Vauxhall's Insignia has taken a step up-market in MK2 model Grand Sport guise. It's putting it on a par with the best medium executive car.
The second-generation Vauxhall Insignia gains 'Grand Sport' badging in five-door hatch form, along with smarter looks, a classier cabin, hi-tech features and an efficient engine range. If, like many business buyers, you're browsing in the £20,000 to £30,000 best medium executive car bracket, it's a car you really can't afford to overlook.
On the move, the Vauxhall Insignia feels like the bigger car it's now become, the suspension floating you over broken surfaces that would have troubled and impeded the previous model. Importantly, this second-generation model is 175kg lighter than its predecessor and that really shows when cornering at speed, where there's less body roll than before and generally, a much higher level of agility. As for engines, well most buyers will continue to want a diesel, with the majority of sales likely to go to the 1.6-litre Turbo D unit we tried, offered with either 110 or 136PS. If you trade up to the 170PS 2.0-litre diesel, efficiency drops off markedly, though there's the compensation of 400Nm of pulling power, a figure that will be improved further if you go for the 210PS biturbo variant. Engine-wise, you'll find much more that's really different if you turn your attention to petrol power, with both units on offer being completely new. Small capacity turbocharged engines that use unleaded are very much in vogue at present and the 1.5-litre unit supplied here should suit that best medium executive car trend, offered with either 140 or 165PS.
Further up the range sits a potent 260PS 2.0-litre petrol Turbo model that showcases both of what are arguably the two most significant engineering developments introduced with this second-generation Insignia. One is the super-slick 8-speed auto gearbox that's optional on lesser models. The other is a sophisticated new intelligent all-wheel drive system that uses a state-of-the-art rear torque vectoring system for greater cornering traction and sharper turn-in.
Vauxhall reckons that this Insignia Grand Sport has 'the aura of a car from the premium, upper class'; in the best medium executive car stakes? We'll let you decide. It certainly looks a great deal smarter than its predecessor. The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport comes only in hatch form, but as an alternative, there's the option of a 'Sports Tourer' estate. The prominent grille and slim-line headlamps enhance the wide horizontal design of the front end and provide it with a bold appearance. The grille sits lower than on the outgoing model and further emphasises its solid stance. What Vauxhall calls a 'sweepspear' feature starts in the front door and gives the impression that this model is always ready to pounce, which is a nod to the athletic lightness of the Monza Concept car that inspired it.
More importantly, under the skin, this design has shed up to 175kgs over its predecessor. Its roof is 29mm lower and its track has increased by 11mm. The overhangs have been reduced considerably and the wheelbase enlarged by 92mm. And the exemplary drag factor of 0.26 makes this car one of the most aerodynamic vehicles in the best medium executive car class. The cabin has also taken a step up-market. The driver sits lower and is surrounded by clean lines, pleasant surfaces and impressive build quality, a highlight being the frameless touchscreen of the improved IntelliLink infotainment system. The extended wheelbase gives passengers in the rear more space. There's a roomy 490-litre boot too.
Can this second-generation Insignia really appeal in best medium executive car segment? Will business users used to signing up for yet another BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class really be minded to consider it? The Griffin brand hopes so. What we can tell you from this first look is that if this car carried a premium German badge, those customers would buy into it being part and parcel of the best medium executive car without question. The quality and technology is that good.
But of course, it does bear a Vauxhall badge - which requires in turn a degree of open-mindedness on the part of potential drivers. That's asking a lot but it's difficult to see what else the brand could have done in pursuit of its objectives here. If you're looking in the best medium executive car sector and are amongst the few people untroubled by badge equity, you'll find plenty to like.Click here to find out more about our Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport range