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ALL THE LATEST NEWS, VIEWS AND STORIES FROM AROUND YOUR LOCAL AREA:JANUARY/FEBRUARY


MOTORING NEWS


“If it ain’t broke, don’t mend it”, is a familiar philosophy which rings true to a favourite in the ample size hatch and estate car category. Though introduced in 2008 – a long time ago in the life of a modern car - and with a styling update injected a couple of years ago, Vauxhall’s Insignia is fresh as ever thanks to some discreet tweaks both outwardly and out of sight.


On test is the Insignia Grand Sport SRi, which for good measure is fitted not only with the VX-Line styling pack but also comes with a host of optional extras to include Vauxhall’s Flex Ride and 20-inch alloy wheels to give the car its sleek and muscular appearance. The result is a truly sporting version of an already smoothie of a family hatch, and a car that stands up to the best that any of the German opposition can offer.


With its low-set seating this is a car that you can snuggle behind the wheel to enjoy a confined and sporting feel. The seats are ergonomically perfect for long distance driving and can be finely adjusted for comfort and support. This top-range sports insignia is packed with equipment and boasts head-up display and the added luxury of a heated steering wheel. Under the bonnet, the 2-litre turbodiesel is both refined and tuned for performance, hence the suspension has a controlled firmness about it to provide for a glued-to-the-road ride as well as affording that essential confidence when negotiating tricky routes with sharp bends and sudden inclines and dips.


Having such big diameter wheels with low- profile tyres there’s every reason to expect some compromise when it comes to ride quality, but it comes as a pleasant surprise to find the suspension is so well engineered


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that it offers a satisfying degree of compliancy, even over poorer surfaces. To give the Grand Sport a tough test as to its agility and athleticism, one of the chosen routes was from Cockermouth to Keswick via Buttermere and Honister before turning south passing Thirlmere and Windermere to Newby Bridge, Ulverston, Barrow-in- Furness and northwards skirting the Cumbria coast until heading inland at Egremont to return to base. Steep ascents and descents, narrow twisting roads and routes to test the efficiency of the automatic six-speed transmission, not to mention the light but precise steering and the dependency of the brakes, were all treated with aplomb.


Fuel consumption over the test route was never going to be as good as an open A-road slog, but averaging 43mpg is pretty good when 46mpg can be achieved on a


long motorway trawl. Add to this the Insignia SRi’s performance and passenger comfort that comes with having Vauxhall’s Flex Ride continually variable damper system which adjusts to the road condition and driving style. Switch to ‘tour mode’ and the ride becomes noticeably soft and wafting, but selecting ‘sport’ brings you back to earth.


Vauxhall has produced an excellent sports variant of a family hatch which has an identity all of its own.


Malcolm Bobbitt www.wheelspinautomedia.co.uk Photographs by MB and Vauxhall


*Test car supplied by Vauxhall. Price from £28,045 OTR; as tested with options, £35,370


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