Review: Vauxhall Insignia long-term test month 2

Review: Vauxhall Insignia long-term test month 2
Review: Vauxhall Insignia long-term test month 2

The great thing about long-term test cars is you get to dig deeper into the fancy on-board systems than a single week would allow.

Take Vauxhall’s OnStar service. While I don’t need the hotel booking or parking finding services it offers, the instant connection to breakdown services proved a real boon when my wife hit a chunk of glass and punctured one of the tyres.

One press of the OnStar button in the roof and she was almost immediately connected to an operator who checked she was safe, confirmed the car’s location via GPS and got straight onto the recovery service. Within 30 minutes the AA were there and within an hour the tyre was replaced (there’s no spare wheel) and the car ready to go again. From start to finish the system worked seamlessly and took the stress out of what could have become a tiresome situation.

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport SRi Nav 1.6

Price: £26,640
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, diesel
Power: 134bhp
Torque: 236lb/ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 131mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Economy: 65.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 114g/km

As well as breakdown assistance, parking and hotel booking, the OnStar service automatically alert operators if the car is involved in a crash, can be used to summon emergency help and even track and disable your car if it’s been stolen.

It’s a pretty comprehensive service and while it’s only free for the first year, I reckon it’s worth paying for in the long term.

OnStar may be the centrepiece of Vauxhall’s connected systems but it’s just the tip of an impressive technological iceberg. Even before options our mid-range SRi Nav has an eight-inch touchscreen housing the usual DAB, Bluetooth and USB connectivity along with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and sat nav.

To that our car adds technology most often seen on cars costing far more than its £26,640 price.

The adaptive matrix LED headlights, for example. The last car I drove that had such a setup was a BMW costing four times as much as the Vauxhall. They’re a £1,010 option here but the self-adjusting LEDs really do help keep more of your surroundings lit without dazzling other drivers.

Head-up displays are also beginning to become popular but they’re still not common. Our Insignia’s £290 option might not be as advanced as the £1,000 ones offered by the likes of Audi and BMW but it is clear and can be configured to project a variety of information right into your eyeline.

There’s also the bonus of in-car wifi which has allowed me to turn the car into a proper mobile office while waiting outside my kids’ various sporting endeavours.

Paired with convenience and comfort features such as wireless phone charging, heated seats, steering wheel and front screen, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, lane keep and change assist, parking assist and adaptive suspension, it offers serious value for money.

I recently drove a Ford Mondeo costing £10,000 more than our Insignia and while it had a more powerful, four-wheel-drive powertrain it didn’t offer half the kit found on the Vauxhall. If you were to look for an Audi with similar equipment it would also cost you £10k more.

Of course, the Insignia’s interior can’t match an A4 for look or feel but it’s still a vast improvement of Vauxhalls from even a few years ago.

The interior isn’t just better than old Vauxhalls, it’s now on a par with the Mondeo, which used to be streets ahead. Material quality, looks and layout are all good, if not fantastic, and there’s masses of legroom front and rear. Compared to some rivals, however, head and shoulder room are tight in the back, making it an unwelcome prospect for tall passengers.

And while the touchscreen-based media system is fine in isolation, compared with Ford’s Sync3 or Audi’s MMI it can be a bit fiddly at times, so it’s not all a bed of roses.

What can’t be criticised is the solid 55pmg we’ve been seeing over a lot of mixed driving. The performance of the 134bhp diesel might be adequate rather than spectacular but with long-term economy like that it’s hard to argue with.

 

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