by Huw Thomas, vice chairman, Welsh Motoring Writers
CURREnT Insignia was General Motors’ last big European project before it sold Opel-Vauxhall to PSA (Peugeot Citroen) in 2017. ‘Grand Sport Tourer’ (hatch) and ‘Sports Tourer’ (estate) arrived that year and the ‘Country Tourer’ late last year.
Hatch and estate 4x4s are 8-speed auto 2.0T 260ps petrol or 2.0BiT 210ps Diesel. But the Country Tourer 4×4 can be had with a 2.0TD Diesel 170 engine and manual 6-speed gearbox. Otherwise it’s the 2.0 Bi-Turbo 210 auto again.
Overall the Insignia’s (asking) prices* are keen. Hatch from £19,940, estate from £21,500 (smaller engines) topping off at £39,720 for the GSi 4×4 auto. Country Tourer seems good value for money: £28,470 for the 2.0TD 170 4×4 manual (£27,150 front wheel drive); 2.0 BiT 210 4×4 auto at £30,080.
not too badly equipped either. Satnav of course (7” touchscreen) and the usual connectivity-infotainment assets together with ‘FlexRide’ drive-mode (normal-Sport-Tour). A front-mounted camera complements the park sensor function with auto-emergency braking and traffic sign recognition, etc.
This can be enhanced by extra cost drive- assist packs. There’s also a heating pack (front seats, steering wheel, windscreen) at £660. Power tailgate and towing pack cost £680 and £685.
Despite front and rear skid plates serious off-
road work is beyond its remit. Ground clearance is only slightly greater than the standard car (but does mean ‘grounding’ the front overhang on a car park pavement kerb is much less likely) and there’s no hill descent control or 50-50 front-rear drive lock.
The GKn-sourced 4×4 system however is sophisticated. Rather than merely have the rear axle kick in as slip-sensor induced, it includes ‘torque vectoring’ which allows the rear- mounted clutch set to vary the drive between each wheel benefitting not only off-tarmac response and but also on-road handling, cornering etc.
Regular Insignia’s ride/road-holding trade-off is nicely judged, body control good and steering direct. The Country Tourer is not quite as sharp and drive mode best set for ‘comfort’ except at full load/towing to add stiffness and ‘weight’ to the ‘dynamics’.
Based on GM’s E2 platform (Buick Regal and others) the Insignia is a spacious car in terms of passenger comfort and load-space. At 5 metres it’s not far short of Audi’s A6 or Volvo V90. Roomier than VW’s Passat or Ford Mondeo it yields marginally to Skoda’s Superb. Audi A4 Allroad and Volvo V60 Cross Country its other rivals.
As with most cars in this category securing a high-spec vehicle at a (very) tight transaction price will mitigate the inevitable depreciation. That done this relaxed yet muscular yet aptly named 4×4 estate should please. An impressive motor car.