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The Top Gear car review:Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport
For:Leap in refinement and cabin quality, should be good value to own
Against:Struggling to remember what it’s like to drive
What is it?
The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is the replacement for Vauxhall’s player in the small family saloon game, the Insignia. Though, along with its bigger new name, this isn’t really a small saloon. It’s sized with the Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5 Series in mind, because Vauxhall sees the premium brands eating into its territory and has decided to quite literally pick on someone its own size. Which is why the Grand Sport has swelled by 55mm in overall length and a whopping 92mm in wheelbase. The Skoda Superb’s ‘hugeness’ USP has been kicked into next week. This is a massive car now.
While the Insignia Grand Sport’s segment-busting size is unconventional, the rest of this car isn’t taxing to get your head around. You can have three petrol and four diesel engines, and depending on how much you’re spending, either a six-speed manual, a six-speed auto, or eight-speed automatic gearbox. There is all-wheel drive in top-spec cars. There’s no VXR performance version, but you can get one with torque-vectoring to trim your cornering. You can have an estate, badged as a Sport Tourer, and soon there’ll be a more rufty-tufty Country Tourer version, as per the Audi Allroad series. No saloon, mind you – only a five-door hatch with saloon-like tail features.
Vauxhall admits one of the lingering criticisms of the old Insignia was pinched rear space, but because it’s under pressure from the likes of the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, it wanted a swooping roofline for this new Insignia Grand Sport. These are not goals that sit well together. Nevertheless, Vauxhall’s had its cake and eaten it by stretching the cabin and tapering the roofline too, so although it’s not as spacious in the back as a Skoda Superb, it’s a substantial improvement on the old car and you’ll never notice the 10 litres of boot space that had to be sacrificed in the process. Plus, as we’ve said, it looks sleeker and more imposing.
Inside, the Insignia has undergone the same successful update as the latest Astra. Instead of a button for every possible function plsu several you never even needed, there’s a reasonably snappy touchscreen for navigation, radio, media and car set-up functions, a bijou climate control bank of switches, and that’s it. The instrument dials have sprouted screens to cram in more info, (even a battery voltmeter, weirdly) and you can spec a pin-sharp head-up display. Yup, it’s all an effort to come across more premium, because in 2017, Vauxhall has a tougher job fighting off Audi A4s and BMW 3 Series’ than it does tackling Ford Mondeos. Isn’t life unfair?