THE Opel flagship Insignia has been revised for 2012 to make it a more efficient workhorse in a market segment where fleet managers and middle income families make shrewd decisions before putting their money down. The development that will impress most is the choice of two 2-litre common rail diesel engines that are now in Band A for road tax purposes thanks to lower C02 emissions. Economy has also been improved with the addition of stop-start technology.
The improvements come without any noticeable compromise on performance and driving pleasure. The 2-litre CDTi Elite at €34,380 has an impressive level of comfort and good stability at high speeds. C02 emissions have been reduced to 115g/km thanks to the stop-start and some tweaking under the bonnet.
Seats are comfortable with lumbar support and electric adjustment for the driver with position memory added. The cabin is spacious with good leg and shoulder room in the rear. Equipment on board is impressive with 18" alloys, integrated satnav, centre console mulltifunctional controls, a comprehensive entertainment kit, heated front seats, adaptive lighting, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers and a tyre-pressure monitoring system.
Amazingly, a Bluetooth kit is an extra at €325. Lesser models have this as standard nowadays. Also disappointing is the small size of the wing mirrors and with the driver's seat at a high setting, there is a struggle to engage the seat belt in the anchor between the seat and the centre console.
The engine efficiency and the smooth gear change are two of the most enjoyable features of the Insignia. There have been other changes but in fairness not a lot needed to be done to the body as the saloon is stylish anyway. There is also a 2-litre common rail diesel with 130 bhp output on offer.
For those who want to cut their outlay there is an SC petrol version with a 1.4 litre 16v turbo unit with stop-start selling at €27,295 (€26,495 for the base version). This 140 bhp unit with 200 Nm of torque @1850-4900rpm was a big surprise, giving a lively enough performance considering the engine capacity. It is an option for low-mileage families who value comfort and safety over power and performance. This model comes into Band B for road tax (€226) but the savings in the initial outlay should be a factor in opting for the petrol power plant.
Despite the improved performance, Insignia has an uphill battle in a very competitive segment of the market. By mid-May, it languished in the sales chart behind Toyota Avensis (2,174), Skoda Octavia (1,614), VW Passat (1,519) and Ford Mondeo (1,265). The Insignia was at 972.