Fleet drivers have it much better than they think. In the past, they’d have been given a soggy old Vectra and discovered Clarkson was right.
Now? The single manufacturer policy may still be with Vauxhall but this time it’s an Insignia that’s in the car park. And those that feel downtrodden are wrong.
Insignias are German cars for those without a premium budget. The Ecoflex model that’s just departed MR cost from less than £19,000: for a big five-door hatch like this (and it is big – over 4.8 metres long, no less), that’s seriously impressive.
Ours was the £21,594 Tech Line, which includes Vauxhall’s very Apple-like IntelliLink 900 sat nav, an un-Apple-like touchpad controller (it’s so fiddly, you soon learn how to do it all via steering wheel remote) and Audi-like LED running lights as standard. You really don’t need more.
Particularly as, unlike early eco specials, this one doesn’t ask for any compromises. OK, the small diameter wheels look pretty weedy, but it’s otherwise hard to distinguish from a regular 2.0-litre CDTi Insignia. It doesn’t feel stripped out inside and feels just as surprisingly rich as other Insignias.
It still delivers despite this. Beats BMW, no less, and beats the 100g/km CO2 barrier with a gram to spare. 98g/km CO2 from a car this size and weighty confidence is remarkable, and the complementary 76.3mpg average is remarkable. Even if fleet drivers hate the car, they’ll love the reduced BIK tax bills.
And they shouldn’t hate it, because it drives perfectly nicely. There’s a heavyweight, upmarket confidence to it on the move, that’s combined with surprising accuracy from the steering and front end in corners. It’s not a dynamic benchmark and the firmly sprung ride is jittery (although the small wheels do keep big crashes at bay) but, overall, the inbuilt integrity is evident: this is a quality car, and feels it.
Certainly it’s a surprisingly upscale machine for the money that proves you don’t need to spend a premium to get a driving experience that premium engineering within.
Fleet drivers, don’t feel downtrodden if even the entry BMW 316d ES is way beyond your monthly budget. The Insignia is a much better can than you may give it credit for.