Insignia insight: exploring Vauxhall's new motorway muncher

  • We delve into the Insignia's equipment levels
  • Models to suit a variety of needs and wants
  • Advice on which optional extras to pick

Vauxhall’s all-new Insignia Grand Sport hatchback and the Sports Tourer estate are now available to order, commencing this summer at prices starting from £17,115.

We’ll be driving what’s expected to become a new fleet favourite in the coming days, but that gives us time to explore the trim level structure to determine which is the best Vauxhall Insignia to buy.

Value-focused Design trim

Entry-level models still tend to be tainted by recollections from the days when even the basics such as a passenger-side door mirror, a heated rear window and a clock weren’t standard fare. But choose the least-expensive Insignia trim – Design – and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how things have moved on.

Survey the exterior and you’ll spot what Vauxhall calls 17-inch ‘structure’ wheels – they look like alloys but effectively they’re cheaper steel items with an alloy trim, giving the look of something more upmarket for a fraction of the cost.

Other exterior highlights include automatic lights, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, all-round electric windows and, for added convenience, keyless entry and starting.

Once you’re within the more spacious interior you’ll appreciate the manual air-con, cruise control with speed limiter function and a fully-adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel with buttons for controlling the multimedia system.

That package is Vauxhall’s Intellilink system, complete with a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, with seven speakers for audio playback.

Along with expected safety features of six airbags, three Isofix child seat mounting points in the rear and electronic stability software, is Vauxhall’s OnStar system. It’s a virtual concierge service that allows the Insignia’s occupants to connect with a Luton-based call centre to have directions downloaded, diagnostics performed and the emergency services contact with the car’s exact location relayed in the event of an accident.

Satellite-navigation can be added to that package with Design Nav, which is identical save for the upgraded Navi 900 Intellilink multimedia system and 8.0-inch colour touchscreen.

Sportier aspirations

Vauxhalls with a hint of performance have been a mainstay of the brand with the SRi trim level part of various line-ups for over three decades.

These days the visual upgrades are more subtle than they once were, with a tailgate spoiler for the Grand Sport and silver roof rails for the Sports Tourer being the primary differences compared with the Design models.

Other exterior embellishments include 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, automatic wipers and darkened privacy glass for the rear windows.

Inside the sporty touches are more apparent, with heavily bolstered front seats and sports pedals. Other feel-good touches include dual-zone climate control for the air-con, soft-glowing ambient LED lights in the front door trim and the convenience of twin USB sockets for rear seat passengers.

Prices start at £19,215 for the SRi trim.

Once again the Navi 900 system and enlarged touchscreen is part of the otherwise unchanged SRi Nav model, costing from £20,010.

There’s a more overtly purposeful look about the pumped-up SRi VX-Line Nav, primary due to its deeper front and rear bumpers, extended side sills and a visible exhaust pipe. Such visual aggression will set you back from £21,230.

All versions barring the 1.6-litre Turbo D have their alloys swapped for 18-inch diameter versions.

A dark headlining is the most immediate change inside the car but once nestled in the driver’s seat you’ll spot the flat-bottomed – and heated – steering wheel with a 4.2-inch colour display in the instrument binnacle behind it.

Tech Line: the fleet favourite

Priced at the same level as SRi Nav is the company car driver-sating Tech Line Nav. There’re no sporty pretentions here (although it shares the SRi’s alloys), but there’s a greater emphasis on functionality and visual grace.

As well as the automatic wipers to differentiate it from the Design Nav, you’ll also benefit from parking sensors in the bumpers and chrome-look fillets in the door handles.

Cabin highlights include dual-zone climate control, twin USB sockets in the rear, the 4.2-inch display in the instrument cluster as well as a height-adjustable front passenger seat and a lumbar function for the driver.

Flagship Elite Nav bristles with kit

Opt for the range-topping Insignia Elite Nav – starting at £22,640 – and you’ll get a choice of alloy wheels – 17-inchers for the 1.6 Turbo Ds, 20s for the 2.0 Turbo 4x4s, with 18s for everything in between – front foglights, rear privacy glass and Vauxhall’s excellent Intellilux LED matrix headlights, with 32 individual lighting elements.

Once aboard you’ll appreciate the leather interior with heated front seats matched with heated outer rear seats on the Turbo 4x4.

There’s an uprated Bose premium sound system on the Turbo 4x4, too.

Which is the Insignia to go for?

Based on the comparative specifications we’d plump for the middle-ranking Tech Line Nav trim over the similarly priced SRi Nav. You sacrifice the apparent sportiness but the result is a more comfortable, flexible car that’s better suited to life as a motorway cruiser.

So which options should you consider?

As with the majority of new cars, the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport and Sports Tourer can be further personalised with a raft of extra-cost options. But which are the ones we’d recommend?

We’ve yet to sample how the Insignia drives so we’ll reserve judgement on the £800 Flexride adaptive suspension system until we know how well the conventional suspension set up works, but if you drive a lot of miles on motorways and dual carriageways, the Driving Assistance Pack Two with adaptive cruise control would get our vote at £480.

Safety’s further increased with the head-up display system that projects key driving information onto the windscreen in line with your vision, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road for longer. It’s less expensive than many rivals’ systems at £290.

If you enjoy aural accompaniment to your long drives then the Bose premium sound system’s worth upgrading to at £510, but as impressive as those Intellilux LED matrix headlights are, you’d have to do a lot of night-time driving to warrant spending £1,010 on the upgrade.

We’ll be bringing you our comprehensive Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport review – including all you need to know about how the newcomer drives – on 15 March. Find out then if this should be your next company car.