What is it?
The big mainstream hatchback isn’t dead. In fact, the Vauxhall Insignia has always done rather well in the UK. The British buy twice as many of 'em as any other country, and the model is due for replacement next year.
This is an early drive of a late development example of the next-generation Insignia; a ‘validation prototype’, they call it, used by engineers to prove components and for management to sign them off at various steps along the way.
It’s a funny old market segment, this one. Once it was called the D-segment and in it a Vauxhall Vectra went up against a Ford Mondeo and a Peugeot 407 and a Renault Laguna and you knew where you were. These days, though, the Insignia’s traditional class doesn’t just encompass what you’d once call compact executive cars, namely the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class; no, it’s absolutely dominated by them. Across Europe the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia is only the third best-selling car among them, behind the 3 Series and C-Class but ahead of the A4.
So this time the Insignia’s tack has changed a bit. Vauxhall is pitching it as 'the smartest alternative to premium'. The original Insignia was a biggish car in the segment anyway but has grown again, to 4897mm long, up 55mm, with a wheelbase, of 2829mm, that’s up by 92mm. That has pushed its size well into Skoda Superb territory, and almost into Audi A6/Mercedes E-Class territory. As with the Superb, if you choose an Insignia, they say, you’ll get a lot more space for your money. Which, if you can’t compete on badge alone, is not a bad way to pitch it.