Over the last month I have been in receipt of many cars for test drive. One of the brands I looked deeply into was Opel when they gave me two different Insignias. The first model I received was their Insignia Elite 2.0 CDTi 163PS Sport and the other was its little brother, the Insignia SE 2.0 CDTi 140PS. Despite the difference in trim and power I am happy to report that both really tickled my fancy for many reasons.
Both of the models I tested were extremely comfortable and there is room galore to the front and the rear. The Elite, of course, offers a higher quality trim from the outset and it offers that bit more functionality, but one can’t really complain about the comfort of the SE model either. Both cars I test-drove had heated leather seats and both offered leg-room and head-room in abundance.
Infotainment is something which Opel have been improving in all of their models with functionality available through a touch screen, through the steering wheel and through voice activation – which actually worked for me when I spoke really clearly! As if this amount of functionality wasn’t enough, it is also controllable from a mouse pad at the front of the armrest. The touch/mouse pad is not really for me, I found it to be slightly slow in its responsiveness, but it’s not as if I didn’t have any other choices.
Another bonus about the IntelliLink infotainment system is that every Insignia I have test drove in the last six months has had DAB radio as part of it. I really appreciate this as some of the quality available from DAB is incredible. I have mentioned it in reviews before now that I don’t understand why DAB isn’t more frequently available with cars in this country. I’ve been informed that it is more widely available internationally, and although it has not fully taken off in Ireland yet I feel that in the future it will, and if it doesn’t, it still has a lot to offer. I will put my hands up and admit to be slightly biased towards DAB because I work with a DAB station…..shameless plug time – Raidió Rí-Rá is the station and it is a chart music station with all of the talk in between as Gaeilge. Plug over!
There is a noticeable difference between the two trims, one is comfortable while the other is extremely comfortable. There are also slight differences in functionality, but as I’ve said already had I been handed the SE model without driving the Elite model I would still be writing up a good review here. Some of the differences between them include a fantastic leather trim in the seats of the elite, BOSE speakers (which of course you'll pay extra for - €515) and Side Blind Zone Alert among other features. I really like how their Side Blind Zone Alert works, what it does is when it feels something approaching on either side of the car it sends a small and subtle enough flash to the wing mirror on the side it feels the approaching vehicle, person or bike, etc.
I found the adaptive cruise control in the Elite model to work brilliantly. For those of you who don't know what this system does it effectively uses radars and sensors to monitor the space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front. The first time I used this system was in a Mercedes S Class back in 2006 and even now it still impresses me, this is another tool which brings vehicles one step closer to autonomous driving.
The difference between this model of Insignia and the outgoing model is small. There have been a few aerodynamic changes to make the car more efficient.
The grille is lower and slightly wider but it is difficult to tell them apart unless you are looking at the last generation sitting next to this new generation. This to me is a good thing. Firstly I feel that this is a good looking car, but apart from that, as I mentioned in my Mazda3 review subtle changes are good. And as the outgoing Insignia was a good looking car I am a big believer of the saying "if it's not broke, don't fix it".
Of course this is where you will find the big differences between the Elite I had with 163PS (hp) and the SE with the 140PS. One is without a doubt more powerful than the other and this can be felt as you put the foot down, but as I had mentioned before if I was given the 140PS model without testing the 163PS model I wouldn't be complaining. With that said however I am definitely more of a fan of the Insignia Elite 163PS that I drove. It's ride is very nice. It drives and handles very comfortably. This is a real cruiser on the motorway.
The Insignia comes with new engines which weren't in the previous models and these have been created to offer more power and better efficiency and you will find most of the range quiet inexpensive to tax, for example the 140PS should cost you €180 per annum at today's rates. Opel reckon that this particular model can offer a combined fuel economy figure of 3.7l/100km, sadly I didn't reach that number, I was getting in and around 7l/100km, which isn't too bad - a lot of the driving I was doing was in the city (although on-paper Opel tells us that I should get 4.5l/100 in urban driving conditions).
This car has a large choice of trims and is available in diesel and petrol form. The base model comes in at €24,995 for a 4-door saloon with a 1.4i Turbo (140PS or hp) engine. If it's more performance you are looking for their 2.8i Turbo (325PS) 4x4 OPC model is available from €54,195. The Elite I was driving is available from €37,395 while the SE I drove is available from €33,695. For more information on prices, specs and trims log onto www.opel.ie where they are also advertising three day test drives.
The CBG.ie verdict
I like this car a lot. The only fear I have for it is that it is regarded as a reps car. This is especially visible under the Vauxhall badge in the UK. Now, as a manufacturer being a reps car I presume is a good thing, because this means that the car will sell, but myself, I see this as being a luxury vehicle which should appeal to the masses and not just for reps on the road. This car should be enjoyed as well as being the work car it is.
As I was looking at two separate models I should state a preference and I am of course going to say that I got more enjoyment from the Elite with its extra functionality, extra power and extra specs, but as I've said a few times during this piece I did enjoy the SE model and I would consider it to be a very good car in its segment.