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Insignia Grand Sport: Vauxhall’s coupe-like saloon takes aim at the big boys

By Paul Connolly

Rebranding can be a tricky business, as Theresa May found out when she tried to sell herself, instead of the Conservative Party as a whole, to the electorate.

It's no different in motor land. Manufacturers need to take great care not to throw the baby out with the bathwater with re-brands and name changes.

Done carefully, it works well. A botched job, though, will be a disaster.

Vauxhall is currently rebranding its Insignia range. The model name of Insignia remains the same, but the old saloon and estate versions have been reimagined.

The hatchback saloon has become the Insignia Grand Sport, and the estate the Insignia Sports Tourer.

I'm not really sure where the 'sport' classification comes into it, as the cars remain pretty much standard saloon and estate cars. Possibly to make them sound more SUV or crossover-ish.

That's not to say there's anything wrong with them. There isn't.

Take the Insignia Grand Sport, for instance. This is the second generation of the Insignia; the first went on sale in the UK in 2008 when it replaced the Vectra.

And a lovely job they've done of it, too, whatever the merits of the Grand Sport name change.

It has been put on a starvation diet, losing 175kg (about 27 stone) and received a nice external overhaul that raises the bar in terms of looks and elegance as it attempts to move into German premium saloon territory.

Despite the weight loss, the Insignia Grand Sport's wheelbase has grown in size. It's now challenging the Skoda Superb and even the Merc E-Class and BMW 5-Series in length.

A swooping roofline gives the car a coupe-like feel (and consequently less rear headroom than some rivals).

There's a prominent grille and slimline headlamps to enhance the wide horizontal design. What Vauxhall calls a "sweepspear" - a crease feature - starts in the front door and sweeps to the back.

The look works. The overall feel is Merc-like both in its intent and delivery.

With a drag co-efficient of 0.26, it's also very aerodynamic.

Engines range from 110PS to 260PS, with an all-new 1.5-litre Turbo looking very nice among a familiar line-up of diesels and petrols.

There is also a FlexRide chassis with Standard, Sport and Tour modes to control the dampers, steering and throttle responses.

New intelligent AWD is provided via two electrically controlled multi-plate clutches that replace the rear axle differential, allowing torque vectoring for the first time (for example, when cornering, additional torque is transmitted to the outside rear wheel).

You'd expect your new Insignia Grand Sport to be packed with the latest kit given the arms-race in car tech.

Next-generation IntelliLux LED matrix lighting is integrated into the new slimline headlamps, while Lane Keep Assist, a Head-up Display, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control with emergency braking and a heated windshield are also amongst the goodies.

The cabin has been thoroughly upgraded, and includes seats specially crafted to support the human back.

There is excellent infotainment and connectivity thanks to the IntelliLink and Vauxhall OnStar systems, with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and wireless charging. You can connect seven devices to the onboard wifi.

New OnStar features allow occupants to book hotel rooms and search for suitable parking spots via an OnStar adviser.

There are seven trim levels: Design, Design Nav, SRi, SRi Nav, SRi VX-line Nav, Tech Line Nav, and Elite Nav.

Insignias are popular with fleet managers due to low Bik costs, and this continues with even bigger savings. Prices range from £17,115 for a six-speed 1.5 turbo Design model to £26,755 for an Elite Nav 2.0 Turbo D automatic.

The Grand Sport is on sale now and you'll see the first cars on our roads very shortly.

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