Over the last three months our Insignia Grand Sport has hauled families, soaked up motorway slogs and spent what felt like a lifetime stuck in Edinburghâ€™s horrific traffic. In all that time itâ€™s performed admirably but without ever really getting under our skin. Itâ€™s comfortable and capable but lacks the spark that makes some long-termers stick in the mind.
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport SRI Nav
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, diesel
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 131mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
CO2 emissions: 114g/km
Thatâ€™s not necessarily the end of the world. The Insignia is a car aimed at a particular market where costs and comfort rank higher than fancy styling or dramatic on-road abilities.
Nonetheless, the latest Grand Sport has sharpened the looks of the big Vauxhall up a lot and what looked great on the stand at last yearâ€™s Geneva Motor Show maintains a sharp, identifiable profile out on the packed roads. The more angular approach from front to back give a far more assertive look than the old Insignia and allows it to hold its own in the car park face-off.
The driving experience, on the other hand isnâ€™t one of the Vauxhallâ€™s strongest suits. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with it â€“ itâ€™s stable and predictable â€“ but itâ€™s still a long way off from the driver involvement offered by perennial rival the Ford Mondeo. Our carâ€™s drive mode select did have a noticeable effect but even in sport mode it wasnâ€™t much to write home about and the car spent most of its time with us in boring old standard mode.
Frankly, though, the lack of engagement was more than made up for in frugality. Over several thousand miles covering everything from short school runs to cross-country slogs, the 1.6-litre diesel returned a healthy 53mpg. That didnâ€™t come at the expense of performance, either. A 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds isnâ€™t spectacular but the 134bhp engine never felt like it was struggling and never intruded excessively in terms of noise or vibration.
Just as persuasive as the economy is the overall value for money. Our mid-range test car came with a fair few optional extras but still cost less than Â£27,000. For that it packed in a selection of features usually found only on cars costing far more â€“ the likes of adaptive matrix headlights, head-up display, internet access and the excellent, efficient OnStar service.
The interior isnâ€™t going to win any awards for design or material quality but thereâ€™s nothing wrong with it given the price point itâ€™s operating at. Thereâ€™s decent space, too, for four but head and shoulder room are tight for tall rear-seat passengers.
The Insignia is definitely a car for the head rather than the heart. It doesnâ€™t excite or scream desirability but it does pack huge levels of the latest equipment into a well-priced, decent looking, fuel-efficient package and compared with a lot of rivals offers massive value for money.