This isn’t about the Opel Insignia though the words came from a review of the car. It’s about what kind of lives automotive journalists lead. It’s about language.
“The previous Insignia fulfilled the purpose of getting you from A to B in a well-equipped and reasonably comfortable manner…” wrote Car magazine the other day. What could they possibly mean***?
My eyebrows raised at the use of the word “reasonably”. Let’s assume the Insignia is/was just average on the comfort stakes. Given that all the cars in the class are very good (apart from the Avensis), that means even being dead average is far above the minimum levels of acceptable comfort. I don’t think that’s an outrageous claim, more like a quite conservative one. So, in the light of that, what is it that the writer at Car magazine meant by “reasonably comfortable”?
In trying to interpret this one could say it was an understatement as in “we were reasonably comfortable in the limousine…”. Or it could be irony as in “under the circumstances – the caviar, the sun, and free drinks – we were reasonably comfortable”. Or did the writer mean that, in his view, and compared to all the cars on sale, the Insignia was only slightly above the minimum acceptable when one takes into account some factors which we are not privy to. If the Insignia is at least average, does the writer think most of the cars in the class are just “reasonably” comfortable too? They aren’t a whole lot different, to be honest.
So where does this leave the Opel which Car considered “reasonably” comfortable? I think that Car’s writer has lost his sense of perspective. It’s my contention that if you are in the habit of driving luxury cars very often then driving an “ordinary car” (from the Polo/Fiesta/Corsa class and up to, say, the Mercedes E-class in boggo spec) is something of an endurance test, something of a penance, a real act of suffering. That’s how the pretty decent Insignia gets rated as “reasonably comfortable.”
I’ve driven quite a lot of different cars in the last three years and even the Toyota Aygo of 2015 proved to be “reasonably comfortable”. For goodness’ sake even the awful, awful Avensis was more than reasonably comfortable, if nothing else.
To conclude I think that either a) this journalist has lost sight of the cars most people drive and how comfortable almost all of them are or b) this journalist slipped into Vauxhal/Opel mode where nothing is good enough and faint praise is the order of the day. Or indeed it could be both.
I have prepared a diagram above with a small Peugeot and a Rolls Royce as opposite poles. I’d argue that if you were to drive from Calais to St Jean Cap Ferrat (the standard DTW touring route) you’d still be reasonably comfortable in the Peugeot. It would be pretty much okay – soft seats, fresh air, not really noisy but not exactly plush or refined. “Reasonable comfort” is, in my view, what all manufacturers aim for as a minimum. It’s good in the context of what you are offered. A commercial van is reasonably comfortable today. And such cars have been for 20 years.
Referring to this graph above, where do readers put “reasonable comfort” on that somewhat unevenly distributed scale of 1 to 10?
***Apart from the sloppy writing: “getting you from A to B in a well-equipped […] manner…”