Opel Insignia

Insignia has received a mid-life makeover that delivers minor changes on the outside but a lot more inside.

The engine range has been reworked and now you can get a very frugal and clean two-litre diesel that only emits little bunnies from the tailpipe!

Outside, there is a new grille to give the five-seater a broader, more elegant stance. The rear end features a repositioned chrome strip that now runs into the light clusters. New, handsome, big alloy wheel options are also available, allowing drivers to specify a fine-looking machine.

Inside, despite the dash layout being decluttered, there is a bit of a tech-fest going-on in higher-specified versions - bang on-message for the electronic tablet generation. A new multimedia system that integrates the driver's smartphone is the big news.

Insignia's 'IntelliLink' uses an eight-inch touch screen and four-inch instrument panel display. With IntelliLink drivers get: 'Navi 900' Sat Nav with an eight-inch colour touch-screen with video playback, voice control and touch-pad control. Drivers get not one, two, or even three, but four ways to interact with the car's secondary controls!

There are conventional buttons, steering wheel buttons, voice controls and a new (haptic feedback) touch-pad situated behind the gear lever. The touch-pad lets you scroll and click on things like the sat nav, radio presets etc and even allows you to input letters and digits by simply drawing them out with your finger (similar to Audi's system).

The theory sounds fantastic, but in practice it doesn't work very well. Firstly, in the majority of markets Opel targets, drivers get to use their right hand. In Ireland, drivers have to use their left hand and even guitarists will find it tricky to use. This touch-pad should be finger-clicking good but it simply doesn't work well enough. That said, technophobes can always operate the controls conventionally.

On the road the Insignia delivers a good driving experience and in diesel form can return great mpg. Insignia's two-litre diesel options include the 140hp engine and a 163hp, too. Both engines are a bit noisy when moving off, but refined enough once on the go. Insignia still lacks rear headroom compared to key rivals but that is the price paid for the sleek exterior design that Opel says is now the most streamlined production hatchback in the world.

Revised Insignia should be able to grow sales for Opel in this highly competitive sector that includes Mondeo (new Mondeo is still months away), Avensis, Passat, i40, Optima, Octavia and, of course, Mazda6, to name a few!

My main test car was a range-topper Elite with the 163hp, diesel on 20-inch alloys (€1,032). It weighed in at €43,513 with loads of extras fitted like Napa leather, heated steering wheel and seats, adaptive cruise control, adaptive lights and a Bose stereo, among others. The Elite 2.0CDTi (163Hp) starts at €33,695, with the entry Insignia starting at €24,995.

Do you need all the new Insignia tech? No, but what the German firm is doing is offering premium options that are becoming more common in the premium German brands, and these machines are still the ones people aspire to.

The brand new CDTi 140hp/350nm diesel with just 99g (tax band A2/€180) would be my choice.

Michael Sheridan


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