A Grand de­sign

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Keenan

IN an era where SUVs and crossovers are all-con­quer­ing, the demise of the tra­di­tional fam­ily hatch­back and sa­loon has been widely touted.

Well, step for­ward the In­signia Grand Sport which rep­re­sents some­thing of a fight­back as – with a high­ly­compet­i­tive price tag of £21,670 – it of­fers re­mark­able lev­els of com­fort, equip­ment, prac­ti­cal­ity and style.

It is a pack­age Vaux­hall hopes will give a qual­ity, at­trac­tively-priced al­ter­na­tive to the likes of the BMW 3 Se­ries and the Audi A4 as well as con­tin­u­ing to take on tra­di­tional ri­vals like the Ford Mon­deo and those pesky crossovers.

The In­signia Grand Sport is not short of hi-tech kit as sat nav, air con and DAB ra­dio – ac­cessed through a colour touch­screen – are just for starters.

The main course in­cludes cruise con­trol, smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity and key­less entry and ig­ni­tion, while a de­li­cious dessert sees a wi-fi in­ter­net con­nec­tion and Vaux­hall’s OnS­tar concierge ser­vice com­plete the tasty menu for the SRi Nav model.

With fleet buy­ers key for the lat­est In­signia, it is clear Vaux­hall have made it a pri­or­ity to cater for com­pany sales reps plough­ing up and down the motorway.

The 1.6-litre, 108bhp diesel is a punchy, yet fru­gal mo­tor with a claimed com­bined town and motorway fuel econ­omy fig­ure of 70.6mpg and com­pany car tax-re­duc­ing emis­sions of 105g/km.

There is also a 134bhp ver­sion as well as a two-litre oil burner pro­duc­ing an out­put of 168bhp, plus three petrol en­gines.

The In­signia Grand Sport sits on an new plat­form, which has al­lowed the car to ex­pand com­pared to the pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tion. This, com­bined with a longer wheel­base, gives ex­tra legroom for rear-seat pas­sen­gers.

The swoop­ing roofline means head­room isn’t quite as good, but it does give the ex­te­rior a sleek look and com­bines nicely with new de­sign fea­tures such as a large grille on the front, natty day­time running lights and sculpted doors at the sides. The un­der­stated yet el­e­gant look con­tin­ues with the long bon­net and neat spoiler on the boot lid.

The in­te­rior de­sign is ob­vi­ously in­spired by the cur­rent-gen­er­a­tion As­tra as many el­e­ments are sim­i­lar – in­clud­ing the steer­ing wheel and media con­trols. Ma­te­rial qual­ity is good, and the fit and fin­ish are ex­cel­lent.

Once on the move, the ride is smooth in town with most humps and hol­lows well ab­sorbed by the ef­fi­cient sus­pen­sion set-up.

The In­signia Grand Sport is a re­fined beast with en­gine and wind noise ef­fec­tively ex­cluded from the cabin – even at motorway speeds.

Take on a wind­ing coun­try lane and it shows a marked will­ing­ness to have fun with good lev­els of grip and weighty steer­ing giv­ing the driver plenty of con­fi­dence. For what is quite a big car the lat­est In­signia is nim­ble and com­posed.

It is easy to get com­fort­able be­hind the mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel and, de­spite the fact you sit fairly low, vis­i­bil­ity is good and park­ing sen­sors make the car easy to slot into city cen­tre spa­ces.

The boot of­fers plenty of room with 490 litres of space avail­able with the seats up.

Since the first In­signia was launched in the UK ten years ago it has sold well and the lat­est Grand Sport ver­sion has ev­ery chance of prov­ing just as pop­u­lar.

TEST DRIVE VAUXALL IN­SIGNIA GRAND SPORT

Model: Vaux­hall In­signia Grand Sport SRi Nav 1.6 Turbo D Price: £21,670 Me­chan­i­cal: 108bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel en­gine driv­ing front wheels via 6-speed man­ual gear­box Max speed: 127mph 0-60mph: 10.9 sec­onds Com­bined mpg: 70.6 In­sur­ance group: 14 CO2 emis­sions: 105g/km BiK rat­ing: 23% War­ranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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