I’m going to start by dedicating this review to my Dad who passed away January 31st 2013 this one’s for you Dad.
Those of you that are regular readers would know about my Project Pimp My Astra, so you would be already aware I am an Opel fan so to be honest I was excited to pick this car up as it was going to be first taste of the new Opel Offerings that were released in Australia by Opel last year. While I would really like to drive the petrol version regular readers know what I think of modern diesel engines so you can imagine how excited I was to be reviewing the diesel Insignia Sport Tourer Select
Things did not start out to well as i got 3 km down the road after picking it up a low coolant level warning light came up on the dash. A quick phone call and it was back to the dealership to have it looked at where they found a short under the bonnet 30 min later and it’s all fixed and I’m back on the road.
Get the car home and decide to give it a look over and find hmmm somebody had forgot to wash the car, the front and rear screens were grubby as well so I had to clean them.
Yes I know you are now thinking I am being extremely picky because Opel out of their good graces were giving me this car for a week to review, but every other car I’ve picked up to review has been freshly washed and spotless.
So for the first day I had this little voice in the back of my head saying dude this is going to be one of those reviews which is not going to turn out well.
So did the Opel Insignia Sports Tourer Select put those voices to bed well I am happy to say it did, although they did come back for a few minutes when the plastic covering behind the rear vision mirror and the surround that goes around the rear air vents on the back of the console decided they would better on the floor of the car instead of being attached to it.
So my first impressions were I really liked the look of the Insignia it’s nice flowing lines, the sculpted line down the side, the slightly lowered stance, attractive 19inch alloys wrapped in Good Year F1 rubber. The rims are not over the top but are also not boring as hell they compliment the overall look of the car.
The Colour Asteroid Grey I am not sure about though I didn’t find it exciting at all in fact I found it quite boring mind you I am not a big fan of greys at all. Im sure this car would look sexy as hell in black.
Put it into gear and drive off and it impressed me with how smooth it is, the gear changes are seem less and it’s an absolute dream to drive in traffic. The transmission seems to be well matched to the engine and 99.9% of the time chooses the right gear only once or twice it was a little slow in kicking down when I put my foot down.
The sport shift works perfectly always changing when I asked it too, which added more fun to the drive when I was banging along my test route.
The Insignia I’m reviewing is powered by Opels 2.0L Turbo Diesel Engine rated at 118 kw of power and 350 nm of torque but it can develop 380 nm in over boost. This is a cracker of an engine. Opel has done some great work with their diesel engines lately and this car is no exception.
Start it up and there is that familiar diesel noise mind you it’s not that loud though just enough to let you know it’s an oil burner.
Developing its max torque low down in the rev range is the thing I like the most about modern diesel engines and while it can be a little slow off the mark like a lot of other diesel engines. Once you start to build the rev’s up a bit usually just after changing into 2nd the car surges and really just wants to take off.
Fuel economy is awesome remember this not a small car but the economy I was getting around town was unbelievable considering I gave it bootfuls any time I had the chance.
I know my fuel figures could have been a lot better for the week but the torque of the engine can be quite intoxicating specially using the sport shift to keep it in the torque band. So realistically if I was driving it normally or even with economy in mind I estimate I would at least 800 km’s or more from the tank. On the freeway you should get at least 1000 km or more out of the tank. The diesel engine lets you have your cake and eat it too, it can be a sporty drive but on the other hand offer you superb fuel economy as well.
The car has two trip metres I reset one to record my figures for the week and over the week I did 672 km averaging 9.3l/100 km at an ave speed of 31.4 km/h the computer said I still had 59 km to go before empty when I gave it back.
Mind you that was a combined figure of freeway, bumper to bumper traffic and normal city driving most it with the aircon set on 16 deg C. Turning the air con will see a of half a litre drop on the instant fuel usage at idle. It was just really hot that week so the aircon was a must.
Opel have done a great job on the exhaust system as well which just added to the experience for me. While it can be quiet when driving normally and idling, it gives off a some what rorty note when you push it a little harder.
On the inside the cabin is well set out the colours match perfectly with the rest of the interior there is a piano black line that starts on the doors and continues around the dash which breaks everything up and gives a nice classy feel to it. The dash has a slight soft feel to it which is nice I did find though that the harder plastics towards the bottom where very prone to scratching and there were plenty of marks to prove my thoughts.
All in all I really loved the set out and feel of the interior I think Opel have done a tremendous job on it and the fit of the interior pieces seemed to be spot on as well.
The centre stack while it looks a little confronting at first with all the buttons, it doesn’t take long to work everything out.
The Screen is a decent size but it isn’t touch screen, everything can be access by using a knob in the centre console. The system is not very complicated to use but to put it bluntly it’s a pain in the bum. I found the touch screen in my Captiva and the 2 Commodores I tested earlier so much more easier to use specially when putting an address into the sat nav. The saving grace though is the sound from the system is damn good indeed probably one of the best sounding systems I’ve heard. At the bottom of the centre stack is a little door that reveals a 12v charging point and a cradle for your phone to sit which i did like a lot.
The console is a perfect fit for the car and contains the knob for the infosystem and the button for the electric parking brake.
One thing I am going to mark as a fail is the chrome surround around the gear shift I had to spend the week with a towel over it as on certain angles it reflects the sun straight into the driver’s face, passengers face or both I found it highly annoying and very distracting if I owned the car first thing I would do is pull it out and get it covered in matt black vinyl or carbon fibre wrap.
The instruments are well set out and easy to read in between the dials is a red screen which contains a digital speedo and other functions which can be accessed via the stalk. At night they are softly lit and very easy to read and very easy on the eye’s.
Being an Opel and made in Germany the indicators are on the left hand side which might be confusing to some people, who are use to them being on the right, since I have an old Astra at home I’m use to it.
Onto the seats which have provided lots of comments during the week not all of them good. The front seats are ergonomic sports seats which are approved and recommended by AGR (Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V.), a German medical association that has set orthopaedic requirements for car seats. The seats adjust 8 ways with 4-way pneumatic lumbar support so there are plenty of ways to adjust them however I found them a little snug and a little hard. However they were very supportive specially when cornering but they would have been a lot more comfortable if they had been a touch wider. Couple of good points were they had an extension on the squab of the front seats which can extended for people with longer legs and the amount of adjustment.One thing that proved to be a favourite feature of the front seats was the ventilation where the seat blows cold air through the back and seat base, in winter the seats have heating. Everybody that went in the car wanted to sit in the front so they could as my sister put it “have cold air blown up your bum”. I Really loved it specially on a hot day as it made the leather seats more bearable to live with as the seats cooled down really quickly.
The rear seat I found a little hard and my kids thought it was no where near as comfortable compared to other cars I’ve tested. One thing that most complained about in the back was a lack of leg room even my dear old mum who’s not much taller then a garden gnome thought it was lacking space. Could be that they are use to bigger cars though as I thought it was ok but would have been more comfortable with a couple more inches. When I did sit behind the drivers my knees didn’t touch the seat even though I have it back a bit but there wasn’t much in it. Taller people may have a bit more trouble though but you have to remember this is a mid size car.
Two people could sit in comfort in the back but 2 kids and a garden gnome(my mum) was little more snug but they weren’t actually sitting on each other. The room in the back was very good we got a decent shopping load in there with room to spare and that space only increases when you fold down the rear seats.
I did however find putting in the groceries a bit of a pain as I had to bend over more and it was a bit of a stretch. But i am however use to loading up the Captiva which is a lot higher off the ground. What a lot of people including me found puzzling was another set of tail lights inside the back of the car that lit up when the tail gate was up. Took us ages to work out it was so people can see the car at night when you have the tail gate up as the tail lights are on the tail gate.
Ok now time for the thing I had the most trouble with this car and that’s reverse parking, the rear window is not that big and you have limited vision when parking this car really needs a reverse camera.
Those of you who are regular readers will know that I think rear view camera’s should be standard on every car and I do take points off every car I review with out them. While they aren’t the be all to end all in safety devices they do help.
It did have rear parking sensors but apparently the only decent rear parking system GM has made is the one in my Captiva. What I mean by that is the beeps on my Captiva are nice and loud and you can hear them easily even with the stereo on. Every other GM car including this one that I’ve tested with rear parking sensors the beeps are that low you can hardly hear them even with the stereo off and this car is no exception please turn them up a little bit.
The lighting system is unreal and only 2nd to engine and transmission combo as my fav things about the car. Being the range topping Select model it has what Opel calls Adaptive Forward Lighting Plus (AFL+). Bascially the bi-xenon headlights automatically change the beam of the lights depending on what speed you are doing, the conditions. It has side lights that light up the sides of the road while going around a corner making it easier to see pedestrians. This system is one of the most advanced systems in the mid size car segment and has won an Advanced Award from the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP). The lights really made me want to drive the car at night more.
The rain sensing wipers worked a treat actually adjusting the speed of the wipers with the amount rain that was coming down and the speed I was going.
On the road the Insignia handles quite well indeed there is touch of under steer when you go into a corner a bit fast like some bum draggers do. But I found all it took was touch of the brakes or a slight lift of the foot and it brought the nose back into line and we were back into it. This is where I had the most fun as the engine was right in the middle of the torque band.
It can be a little harsh across some rough surfaces but not enough to be off putting for me, in fact if the harshness was the trade off for it having handle as good as it does I would be happy to live with that.
The difference between the diesel and petrol models is the diesel is fitted with electric power steering. While I thought the steering was pretty good it just didn’t feel like it had as much feel to me as normal mechanical power steer. Although I will say haven’t driven the petrol version so I can’t give a direct comparison.
Back to the problems I mentioned in the beginning I will say I though that this particular car seems to have had a rough life. Scratches on the interior, gutter rash on the rear left wheel and a mark on the tyre from somebody reversing into a gutter. It appeared others that have driven this car before me haven’t treated this car as well as I have. Maybe that’s just me I know it’s press car that we get so we put it through it’s paces and write our opinions on it. But sorry I can’t take a car and trash it just to write a review I treat all the cars i get to review like they are my own. It’s not only about respecting the people I get the car off but also respecting the car itself.
This car is not perfect by any means and despite having some plastic bits falling off and some stuff I didn’t like, I couldn’t bring myself to hate this car. In fact it’s quite the opposite I really did like it, the Insignia Sports Tourer diesel would make a great family car that can be a very entertaining drive with a bonus of being frugal as well.
The engine and transmission combination is awesome it handled like a dream specially when being pushed through corners which makes it a fun drive as well. To me the only thing letting it down were little bits of the interior that fell off and the fact rear leg room could be a touch better.
I will say though that while I thought it could it have had more legroom other people might find it perfect for them.
Same could be said for the seats I’m not actually the smallest person in the world so somebody whose shoulders not as big as mine might fit the seats better.
I would definately say if you were looking for a midsize car with a touch of class, loaded with features, great handling, awesome engine and transmission combination and packed with technology. With the huge bonus of extra load capacity of a wagon and the awesome economy of a superb diesel engine. You would be extremely silly not to at least have a look at the Opel Insignia Sports Tourer specially the diesel model.
Thank you Opel Australia for lending me the car for a week for more info on the Insignia Sports Tourer or other cars in Opel Australia’s range please visit their website http://www.opel-australia.com.au