it over the 1.6 if you’re planning on towing a caravan.
As for the 207bhp version, this feels barely any quicker. So the fact that it is one of the least efficient 2.0 diesels on sale – officially it averages 40.4mpg but will undoubtedly do less in the real world – and is only available in the decidedly expensive GSI Nav and Elite Nav models means we’d avoid it.
VAUXHALL INSIGNIA Hatchback ride
Fitted with the standard suspension and relatively small 17in wheels, we found the Insignia Gran Sport handles smooth roads with crests and compressions in a relaxed – if slightly floaty – way. But throw in some craggy surfaces and the ride quickly deteriorates, with the car fidgeting noticeably and thumping over sudden obstacles such as potholes.
Adaptive dampers are standard on the GSI Nav models and optional elsewhere in the range. Set in the softest Comfort mode, they offer greater pliancy over larger undulations, but the ride is still jittery over smaller imperfections, especially if you go for the biggest 20in wheels. In the stiffer Sport mode, the ride is just plain firm on UK roads.
Whichever suspension choice you make, try to stick to 17in or 18in wheels for the best comfort.
VAUXHALL INSIGNIA Hatchback handling
Despite having shed some weight over the previous-generation car, the Insignia Grand Sport still feels relatively heavy in bends. The steering is reasonably accurate but, as you turn in to a corner, there’s a discernable delay as the body leans over, and only when it has settled does the car feel happy to change direction. But there is plenty of grip and balance, so you can carry good speed with confidence.
The adaptive dampers sharpen things in their stiffer modes, allowing the car to change direction more keenly - even more so on the sporty GSI Nav trim with its lowered suspension comprising bespoke adaptive dampers and springs, which keep body lean very well checked through corners. Its upgraded Brembo brakes are also meaty and reassuring, imbuing you with confidence.
VAUXHALL INSIGNIA Hatchback refinement
Although you can identify them as diesels from outside, the 1.6 and 2.0 engines are impressively hushed from behind the wheel. At idle and under acceleration, you hear some clatter and feel a few vibrations through the controls, but by and large it’s pretty refined. Drop the relatively slick six-speed gearbox into top gear on the motorway and you can barely hear the engines at all.
So that’s the good news. Now for the bad: even with the smallest 17in wheels, road roar is surprisingly noticeable at all times. At motorway speeds, this becomes a constant and irritating drone that on coarse surfaces makes it hard to relax. This gets worse if you add bigger wheels, to the point that noise on 20in wheels is quite unacceptable in a car designed for motorway jaunts.