Vauxhall Insignia

Grand Sport 1.6

Turbo D

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, 2017, front, action
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, 2017, side
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, 2017, rear
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, 2017, rear seats
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, 2017, interior
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, 2017, boot

IT would be strangely bizarre and disturbing if cars didn't mature, develop and respond to advancing technology as investment and brain power nurtured their progression.

But frequently the fruits of labour and development are manifested in relatively small steps forwards, rather than the hoped-for giant leaps.

So when a model comes along that's simply streets ahead of the original it gets a justified fanfare of applause.

Perhaps the best recent illustration is the Vauxhall Insignia replacement, the Insignia Grand Sport, which is an altogether much improved family car.

Tens of thousands of motorists bought the last Insignia and lived happily with their choice, but just a couple of miles at the wheel of the new model is sure to convince most of the massive gains.

Not only is the Grand Sport better looking and more graceful - thanks to British designer Mark Adams - but sensibly it is made in a hatchback format, far more practical for family buyers than the traditional notchback saloon style.

Sitting on a new modular platform it is lower, more spacious yet lighter and consequently more nimble and athletic to drive.

Most popular version is the 1.6-litre diesel which knocks out a creditable 134bhp. There is also a more powerful diesel and several petrol versions.

As with most rivals, front drive is the flavour of the month.

Huge strides have been achieved in cabin styling. All trace of the haphazard stwichgear layout of the previous model has gone, to be replaced by a cleaner more thought-out display.

An eight-inch infotainment screen dominates proceedings and around it are high grade plastic mouldings that are more like a BMW in terms of quality.

Not only is knee and shoulder room much improved, but the boot can now absorb 490litres of luggage, making it one of the roomiest in its class.

The 1.6-litre ‘whisper' diesel is more the man enough to haul the generously sized five-seat body but don't expect electrifying acceleration. Nevertheless 62mph comes up in an unstrained nine seconds or so.

It pays to make use of the ample torque rather than rev the engine through the gears, when a noticeable harshness creeps in.

The standard six-speed manual box is better than that of most Vauxhalls of late but not quite as crisp as you'd find in an Audi or a Ford.

Body control over poor surfaces is well contained and controlled and despite strong cornering forces body-lean is restricted, allowing press-on driving along windy roads.

Vauxhall - now under the command of French giant PSA Group - has usually produced cars on the frugal side of economical, and the latest Insignia conforms to that pattern. My average was 49mpg, which compares well with official combined figure of 65.7mpg.

Despite a pared down purchase price of £21,580, it comes with loads of standard equipment. Sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, front camera system, touchscreen, tyre pressure monitoring system and seven speaker audio are included in the spec.

FAST FACTS

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport 1.6 Turbo D

Price: £21,580

Mechanical: 134bhp, 1,598cc, 4-cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-spd manual gearbox

Max Speed: 131mph

0-62mph: 9.9sec

Combined MPG: 65.7

Insurance Group: 16

C02 emissions: 114g/km

Bik rating: 24%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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