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 and found it fairly fuel-efficient and flexible from low in the rev range. Given its small price, emissions and fuel economy penalty over the 138bhp version, we’d say the 163bhp version worth considering.
The other petrol engine is a 256bhp 2.0-litre turbo that comes exclusively with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. It’s undoubtedly fast (0-60mph takes just 6.9sec), but is only available with top-level GSI Nav trim. It’s pricey to buy and comparatively 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 of the range to run. That said, those who regularly carry heavy loads would be better off with the more potent 1.6.
The 168bhp 2.0 diesel delivers its power with much less effort than the 2.0 petrol and isn’t 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.
Remarkably, the 207bhp version barely feels any quicker, and the fact that it is one of the least economical 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 can’t possibly recommend it.
Vauxhall Insignia hatchback ride
When equipped 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. However, 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 if ride comfort is important.
Vauxhall Insignia hatchback handling
Despite having shed quite a lot of weight compared to 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 moment’s hesitation as the body leans over and only when it has settled does the car show eagerness to change direction. There is plenty of grip and balance, though, so you can carry speed with confidence.
The adaptive dampers sharpen things in their stiffer modes, allowing the car to change direction more keenly. This is even more the case with the sporty GSI Nav trim, which has lowered suspension with bespoke adaptive dampers that work together to keep body lean very well checked through corners. Its upgraded Brembo brakes are also meaty and reassuring, adding to your confidence.
Vauxhall Insignia hatchback refinement
Although they can be identified as diesels from outside, the 1.6 and 2.0 engines are impressively hushed from behind the wheel. At idle and under acceleration, you’ll hear some clatter and feel a few vibrations through the controls, but things are generally peaceful. Slot the relatively slick six-speed gearbox into top gear on the motorway and you’ll 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. It builds up to become a constant and irritating drone at motorway speeds and particularly on coarse surfaces, that makes it hard to relax. It gets worse if you add bigger wheels, to the point that the background noise on 20in wheels is quite unacceptable in a car designed for motorway jaunts.