Insignia – A Poor Man’s Audi A7?

Scanning through the ANE website I noticed what I thought was a case of mistaken identity.

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The title of an article was about the incoming Audi A7, but, in my haste, my brain registered that the accompanying photo was of a Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. Closer inspection revealed that my mind was playing tricks on me, but looking at photos of each car from the front three quarters made me feel better that it was a (fairly) easy mistake to make.

A longer look makes the distinction a lot more obvious, and the Insignia looks more upright and stockier than the Audi, with less crisp execution of details, shut-lines and feature-lines, but the Vauxhall has some elegance and even a touch of class in my book.

There’s a new Insignia parked on a drive outside of a house on one of my dog-walking circuits and I have been admiring the low, slightly slanting forward front fascia every time I walk past. There is a rather incongruous central crease on the low bonnet which surmounts the headlamp/ grille/ front valance ensemble, which spoils the clean effect.

Then, the car’s styling deteriorates the further back from the front you go and I can get quite angry about those gloss-black plastic blanking plates embedded in the D pillars which complete the extended profile of the ‘DLO’. However, that front three quarter view is very nice, with more than a hint of the new A7 about it. Mark that up as a rare strike for Vauxhall over Audi.

Author: S.V. Robinson

Life long interest in cars and the industry

15 thoughts on “Insignia – A Poor Man’s Audi A7?”

  1. I have yet to see one of those in the metal. The “old” Insignia is not rare on our streets, but the new one just doesn’t seem to sell. If there would be one, 90% chances are that it’s an estate. This one at least has the benefit of not having plastic plates in the C-pillar, but I’m still not convinced about its thick D-pillar and the associated chrome strip. Maybe it looks better than the photos make me think.

    The new A7 looks horrible. I quite like the current one, were it not for the front grille. But now they don’t add anything new than a lot of creases and other features that ruin the clean lines. The grille gets even uglier and more aggressive with each iteration. I had the doubtful pleasure of meeting a new A8 on the highway a few days ago and was baffled by its incongruous design. Again the grille was very angular, wide and aggressive, and stood in sharp contrast to the back where bulging shapes of steel and chrome parts abund. The whole back fascis is so overburdened with lights and chrome features, it looks like a poorly executed thing from the 1950s. Apparently today’s leaders who currently meet in Davos like this kind of stuff.

    1. In counterpoint the new Insignia is carrying on same as before here. The blank plate on the sideglass is such a pity as the rest of the car is an excercise in width and flow. I like the relation of the brightwork and lamps too – it emphasises width. Is it a poor man’s A7? That seems a bit unfair as these cars aren’t cheap. A poor man’s A7 is a 12 year old Golf 3-door.

  2. Interesting. So that’s the UK equivalent of the current Chevrolet Malibu, which strongly resembles the A7, especially from the rear.

    Both look somewhat squashed, make me think Miller’s Thumb. In other words, sculpin.

    1. I think it´s almost exactly the same as a Buick Regal TourX (I mean the Opel Insignia estate is pretty much the same). The Regal saloon is like the previous Opel Insignia as in near identical.

  3. The D pillar blanking plate is inexcusable. It undoes all the good work done elsewhere. (I believe BMW has employed some similar visual trickery on its forthcoming X2, also inexcusable).

    Conceptually, if not so much in looks, the Skoda Superb is an A7 for the masses. It’s even available with 4WD.

  4. A curious thing. The previous Insignia was a decent seller in the Republic of Ireland. I’ve spent the past two months in my homeland and have seen roughly about three examples on the roads here. The current Mondeo is a far more common sight, as is the Superb and of course, the default Passat. To be honest, I didn’t see that many in Blighty either since they became available. I can’t really understand why.

    Saying that, I find the car somewhat unconvincing in the flesh. It’s handsome, make no mistake, but it has a somewhat apologetic stance by comparison to its more muscular looking forebear. And like just about everyone, I find that rear blanking plate abominable. Opel weren’t the only ones to do this of course – Jaguar were castigated for it on the XJ, Mazda have one on the otherwise very handsome (and criminally ignored 6) and, well, others have been mentioned.

    It feels as though its been around for several years already rather than being an all-new design. I wouldn’t call it dated, but its design lacks a certain quality for me. When I can fathom what that is, I’ll let you know. It’s bugging the hell out of me….

    1. Eoin: the Insignia is “contemporary vernacular” car design. It has no very clear theme. It is refined and attractive I think, which is what Ford and BMW are doing too.

    1. Goodness, that´s a sorry end to a long tale. It´s not because the Insignia isn´t a decent car. It´s so many other factors. The one thing militating against all the C-D cars from the former volume manufacturers is that they are way too big. So why doesn´t that put people off 5 series which are also way too big too? Brand values etc.

  5. As happened with the Cascada, Vauxhall are more forthright than their counterparts on mainland Europe about the demise of a product.

    In 2021 pan-European Insignia sales were 20,384, in 2020 the number was 21,133. Peak for the Insignia B was 72,347 in 2017, its launch year. Add to that the extirpation of Holden, and North American Buick Regal production ending in 2020 (China’s Regals are built in Shanghai) and 400 cars a week can’t be worth the bother.

    1. They can afford to be more forthright in the UK, I guess, as there aren’t many factories at risk. Clearly it can’t be worth carrying on production for a few thousand right hand drive cars a year.

      I’ve only ever seen Insignia saloons as police cars – they look pretty good in that role, as the colour scheme seems to suit the shape. There was an estate, too, I think; I’m pretty certain that I’ve never seen one.

      I guess that leaves the Škoda Superb as the last non-premium man standing. For how long I wouldn’t like to bet – you can lease one for £318 / month; for £14 more you could have an A6…

  6. The Insignia, over here in NZ was sold as the ZB Commodore, and was as expected, the recipient of a large order from the NZ Police. The standing orders from the police and rental car companies over the last few decades, for new Commodore, has regularly kept the Commodore in it’s various versions at the top of the best seller list. But not any more, even our police making a partial switch to Holden Captivas , Equinox, and Colorado for semi rural use.
    One problem the police did discover was the lack of headroom in the rear, and more particularly, the low head height to get through the rear door aperture on the saloon/sedan version. This was solved by switching to the estate/wagon version, with it’s taller opening at the rear. The extra versatility of the wagon variant was soon realised, so much so, that the Commodore’s forced replacement, (forced by the end of Holden as an entity), the Skoda Superb is ONLY in use in the wagon variant.

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