I have been admiring the rather elegant, sweeping design of the motor parked opposite my house. Then I realise with a slight shock that it’s my latest test car.
The new Vauxhall Insignia can catch you out like that — it’s one of the most classic designs the Luton-based company has ever produced. I’d put it up there with the historic Calibra as Vauxhall’s best ever and the Insignia is now the most aerodynamic car in its class in the world.
The latest version of Vauxhall’s company car favourite may not be dramatically different from the old one but the sharp-eyed will notice subtle exterior changes, the most obvious being a wider and lower front grille and redesigned headlights.
Inside, Vauxhall has mercifully reduced the instrument clutter, so hats off to that. The previous model had a faceless bank of almost identical switches which took some time to become familiar with. Now there’s a more understated, logical layout and a larger touchscreen display, plus an optional digital instrument panel.
The new touchscreen, as well as having a voice control function, also features a separate touchpad surface behind the gearlever resembling a computer mouse which allows menu items to be discovered by drawing a finger across the pad or tracing a letter onto the screen.
The long, lush hatch, with its iconic arched roofline and sweeping tail, has plenty of quietly classic road presence that speaks for itself without the need for gimmickry.
That’s the Insignia’s essence — it gets the job done with the minimum of effort and maximum efficiency.
The majority of company car drivers are going to be in their Insignias for a long time every day and owners I know have nothing but praise for the previous model, so the new car with its raft of improvements is bound to be a winner.
Inside the harmoniously designed cockpit, all is hushed, thanks to improved soundproofing, and it’s a pleasant environment in which to spend time.
The now familiar wraparound fascia design that ‘grows’ organically into the doors is retained and there is subtle use of the piano black detailing, rather than being swamped.
Thick and generously upholstered seats are supportive and comfortable with particularly impressive lumbar support, but there’s the age-old problem of vague lever adjustment for rake angle.
A word of praise for the latest 2.0 CDTi diesel engine which, although a tad noisy on start-up and early idle, settles down quickly on the move and boasts a long pull in every gear, so that you don’t have to keep rowing it along with the sweet-changing six-speed manual ‘box.
Most importantly, it achieves class-leading CO2 emissions of 98g/km.
Electronic Power Steering is standard on most models and been reprogrammed for improved feel, making the Insignia a more involving driving experience, and the car hunkers down nice and flat through the bends, though it always has a slightly heavy feel.
A gigantic boot and easy conversion of rear seats makes it a very practical proposition.
And with prices nearly £2,000 less than the outgoing model, what’s there not to like?