Cars, tech, games… You name it, I’ll probably love it.
Cardiff, South Wales, UK
Bulky, long and loud are a few ways of describing the Insignia… In actuality, of course, I’m inclined to agree. There was this peculiar “love at first sight” feeling that went on when I came across the Insignia. I’ve always been fond of the family hatchback/saloon, it’s always appealed to me for some reason, maybe it was just the way the shape flowed? Or maybe it’s just my familiarity with the brand… Either way, it struck me as different.
What about it?
I’ve been living with a Vauxhall Insignia for little over 10 months now, and I’ve taken pride in this car since day one. Initially, I joked about it being a “dad car”. Little did I know that two weeks after buying the car, I found out I was going to be a father! So, I certainly settled into the “dad car” life. Vauxhall is one of those brands that I never saw myself driving. It has a reputation for McDonald’s car park girl chasers and hideous modifications. Seriously, the UK’s ‘chav car’ market lies predominantly within Vauxhall. But the Insignia, this one’s different.
Dubbed by many automotive journalists as the travelling salesman’s car. A term I’ve come to loathe. Yes, the intention for the Insignia is a family/company car, built for motorway commuting. It does it well, sure, but it’s much more than that to me – a vehicle I’ve developed a genuine passion for, one that I intend to keep going, further and further with every mile.
“The fact is I don’t drive just to get from A to B. I enjoy feeling the car’s reactions, becoming part of it.”– Enzo Ferrari
So where did this intense love come from? Well, I largely blame it on my neglect for my previous car – a Honda Civic – which died a tragic death. Running up to the point of its death I actually teased myself by looking for Insignias. Turns out the garage that took the Civic off my hands happened to have an Insignia – love at first sight. I had to have it.
But how does it drive?
Of course, I digress. It’s a far stretch from being fast (though, it’s certainly a heck of a lot quicker than any car due to be produced in 2022) and it somewhat lacks in the handling department. But where it lacks in handling it makes up for in comfort – best to be described as a car that just eases through bumpy roads and glides the rest of the way. That’s the thing, I love a car that is lower to the ground with a firmer suspension set up – they’re a lot of fun to chuck into corners. But, I feel like I’ve just hit a quarter-life milestone recently, and I’ve been craving a more comfortable ride recently.
The Fiat derived A20 DTH 4-cylinder diesel engine in this particular model produces 160bhp. It’s not a bad figure, with 258 ft-lb of torque it’s certainly punchy, especially when you are cruising on the motorway. Seriously, just planting your foot will get it up to speed pretty quick. And the fuel economy is more than impressive, it was certainly enough to change my opinion on diesel cars coming from petrol. 66mpg was a staggering reading to receive travelling from South Wales to the Lake District – a distance of roughly 202 miles. Impressive, though, not a regular reading. I’m averaging around 55mpg on motorways and roughly 32-38mpg in towns – still, quite a feat.
The gearbox… Oh dear, the gearbox. Go onto any Insignia forum and you’ll find a sea of remorse surrounding it’s gearbox. They’re hit or miss, some work well, others don’t. I’ve been lucky, I haven’t noticed any immediate issues. But the ratios, however, are awful; 1st gear has absolutely no go in it and 2nd just about gets you up to power. It’s almost embarrassing pulling off sometimes. I’m sure there’s reason for it, after all, it does weigh roughly 2 tonnes.
As it was first released in 2009, it was before the time of “smart” cars (no I’m not talking about the brand). Of course, this meant it was lacking in terms of touch screen infotainment screens and mostly hands free media. The Insignia did come with an earlier form of an infotainment screen in the form of the navi media screens. Unfortunately, I have the more basic CD media system. That being said, it’s still a really good system and I don’t really feel too distracted – it just means I have to connect my phone by good ol’ auxiliary. Other than that I’d say it has pretty much most of the features I’d want. Wheel mounted media buttons, air conditioning, lumbar seat adjustments… a handbrake. What more could you ask for?
Taking the risk…
I have known since I first bought the Insignia that there has been a multitude of issues down the line, but then again, what car doesn’t? (except for Ladas, those things are tanks) Take the dual mass flywheel, for example, they’re known to just give out within 5 years of their life cycle and wear quite poorly. The oil pickup pipe seal is also known for wearing and causing some extreme pressure issues. And amongst this, there are several other faults, including the DPF & other electrical nuisances. It certainly isn’t the perfect car. But it damn well has been the best car I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning. As long as you look after it, it’ll look after you.
It’s a strange attachment to make, I know. But, it’s one that keeps me looking back every time I leave for the day. An attachment that forces me to park in the space the furthest away from the store… Just for the sake of keeping it safe. This is what love at first sight does to you. It keeps you on your toes, it makes you protect what you love the most, even if it means going just that little bit further. Further and further with every mile.