Vauxhall Insignia

Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Vauxhall Insignia

4th February, 2018

Someone reversed into the side of our wonderful BMW X1 while I was in stationary traffic on the way home last week, which means it’s sadly off getting a new door and wheel arch put on.

In the meantime, their insurance company has arranged a hire car, and I have been provided with a (“free upgrade!”) 2017 Vauxhall Insignia. Not-so-lucky me!

I should say that I have something of a track record of hating replacement cars I am given. Twice in the past year we have owned the X1 have we been given replacement cars, once after it broke down and once while it was being serviced. On those two occasions I had a 3-series (poor visibility and somehow boring despite its speed) and a Mini Countryman (too big, looks weird, underpowered and ridiculous rear doors).

So what could possibly be wrong with the Insignia? It’s not a terrible car, that’s for sure. It’s quiet and drives pretty comfortably. It’s clearly designed for people who are important in their own way to steam up and down the M1 in relative comfort.

Unfortunately it’s a flaw in its heritage; fundamentally it’s still a Vauxhall and as a result suffers from a lack of polish, finesse and attention to detail that you should find in a premium car. On the whole the car is fine, but if it’s aiming to be a premium model, there are a ton of tiny imperfections and poor details which add up to generally runing it.

Some specific examples when driving: the steering is too light, and there is no feel of the road whatsoever; there is a place to rest your foot while it’s not on the clutch, but it’s a few centimeters further away from the driver than the clutch pedal when it is fully up, which means you can’t slide your foot over, you have to lift it and place it back down again; it’s a turbo diesel but I don’t know what the turbo is actually doing because it is underpowered at high revs, it just gives up.

There are many issues on the visual and finishing side too. They have put a crease in the front bonnet to make it look like a muscle car, but it’s just ugly. The indicators are too bright, lighting up the whole road in front of you when they are on (even with the headlights on). Inside, there are accent lights on the door panel, which are fine until you try reversing and checking the side mirrors when they are hugely distracting. They have managed to cram many buttons and functions onto the steering wheel, but because they are all lit up bright white, whenever you turn the wheel quickly it looks like a roman candle. The big screen in the middle of the console is the only source of the time, so if you turn it off, it stays on and glowing slightly, which is very off-putting in the dark. The speedo is set to the right and far too small to make out what speed you are actually doing. The list goes on!

On the practicality side, it is way too long; the boot is very long and wide but inexplicably shallow; and there is a geniunely irritating whirr from a small electric motor somewhere behind the dash every time you open the driver’s door.

It sounds like another week of this car, given the X1 needs a new wheel arch and door - hopefully it won’t be too long before I can give this one back!