Despite shedding quite a few kilos, the latest Insignia is still a big, heavy car, and rarely are you left in any doubt about this. None of the engines are blessed with particularly sterling performance, and while the 134bhp 1.6-litre powered diesel engine is likely to be the biggest seller, because of its excellent economy and lowly CO2 emissions, it does struggle to motivate the Insignia away from the mark. First gear feels very low, and once the revs start soaring, which is almost immediately, the engine begins to sound very harsh and noisy. Consequently, it pays to give the throttle a short blast and grab second gear as quickly as possible. Thankfully, the engine has sufficient mid-range grunt, so once you are rolling, it will pull second gear happily enough. Just as well, as the last thing you want when trundling along in slow moving traffic is to be constantly jamming it into first gear.
Although not exactly a fireball, the latest 163bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine is reasonably smooth and flexible, but it does flatter to deceive, something you’ll notice the first time you come to overtake. It’s simply not that quick, and it also suffers from quite a bit of stutter as you step on or release the accelerator pedal. All the Insignia’s engines we’ve driven have produced clearly audible levels of turbo whistle. The diesel engines are less prone to this than the petrol, but it’s a trait always noticeable as you press the throttle. It’s so pronounced with the most powerful 258bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine, you can almost play a tune by stepping on and off the gas.
Although not as slick as the manual gearbox found in a Ford Mondeo, the manual changes are much improved compared to the outgoing Insignia, and an all-new 8-speed automatic is now also available. Although it’s not particularly rapid when it comes to cog swapping, it is extremely smooth, so it’s sure to be a hit with those who regularly endure congested traffic conditions.