If there’s one car that needs to perform well in a 70mph lane change, it’s the Vauxhall Insignia. Most examples are destined to spend much of their life pounding up and down the UK’s motorway network, so high-speed braking and stability are a priority.
On paper, the family car appears to have what it takes to tackle our test with confidence. As with the hi-tech Mercedes and BMW, it features stability control, anti-lock brakes and emergency brake assist. Added to this impressive list are straight-line and cornering braking control, together with self-cleaning discs that are only slightly smaller than those on the larger models tested.
This combination delivers excellent results in the straight line test. We managed to bring the Insignia to a halt from 70mph in 47 metres exactly – it was beaten only by the BMW X6. Better still, it felt very stable and secure, maintaining its composure on bumpy surfaces.
With such powerful brakes, it’s good to see that the Vauxhall warns following drivers of an emergency stop with flashing brake lights and automatic activation of its hazard lamps. Surprisingly, the Vauxhall failed to carry its strong performance through to the lane change test, where it took 74.0 metres to come to a standstill from 70mph.
This is 57.4 per cent more than it required in the straight line test – the biggest percentage increase of all our contenders. It’s not all bad news, though, because the Insignia felt incredibly safe and secure during this extreme manoeuvre.
The standard lowered and stiffened sports suspension of our SRi-spec test car minimised nose dive and body roll, while the steering delivered consistent feedback. Even disabling the stability control failed to upset the Vauxhall’s safe and predictable nature. In fact, the only black mark was against its lack of front end grip in the latter part of the test.
Despite the fact it wears fat 245mm front tyres, the Insignia’s nose pushed wide at the exit gate, and squeezing the car safely through required a surprising amount of corrective steering lock.
In day-to-day driving, this on-the-limit behaviour is much less of an issue. On the road the Vauxhall feels sure-footed and capable. Even with the SRi’s sporty chassis set-up, the emphasis is clearly on comfort and refinement. Only the raucous clatter of the 158bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine at idle manages to shatter the sense of calm. But for many Insignia buyers, this will be a small price to pay for the knowledge that their car has stronger safety credentials than most other family models.