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All-new Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport first drive

Date: 15 March 2017   |   Author: Debbie Wood

Engines: Petrol: 140hp & 165hp 1.5, 260hp 2.0, Diesel: 110hp & 136hp 1.6, 170hp 2.0
Trims: Design, Design Nav, SRi, SRi Nav, SRi VX-Line Nav, Tech Line Nav & Elite Nav
Transmissions: Six-speed manual, six and eight-speed autos

Although premium (and mostly German) saloon cars in the D segment steal the majority of the limelight, the humble Vauxhall Insignia has been consistently delivering where it matters, in sales, with a quarter of a million sold in the UK to date.

It's well overdue a refresh, though, with the current model lagging behind newer and more accomplished rivals like the Volkswagen Passat, Mazda 6, and its long-time enemy the Ford Mondeo, in almost every area.

Step up the new Insignia Grand Sport - a car which not only introduces a new name for the firm's flagship model, but ushers in the start of a new chapter where Vauxhall and desirability (finally) join together.

Why the new name?

While the new car is bigger and takes a step towards premium rivals in quality, the name change is actually purely to help customers, in particular fleet buyers (who make up around 85% of sales), easily tell the difference between this car and the previous generation.

It's not really necessary, though. Put the two cars side by side and the differences are clear to see.

The new car stays true to the Monza concept we saw at Frankfurt in 2013. Its Coupe-esque roofline, lower and more prominent grille and slimline LED lights, which feature the firm's latest generation of adaptive and advanced IntelliLux lighting, are just a few of the headline exterior features. It's certainly more appealing on the eye than the rather bland car replaces.


You'll find the Insignia Grand Sport has grown considerably over the previous version. It's 55mm longer and 7mm wider, while more importantly the wheelbase has been stretched by 92mm, which means space inside is much improved, especially rear legroom, which was a key criticism of the previous car.

All this extra space comes at the expense of boot volume, though, which falls slightly by 10 litres to 490 litres. Few will notice the difference, though - there's still plenty of room for a couple of large suitcases and the weekly shop.

If you're holding out for the saloon Insignia - bad news, it's been dropped. There will, however, be a rather elegant and more practical estate version (revealed at Geneva) coming very shortly after this car's launch.

Popular diesel engine

Up to 175kg lighter than its predecessor, the new Insignia Grand Sport is, like before, best suited for those long motorway slogs. Despite the name, though, it's no sports car; however, it handles with poise and is agile enough, while the steering proves well judged.

For those looking for a racier performance, top-of-the-range cars also get all-wheel drive with torque vectoring for sportier handling and more grip. 

Crucially, it rides well and is impressively comfortable. They don't quite match the impeccably smooth Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Passat, but road and wind noise are kept to a minimum and the suspension does an admirable job of swallowing up potholes and bumps in the road.

This 1.6-litre diesel engine is likely to be a popular option for many fleets thanks to its low 114g/km CO2 figure, and with 136hp and 320Nm there's enough power to give the car a relatively brisk performance on the road. Officially, the 0-62mph sprint is achieved in a fraction over 10 seconds and the engine is refined and quiet at cruising speeds too.


It's not the economy champion of the range, though. That crown is given to the 110hp version of the same 1.6-litre unit. We haven't tested this engine but headline figures of 70mpg and 105g/km will likely appeal.

A new eight-speed automatic is available on higher trims - however, it's the six-speed manual that we're testing here. It's a marked improvement over the outgoing Insignia and although long-geared, is flexible enough. It's also worth noting that opting for the automatic adds around 20g/km of CO2 plus £1,730 to the price tag - not worth the compromise in our book.

Lots of choice

Vauxhall has decided to ignore its competitors, who have slimmed down their trim ranges to make life easier for buyers, and instead offers a mind-boggling seven grades to choose from. Our car came in mid-range company car-focused Tech Line trim, which includes 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, eight-inch touchscreen system, reversing camera and Apple CarPlay all included as standard.

The Vauxhall OnStar system, seen previously in the Astra, is standard across the range and has been upgraded to now include a hotel booking service and a feature that enables you to search for available parking spaces.

Luxuries like an automatic tailgate are noticeably absent and heated seats are reserved for the highest grade only, which is a little disappointing.

Options aren't expensive, though. Our test car came with a Winter Pack for £660 which includes heated seats and a heated windscreen. Another option worthy of note is the head-up display, which for just £290 offers good quality and all the essential information in the driver's line of sight that will make life a lot easier, and safer, when behind the wheel.


Crucially for fleets, the new Insignia Grand Sport offers a number of new safety systems, including adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist with departure warning, which provides gentle steering assistance when needed to help the car get back into lane.

Interior quality is very good overall. True, it's not the most modern or interesting of cockpits, and there are a few too many buttons and controls littered around the centre console, but it's well built and easy to navigate your way around the various functions.

Competitive whole-life costs

Design and interior improvements aside, it's the price of the new Insignia Grand Sport that is likely to steal the majority of headlines. Costing from £17,115, the new car is on average £1,500 cheaper than the previous generation. 

Residual values of 35.2% for our test car better the equivalent Mondeo and Passat too, and whole-life costs are very competitive at 48.4p per mile. It's not the cheapest per mile - the Skoda Superb leads the competition here - but its figures are still very good.

Is the new Vauxhall Insignia better than the previous version? Absolutely. But is it a modern masterpiece that showcases the latest that technology has to offer? Unfortunately not.

There's lots to like about the Insignia but it feels more like it's catching up with the competition rather than leading it. However, those striking looks and compelling whole-life costs will undoubtedly make it a popular alternative and maintain the strong sales enjoyed by the previous version.

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport Tech Line 1.6 136hp Turbo D ecoTEC

P11D Price: £21,525
On sale: March 2017
Residual value: 35.2%
Fuel: £5,077
Service, maintenance & repair: £1,870
Cost per mile: 48.4p
Fuel consumption: 65.7mpg
CO2 (BIK Band): 114g/km (22%)
BIK 20/40% per month: £79/£158
Boot space: 490 litres
Engine size/power: 1,598cc/136hp


  • Stylish looks
  • Competitive whole-life costs
  • Comfortable over long distances
  • Improved interior roominess
  • Low starting price
  • Bland cabin
  • Not as exciting to drive as rivals
  • Missing the latest advanced tech