We drove the Opel Insignia Grand Sport Exclusive: the fascination of balance

Opel cars have reached a remarkably high level of sheer driving dynamics which make them such a pleasure to drive, and this latest generation of the eye pleasing Insignia range amply proves this point again.

We sat behind the wheel of the 2 liter Diesel version, with not less than 170 HP, coupled to an 8 speed automatic. The perfect combination to make this car a magnificent open road cruiser, with of course ample pulling power in urban situations…

But it is the overall, the well honed balance of this car which impressed us most, its responsiveness, agility and precision, combined with excellent seating comfort, which makes it stand out in its class. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Flowing understatement

We already praised the well proportioned fluent shape of the latest generation Insignia at its presentation, and we liked the very subdued brilliant “Racing Grey” of our test car.

The contours of this Opel are reminiscent of the Opel Monza prototype, and are very well proportioned indeed, looking like a big four dour coupé. Its wheelbase is 92 millimeter longer than the previous generation, which was quite successful, by the way, with about 900,000 units sold, and remember, this Insignia was coined Car of the Year in 2009…

The new Insignia is also lighter, up to 175 kg, which is indeed no small feat. It is 29 millimeter lower but stands firmer on its feet with an 11 mm wider track.

Sporting cabin, breathing sculptured workmanship…

The dashboard is well shaped, and the focus is here on uncluttered practicality. The touchscreen of the Intellilink system masters many functions, and the centre console is divided in three functional zones: infotainment, airco/heating, driving assistance systems, all contributing to a pleasant user experience.

We liked also the round dials with the chromed surroundings, and the instrumentation itself is exemplary too, with nothing less than an oil temperature meter in addition to the water temp gauge, quite useful for the keen Diesel driver who wants to use its powerful engine responsibly.

Our test car sported an overhead display, and it proved to be one of the most readable displays we have come across lately. When we found our ideal seating/driving position behind the wheel, it was right in line with our vision on the road in front of us, and was crystal clear indeed…

Needless to say that one feels right at home in this new Insignia. The seating position is indeed excellent, the seats are comfortable and well sculpted, and will please even the most sporting minded driver when it comes to lateral support. Back and thigh support is also excellent, and indeed, these seats are built to offer comfort for hours on end. The ergonomics are also well studied, and all the controls are easy at hand, and marvelously intuitive. Our test car came with black leather “Siena II” Jet black perforated leather seats, and this added of course extra panache.

Legroom is also abundant at the rear, and the designers have even succeeded in offering larger boot space, now reaching a volume of 490 liter, extendable to 1450 liter with both rear backrests folded back.

Formidable chassis and drivetrain

Average test consumption was merely 5.9 liter/100 km… 

The 2 liter CDTI 170 HP Turbo Diesel makes itself well noticed when cold, and emits some vibrations when idling, but as soon as the unit warms up, things get a lot smoother, and the start/stop function will prevent any further undue vibrations at the urban traffic light.

It is ideally mated to an 8 speed automatic and here its excellent torque characteristics come into play. It develops lots of it: 400 Nm between 1750 and 2500 rpm, and this translates into brilliant accelerations, enhancing the impression of agility of this Insignia, further underlined by its excellent chassis and suspension.

The Insignia is a fast car, both on paper and in practice. 0 to 100 km/h is absolved in 8,9 seconds, and the top speed is 223 km/h. But, as we said, it offers first and foremost potent acceleration power in intermediate speeds, and can therefore be called a true Gran Turismo. The efficiency of a Diesel comes of course clearly into play here, and the consumption on high speed autobahn or motorway runs with this slippery Insignia is something hitherto unseen in petrol engines.

Average consumption according to the ECE cycle is merely 5,5 liters, with CO2 emissions boiling down to 145 g/km. Suffice also to say here that the Diesel is totally imperceptible and vibrationless at these high cruising speeds.

Our average test consumption was a good 5,9 liter/100 km, which is impressive indeed, considering that we drove this Insignia with spirit to say the least. Just look at the accompanying photo.

Driving is believing, so they say, and this is certainly true for the Insignia. Its suspension set up is masterfully done, striking an ideal balance between comfort, precision, agility. The steering sensitivity adds to the driving pleasure, being electronically assisted and speed sensitive.

The Insignia even informs you about the quality of your oil… 

We did not miss the four-wheel drive, which is optionally available, together with torque vectoring, but then our test was mostly done with fair late summer weather accompanying us. We look forward to test one of these versions in more wet conditions soon…

Infotainment and driver’s assistance

Of course, the Insignia pilot disposes of all the necessary driving aids we find nowadays in cars in this category, going from Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist to Rear Cross Traffic Alert. We already mentioned the Head Up Display, and the Opel OnStar service, helping you 24/24 and providing an automatic response in case of accident or when the car is being stolen. A new “Personal Assistent” is now also provided, which you can ask to book a hotel room or find a parking space…

Last but not least, night driving safety is also enhanced by the Intellilux LED matrix headlamps with not less than 32 LED segments, which results in even more precise lighting patterns. When you put on high beam mode, the bends are also better illuminated. A special led spot will then also throw a light beam to a distance of 400 meters.

One last word of appreciation is due for the excellent finish and workmanship which we found in this Insignia, which displayed excellent build quality throughout.

 

Conclusion

The Insignia impressed us already at its presentation, but now we are even more convinced of the superb dynamic qualities of this four door coupé, offering spaciousness, excellent finish, appealing styling, and last but not least what every Opel driver cherishes greatly: value for money, reliability and longevity, with on top of it all excellent economy, certainly with this Diesel version.

Hans Knol ten Bensel