Why there is still a market for Insignia

Call me a traditionalist but I’ve always admired good old-fashioned cars.
The InsigniaThe Insignia
The Insignia

Saloon-styled cars have more allure for me than most MPVs, SUVs, hatchbacks and coupes.

But before too long, it seems, these old repmobiles will be consigned to museums. No-one cares much for saloons these days.

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I can see why. SUVs often have more road presence and MPVs have more space while hatchbacks are so much more versatile.

The cabinThe cabin
The cabin

But a neatly styled saloon can be a pretty car and it has more balance and poise than many of its rivals, as the Insignia shows.

Tested here is a petrol-powered Insignia which is wonderful to drive. It isn’t technically a saloon – rather, it’s a five-door hatchback – but it looks, feels and drives like a saloon, and that is very welcome.

No range anxiety here, for petrol stations unlike charge points are ten a penny. Because it isn’t tall and unwieldy like an SUV, it is balanced; because it isn’t wide and heavy, it cornered properly; and because it is low, it is comfortable to drive.

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It made me think there is a reason that saloons dominated the motor industry for decades, because they make sense in so many ways.

Saloons used to dominate sales charts but even though they now sell in relatively paltry numbers I’m not convinced they must die.

Of course, the SUV and MPV style is in vogue and will remain so for sometime to come, but I’m sure there are still many thousands of drivers who would still prefer a saloon for the simple reason they are better to drive. I surely can’t be the only traditional motorist.

Tested here is Insignia. The model began in 2008, taking its name from a concept model launched in 2003. It replaced the Vectra which in turn replaced the Cavalier. My goodness, I’d almost forgotten the Cavalier. Before that, we had the Viva, so you can see Vauxhall has heritage here.

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Insignia, in common with other saloons, doesn’t sell in the vast numbers it once did. It was the archetypal company car, much loved by reps, but it still does decent business and it still wins awards.

Tested here is one of the better-equipped versions, a sporty 2.0 litre model which is well equipped and highly capable. It manages 60mph in a little over seven seconds, yet returns more than 37mpg on a run. It is spacious, good-looking and sensible. It has a smooth engine and an even smoother nine-speed automatic gearbox, and it is packed to the hilt with safety and luxury features.

Insignia is said now to consume up to 18 per cent less fuel than the outgoing model, thanks to a range of powerful new high-efficiency engines. A new top-of-the-range GSi model also joins the range with unique tuning for its suspension and steering, plus bespoke styling.

The new Insignia engine line-up features three and four-cylinder units, including a 1.5-litre (122PS) diesel unit that achieves emissions of 121g/km. The three-cylinder engines are up to 50kg lighter than their four-cylinder predecessors in the outgoing model.

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The 2.0-litre petrol engines are also the first Vauxhall engines with cylinder deactivation. Unless the driver needs a lot of power, the variable camshaft control deactivates two cylinders. Quite how is beyond me, but the important thing is it reduces fuel consumption.

Available alongside the six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic and Stepless CVT options, the nine-speed is no bigger than a six-speed transmission and features a greatly reduced gear step size and class-leading shift quality.

It’s an emply-equipped car with no end of classy features. Highlights for me are the 8in screen, seven-speaker Bose stereo system, front and rear parking sensors and the leather upholstery.

The Driving Assistance Pack is commendable too with its automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, lane departure and electronic Stability Programme (ESP).

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It also has a sophisticated traffic sign recognition system which may spot the signs you miss.

As an overall package, this is a delightful car. At £35,000, it is competitive against similar sized rivals and it has a vast boot which would put many estates to shame.

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport SRI VX Line

Price: £35,180

Engine: a 1,998cc four cylinder petrol engine generating 200ps

Performance: Top speed 146mph and 0 to 60mph in 7.2 seconds

Economy: 37.7mpg combined

Insurance: Group 27E

Emissions: 167g/km

Warranty: Three years, 60,000 miles

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