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Vauxhall Insignia
7/10

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Road Test

Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTI SRi Auto

Driven December 2008

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We know the Insignia is good. And after the dowdy Vectra, it absolutely had to be. But when the hype of its arrival dies down, option boxes will have to be ticked, fleet contracts exchanged and cheques cashed. It’s a volume- seller, the Insignia, in one of the fiercest markets out there.

And the most important model will be the 2.0-litre diesel we’ve driven here. The list of model variants looks like an impenetrable matrix, with the big sellers sandwiched by the small 1.8-litre 16v and beefy 2.8 V6 4x4 petrols. But it’s this 2.0-litre diesel that’ll find its way under most Insignia bonnets.

This one’s in 157bhp guise, which is only £250 more than the 128bhp and worth the extra few quid. Our car had an auto ’box too, which adds another £1,350 and bumps you up into the next CO2 band.

It’s a good engine, this. Quiet, torquey and sufficiently rapid. So it’ll ferry a rep around without fuss or drama, and net him nearly 50mpg if he’s careful. Power is delivered smoothly and quietly.

But Mr Rep will still enjoy getting busy with the throttle. Yes, it feels solid on a motorway, but it’s also entertaining over a fun road. Unlike the Vectra, there’s nothing squidgy about it, and you just know it’s been built by people who like a twisty stretch of tarmac.

You can add Vauxhall’s Flexride to your Insignia too. It’s got three settings: Normal, Sport and Tour. Sport is obviously the most interesting, because it makes the dials glow a moody red. It firms up the damping too, helping to keep things controlled, even over gnarly cambers.

If you don’t fancy that, there’s the SRi package that was fitted to our test car, which confusingly, you can still spec with Flexride. It rides lower and is a touch firmer than standard, but suffers from tyre roar, thanks to ridiculously big 19-inch alloys. So if you do loads of motorway miles, you’re better off avoiding it.

There’s plenty to like on the inside too. The sweeping dash echoes the exterior design, and all the touch-points are satisfying to poke, prod or squeeze. Not a cheap plasticky thing in sight, either.

But, and this is a big one, is it asgood as a Ford Mondeo?

In diesel form (that’s where the battle lies), it’s certainly very close, and out there in the real world, you’ll struggle to separate them dynamically. Even if the Ford edges that comparison, the Vauxhall is the one that leaves you feeling more special. Yep, you read that right, a Vauxhall to make you feel special.

No wonder we gave it an award.

Dan Read

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