The all-new Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is on sale in Britain now, but it won’t be in showrooms until next month. Our motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, drove the model at its UK media launch.
In the wake of the last generation Insignia, which won the European Car of the Year in 2009, and with nearly a quarter of a million sold in Britain to date, the 2017 Insignia Grand Sport is based on a totally new architecture. Its altered proportions result in a roomier cabin, giving the Vauxhall a sportier appearance and an enhanced road stance, including segment-leading aerodynamics.
As with the Vauxhall Astra, efficiency was fundamental for the engineers. Improved packaging and the use of lighter materials have helped slash the Insignia’s bulk by up to 175kg, enabling state-of-the-art features, such as the new eight-speed automatic gearbox, to use their strengths to the max. It is also the first Griffin-badged vehicle with an active aluminium bonnet, advancing pedestrian protection substantially.
There is a host of technologies that make owning the 2017 Insignia more comfortable and safer to drive. Lane Keep Assist, next generation IntelliLux LED matrix lighting, Head-up-Display, a heated windscreen and front and rear-seat heating are just some of the kit you’ll find in the 2017 Insignia Grand Sport.
Exceptional connectivity and infotainment are also aboard, thanks to Vauxhall’s IntelliLink systems and OnStar, which offers even more functionality for motorists. Latest OnStar features allow you to search for parking spots and even book hotel rooms.
Debuting with the 2017 Insignia line-up, and taking personalisation to the next echelon, Vauxhall Exclusive enables you to choose your Grand Sport in any colour you like. As well as selecting the shade, it also permits you to settle on one of three distinguishing paint finishes: tri-coat, metallic paint and pearl. Additionally, Vauxhall Exclusive offers added personalisation, consisting of a selection of wheels, leather options and decorative design elements only set aside for Exclusive customers.
“Vauxhall is raising its game even further with the launch of the new Insignia Grand Sport,” said Rory Harvey, Vauxhall’s Chairman and Managing Director. “It has all the virtues of its successful smaller brother the Astra, and takes those to a higher level. The Insignia Grand Sport will set new standards for design, efficiency, technology and connectivity when it arrives in showrooms this summer.”
So, what’s the new Insignia like ‘in the metal’, so to speak? Well, I checked it out thoroughly before driving it, and I can tell you it has a bundle of new design elements. The most prominent is the longer bonnet, which comes with a central crease. Other features include a boot spoiler, daytime running lights, and a bigger grille. It all adds up to an unpretentious appearance, albeit a superior one, compared with the departing Insignia.
Step inside the five-door family hatchback’s cabin and, straightaway, it’s a recognisable affair. If you’ve driven the present-day Astra, you’ll see that the instrumentation is almost identical, particularly around the steering wheel and touchscreen. The Insignia Grand Sport is nicely screwed together inside, although some scratchy plastics rain on the parade a little. The elongated wheelbase means the cabin is now massive. Legroom in the front is as impressive as ever before, but it’s the rear that blows you away. Sitting behind a six-foot driver make a six-footer in the back feel as small as a child. Believe me, I got in the Grand Sport’s rear seat and sat behind where I’d been driving moments earlier. You’d have to be a giant before your knees touched the back of the driver’s seat. What’s more, distinct from its competitors, the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport has three ISOFIX anchor points across its rear seats.
Vauxhall has achieved the excellent rear space, not just by extending the wheelbase, but by taking some space from the boot. This is not a concern because, if anything, the Insignia’s boot was disproportionately vast. What I’m saying is that the car’s loading bay could afford to lose some volume, and give it to the rear seats instead. Not that you would know; the Insignia Grand Sport’s load area still looks vast, with 490 litres of room for suitcases, buggies and shopping bags. The old Insignia’s boot has 530 litres, but fold the rear seats and the Grand Sport has a voluminous 1,450 litres.
Behind the wheel, the Luton-based automaker has made easy work of driving the 2017 Insignia. The touchscreen means fewer buttons litter the dashboard. What’s more, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, as well as Bluetooth, can be connected, giving the Insignia a more modern and refined feel.
The Grand Sport has a variety of engines driving it. These range from the good value 140ps 1.5-litre petrol turbo, to the top 260ps 2.0-litre petrol turbo 4×4 model. The car firm’s diesel powerplants incorporate a 110ps 1.6-litre turbo diesel, rising to a 170ps 2.0-litre unit.
I drove the Insignia Grand Sport in 140ps 1.5 petrol turbo guise, and found it to be a commendable handler, particularly around the lanes of Worcestershire and Wales where the car’s media drive took place. The hatchback flattens out tarmac bulges well, and turns in to cambers with precision. The most perceptible difference between the Insignia Grand Sport and the withdrawing model is how alert it now feels; it’s sprightlier and far less clumsy on S-bends. It is also composed, hushed and comfortable at motorway cruising speeds.
Fitted with the 1.5 powertrain and smooth-shifting manual six-speed ‘box, zero 62mph can be realised in 9.3 seconds. The maximum possible speed is 130mph. More significantly, the Grand Sport, in this semblance, returns 47.9mpg on average and CO2 emissions are low at 133g/km. The big Vauxhall feels a tad underpowered, though – specifically when attempting an overtake on B-roads. The steering wheel also feels too large still – a concern I had with the retiring Insignia, but these issues are not deal-breakers.
So, taken as a whole, the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is a car that will satisfy your hunger – if a large family hatch is what you want. Its comfort, looks, room and selection of engines will certainly please you and spoil you for choice. Costing from only £17,185 in basic DESIGN 140ps 1.5 Turbo ecoTEC configuration, the new Vauxhall is a car you should add to your shopping list. Why not contact Perrys to find out more?
Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Appearance √
- Room √
- Ride √
- Equipment √
- Oversized Steering Wheel X
Fast Facts (DESIGN 140ps 1.5 Turbo ecoTEC – as tested)
- Max speed: 130 mph
- 0-62 mph: 9.3 secs
- Combined mpg: 47.9
- Engine layout: 1490cc four-cylinder petrol turbo
- Max. power (PS): 140
- CO2: 133 g/km
- Price: £17,890