New Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport Elite Nav 2.0T petrol 4x4 review

We drive Vauxhall's new Insignia Grand Sport Elite Nav 2.0 Turbo 4x4, the fastest and most expensive model in the range

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The range-topping Insignia Grand Sport is an impressive car in many respects but has too many flaws beside the cheaper, less sophisticated, and ultimately better value members of the line-up. And at £28,000 it struggles, and fails, to match the lower end of the premium market as well. The new Insignia is a classic case of less is more.

It won't be the most popular model within the new Insignia line up, not by a long chalk. But the Grand Sport Elite Nav 2.0 Turbo 4x4 will certainly have the longest name in the range. It’ll also be the quickest, most powerful, most expensive Insignia you can buy when deliveries begin in June this year.

Question is, does the fact that this Grand Sport boasts a level of specification comparable to a fully-loaded kitchen, also make it the best Insignia money can buy?

In some respects, yes, because the technical sophistication on offer is well beyond what you’ll find in, say, the more affordable 1.5 petrol Turbo model we tested last week. But in other ways, no, it absolutely does not, because in places the extra tech detracts from the fundamentally fine way in which the less sophisticated Insignias drive.

New Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport 2017 review

Take the wheels and suspension. In this Grand Sport you get multi-adjustable electronic suspension and 20-inch wheels and tyres, neither of which do the car any favours dynamically. The rims look sexy but, even by Vauxhall’s own admission, they spoil the ride quality while the electronic suspension endows the car with a curious, worst of both world’s chassis compromise.

In Sport mode the ride is simply too stiff and too uncomfortable for most UK roads, while in the Tour setting, the car develops a degree of unwanted float – even when being driven sedately along a motorway. This develops into a fair amount of roll if you try to drive it fast on more challenging roads.

Which is a pity because in many other areas the latest Insignia is an impressive car. As we’ve already discovered in the lesser versions, the level of space and quality on offer is hard to criticise; the boot is big and the amount of head and legroom in the rear borders on luxurious.

It’s also very well made – even if it falls some way short of the quality you’ll find in the genuine premium competition from Germany – namely Audi, BMW and Mercedes – all of which cost a lot more money than the Grand Sport.

And the level of equipment is pretty much beyond compare at this price level, with an eight-inch touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay, heated seats, adaptive cruise control, on board wi-fi, state of the art LED headlights, Intelligent sat-nav, dual-zone climate control and a premium Bose sound system – all included in the basic price. To specify a Mercedes C-Class to the same level would cost at least another £12,000, and even against more relevant rivals from Ford and Volkswagen, Vauxhall claims to offer more, for far less.

Apart from the unnecessarily complicated electronic chassis, the only major downside with the Grand Sport 2.0 is fuel economy relative to its performance. There’s nothing wrong with a 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds, nor the 155mph top speed. And the eight-speed auto gearbox also works well in practice.

But on the road the fastest Insignia only ever feels pleasantly brisk, with little turbo lag but equally little in the way of aural delight on offer from its 257bhp, 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. And when you consider that we averaged just 21.5mpg in the car over a 1,400-mile European road trip, the mediocre performance becomes harder, if not impossible to excuse.

Bottom line; go for a more affordable, less complex model – because the cheaper the better when it comes to the new Insignia.

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