Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Test Drive: Vauxhall Insignia – Day 2

Vauxhall-Insignia-SRi_thumbDay 2 of the 3-day test drive with the Vauxhall Insignia. It was slightly warmer in the morning (only minus 3C!!!) and the roads were a lot better. This gave me an opportunity to push the car a bit harder and take a closer look at the toys.

It’s still a bit early to determine the mpg, but zero-ing the trip and doing a few miles round town (with a heavy right foot!) returned 32mpg – a bit disappointing. If I had it for a bit longer, I would have liked to have taken it for a longer, and faster, spin along the A14 – I’m pretty sure I could improve the mpg too!

Comfort: I mostly like the SRi trim – it’s not leather, but the black/grey colour scheme looked very modern. No heated seats on this model, which I miss – especially on a day like today! The sports seats are very supportive and the seat cushion even extends to accommodate those with longer legs.

Performance: This car really flies! It has superb acceleration and the auto-box is silky smooth. Acceleration from stand-still felt very fast and the overtaking grunt is very impressive.The brakes are super sharp too. Overall, the car feels very composed on the road.

Cabin Layout: I’ve always been impressed with the up-market feel of the dashboard in my current car – the Ford Mondeo, and the Insignia therefore, had a lot to measure-up to. Good news then - the switchgear, the dashboard and the interior materials in the Insignia were all top-notch, giving a very classy feel to the inside. The central control ‘pad’ near the gear lever made life a little easier, although most of the time I forgot it was there and I instinctively reached for the main controls on the dashboard. Voice control worked well and setting up my phone to use the on-board Bluetooth was a doddle (but strangely it wouldn’t transfer my address book’, although I could make and receive calls). When I took the car out in the afternoon, I noticed that the phonebook from my car had magically transferred to dash display. Good news then? Well, no, actually, as a persistent message appeared on the screen ‘phonebook memory full’ – well, I do have over 1300 contacts on my phone (I wonder what the limit is for the car – 1000?).

Toys: Voice control, Bluetooth, electric lumbar support and USB connectivity were all very welcome, but I miss front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and electric folding mirrors – but most of all NO HEATED SEATS! Interestingly, the toy that took most getting used to was the auto-box in MANUAL mode. Whereas in the Mondeo you pushed the stick UP to change down a gear and DOWN to go up through the box; the Insignia is designed round the other way – up for up and down for down. Obviously, this is much more logical, but three years with the Mondeo, made it a hard habit to UNlearn.

Build Quality: The whole car looks and feels very solid. I prefer larger wheels on cars and although I would have liked 19 or 20 inch rims, the standard 18 inchers looked very chunky mated with the spoked alloys. Best of all, the doors all close with a reassuring ‘thunk’ and there aren’t any rattles anywhere – Excellent!

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the Insignia. Most of the toys that aren’t part the SRi spec, can all be specified as options, so IF I do go for an Insignia, it’ll have most of the toys that I like.

What’s next? it would be good to get an extended test drive of the new Volvo S60.