2017 Opel Insignia Meta Review

This has to conclude my Opel binge. It’s a thematic collation of AutoExpress, Autocar and Car‘s reviews of the new Insignia.

2017 Opel Insignia GS: Opel.de

The reviews have been chopped up and organised under a few headings. They aren’t consistent as they seem to have all based their views on different versions of the car.

Read on to get the digest of the reviews…

Exterior

AutoExpress says “It’s an understated look, but more elegant than the previous Insignia and undeniably more eye-catching than most of its rivals. The only thing that can really spoil the look is the ugly rear wiper, which sticks out of the bootlid like something from the 1970s.”

Autocar´s  Steve Cropley says “the more graceful shape results from a lower scuttle, a longer bonnet (which is now aluminium), a prouder, more vertical front grille, narrower headlights […] a longer wheelbase and sculpted body sides …”

Car Magazine said  “[…] the Insignia Grand Sport’s new dimensions are really quite easy on the eye, especially when equipped with 20-inch alloys like this test car. There’s something of the rakish Audi A7 in its sloping roof and elegantly stretched side profile.” Car magazine can´t tell the difference between a quantitative factor (dimensions) and a qualitative one (proportions) and seem to have used “dimensions” where “proportion” was probably meant. And “dimensions” are not equipped with anything, the car is.

Interior

AE says “Material quality is good, and the fit and finish is even a match for the excellent Skoda Superb – but the hard plastics and dull design mean the Insignia Grand Sport will never beat the A4 or 3 Series for perceived quality.” Is AE serious when they call the car’s interior “dull”? I won’t say it’s what I would have done; it’s precisely as you’d expect a modern interior to be, no more and no less.  Autocar’s Steve Cropley says “the interior is similarly impressive: it is simple, drawing inspiration from the clean surfaces of the exterior, and from Adams’ preoccupation with simple logic for switch design and layout. Best of all is an enhanced aura of quality, inside and out.” So AE says “dull and Autocar says “enhanced aura of quality”.  Evidently Car magazine didn’t say a lot about the interior. I had a close read of their unhelpfully chatty text and found a reference to “a level of luxury more normally seen in the segment above.”

Driving

AE says “Once you’re on the move, though, the new Insignia is rather impressive. The ride is smooth in town … the compliant suspension set-up keeps things very composed in the cabin. And: “Still, throw the Insignia into some corners and you’ll discover that it’s also good to drive.” And “almost as nimble as the smaller Astra.” And “It’s more rewarding to drive than a Mondeo and even feels livelier than an A4, but for driving fun even an entry-level 3 Series is a better choice. Against traditional rivals, though, the Insignia Grand Sport is up there with the best in its class in terms of the nimbleness and composure it shows on the road.” AutoCropley said this “The Insignia Grand Sport’s long wheelbase and wide track make this a very stable car with excellent directional stability”. Car magazine says the car has “an impressively luxurious ride.” It also says “the driving dynamics are still a way behind the Ford Mondeo and Mazda 6 but it’s more than composed and grippy enough for day-to-day-driving scenarios.” Note that AE and Car disagree on the Insignia’s driving quality. AE and rate it more highly than the Mondeo and Car considers it to be not as good.

Performance:

AE says “The 1.5-litre petrol engine, while being a smooth and reasonably efficient unit, feels a bit flat in the Insignia. It’s just about torquey enough for in-gear overtakes, but even if you change down you’ll find that there’s not much grunt at the top end of the rev range”.

Steve Cropley´s Autocar says (of the 1.5 litre petrol with 163 bhp) “The peak torque […] felt even more relevant to the car’s performance, however, because one feature especially relevant to UK motorways was the car’s relaxed gearing […] and another was its surprisingly strong top-gear acceleration around that speed. The […] gearbox is sweet-shifting and its action matches the clutch perfectly […] beyond 3000rpm, it gains speed in high gears without effort or noise.”

Car magazine says “…the 2.0-litre Turbo D is cheerful enough, with its 295lb ft of torque arriving in one go when the rev counter needle tips past 1750rpm. By 5000rpm it’s all out of ideas so the gear lever for the six-speed manual box requires a fair bit of stirring to keep the Grand Sport on boil.”

Comfort

AE says “In fact, the usually class-leading Skoda Superb will find true competition from the Insignia Grand Sport in terms of rear-seat space, as there’s loads of legroom in the back – although the Vauxhall’s swooping roofline means headroom isn’t quite as good.” And they say: “it’s quiet, too. Engine noise is almost non-existent at motorway speeds and wind and road noise is kept at bay as well.” And they add that “the driving position is comfortable, there’s plenty of adjustment for any size of driver, and even though you sit fairly low, the shoulder line is also low enough that visibility is good.” Autocar’s Steve Cropley says “… the new Grand Sport has the same relaxed, easy-cruising feel as its predecessor, but improved…” And “…[sitting behind a six-foot driver] there’s still decent generous room for same in the rear.” And he also said that “….overall ride comfort is better than before, and just about ideal for a car like this: flat and notably quiet over bumps, with a decent level of damper control that promotes good grip and near-neutral handling in fast corners. Brakes are powerful and easy to modulate.” Car Magazine said ” rear legroom is generous”. And about noise, one can whisk “… along with little road or wind noise”.

Steve Cropley: Autocar.co.uk

General

AE says that “…where the Vauxhall has the edge over its competitors is on price: at £17,910 without options, our near-base-spec car is very well equipped for the money.” AE also judged the boot smaller than the Passat and Superb. It is 490 litres. Autocar’s Steve Cropley says “…since the launch of the original model in 2008, the Insignia has consistently delivered a bloody nose to two tough Volkswagen Group competitors, the Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Superb, and has also matched blows with premium saloons from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW that have lately dropped into its upper price echelons.” And he concludes that it “…looks very good to us. In the new Insignia Grand Sport […] a whole raft of worthwhile changes that improve the looks, the space, the handling, the economy and the comfort…. In short, Vauxhall’s biggest saloon looks a better proposition than ever.” Car magazine said “… the bigger and better Insignia Grand Sport – Vauxhall’s new flagship model – boasting sleeker looks, improved passenger space and a level of luxury more normally seen in the segment above.” And also Car called it a “behemoth”. About the boot Car was also critical: “…open the boot, that is, where the new car’s 490 litres means it is actually 40 down on the outgoing Insigna and quite a way off the Superb’s massive 625 litres.” The Insignia has an ” impressively hushed 2.0-litre diesel engine.”

Car magazine’s style means the matter of equipment is handled by a Q&A “Does it come with lots of equipment? This particular Insignia Grand Sport is rammed with kit… cheaper and sportier versions are in abundance too, like the body-kitted SRi VX-Line Nav…” And Car concluded “The previous Insignia fulfilled the purpose of getting you from A to B in a well-equipped and reasonably comfortable manner .. the new Grand Sport doesn’t entirely bend the needle on the desirability meter […] a much more likeable thing […] – and more practical too.” That last part is odd because Car criticised the car for its smaller boot.

My own view is that Opel have perhaps made a mistake with the smaller boot – the option of the Estate is useless if you don’t actually want an estate but the again 490 litres is absolutely a lot of room. It’s a shame the larger engines are not an option and I find it odd none of the reviewers mentioned the crummy fake side window. I don’t even think it looks as nice as the outgoing car.

Having edited the three texts, I found Car’s the least tractable or useful. The Q&A approach is patronising and tends to encourage flippancy. When discussing mainstream cars (where the differences are subtle and slim) such flippancy leads to gross over-emphasis. It does readers a disservice. As I said, I’ve ended my Car purchases. In looking at Cropley´s prose I noticed that he tends to present statistics rather than value judgements – it was a bit harder than with AE to find his estimations.

On balance, both AE and Autocropley provide intelligible descriptions of the car whilst Car has given up trying to detail the elements that users will notice or bothering to convey it an grown-up manner.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

7 thoughts on “2017 Opel Insignia Meta Review”

  1. “By 5000rpm it’s all out of ideas so the gear lever for the six-speed manual box requires a fair bit of stirring to keep the Grand Sport on boil”

    Do normal people really drive this way? I begrudge having to push past 3000 in my car, but it’s a necessity to keep up with motorway traffic (no 6th/overdrive). Gear changes normally occur around the 2500rpm mark, and generally earlier in town.

    1. “Do normal people really drive this way?”

      No. And it’s not just normal people, either. Anyone who is actually interested in cars to the point of having an ounce of mechanical sympathy doesn’t drive like that, either.

      LJKS wrote an outstanding column back in the day about how his profession of choice was not deemed worthy of comparison with other instances of high art, entirely because of the subject matter. There is something to this, but I do not believe it is because cars themselves are fundamentally a low-brow form of expression. As both a technical and creative exercise, they can reflect rare levels of outstanding achievement, and there is no intrinsic reason why literature about them cannot attain a similar level. Unfortunately, due to sensibilities like that expressed above, there is a not-entirely-unjustified well of thought at your average upper-middle-class dinner party that being interested in cars definitionally makes you a meat-headed, lead-footed oaf. The motoring press have a great deal to answer for in this respect.

    2. A further point to add. I have never seen the ride on the 500 Abarth SS described in the press as anything other than firm-tending-towards-rock-solid. My brother has one and even on the pock-marked, gravel-covered turf that masquerades as Australian asphalt, I consider it perfectly acceptable – not just for the type of car that it is, but entirely adequate, full stop. Indeed, one might entirely accurately call it “reasonably comfortable”. And this coming from someone who needs no persuasion about the value of ride quality as a core priority. In any case, it makes me think that for all the eleven-tenths driving god nonsense, most hacks would probably die if they actually sat in a real racecar with near-enough zero damping in the suspension.

  2. Prompted by mention of CAR’s “patronising question and answer approach”, I surveyed the last two editions. Features and columns apart, it’s taken over most of the black on white stuff between the pictures.

    Catechism is a very old linguistic device, originally used to instil religious dogma in the minds of children and uneducated adults. Worryingly, I found it very convenient in establishing basic facts (“Need to know” in CAR parlance) about such things as the DS7’s remarkable head and tail lights, and the fundamentals of the new Volvo XC60 and Seat Ibiza’s specification.

    I may try using the Q&A style myself some time, in the right circumstances.

    I’m also put in mind of Myles na gCopaleen’s brilliant “Catechism of Cliche”. An automotive version, mining the rich seam of fossilised guff which blights every sort of car writing, is long overdue.

    1. It’s an irritating trope? How irritating? Well, very. Really? Yes. Why? Because it destroys the flow? That’s a big claim – care to back it up? No. Et cetera.

  3. With the Chevy Malibu already on the market with the E2xx platform made at GM Fairfax Assembly in the US, it’ll be interesting to see how much better Opel can make it.

    Engines are 1.5 and 2.0t gasoline and a hybrid using the older 1.8 litre in Atkinson mode but with essentially the Volt drive system without electric plug and large battery, and set up to actually recharge the battery via the engine.

    The Malibu is a light car for its size – GM seems to be in the lead here. Nobody else seems to make them as light and quiet. As for the Malibu’s interior, it continues to be blechful, at least to me. The moronic TV advertising where brain-already-vacuum-removed millenials swan around comparing it to an Audi with leading questions asked of them by a robotically-voiced sleazebag is highly distressing for a car nut to watch. Perhaps the average couch potato popcorn cruncher doesn’t even notice, but really, sir, I must protest in the strongest possible terms. Yrs. etc.

    A bit short of headroom in the back, I believe.

    1. There’s a Catch-22: if the car is to look sleek then there’s a headroom price. And if room is prioritised then the looks suffer. It’s understandable they prefer to favour looks and the owner-driver. I don’t imagine a lot of people sit in the back (based on 25 years of driving, I may have 25 hours of rear-passenger adult occupancy. Of those, four hours was a single trip with my parents sitting the rear).

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