Good: capacious interior and boot, cruising ability, nicely thought-out controls.
Not so good: feels gigantic on the road, some coarse interior plastics, uninspiring to drive.
Opel has recently launched the all-new Insignia, and following on from the Insignia Grand Sport (a five-door hatchback to you and me), the estate has landed on Irish shores. Going once again by the moniker of 'Sports Tourer', it's a big car. Really, really big. The previous Insignia Sports Tourer was criticised in certain quarters for not prioritising space and load capacity to the same degree as its rivals, but the new car has more than rectified that.
That size increase is immediately evident once you lay eyes on the thing. It's actually 125mm longer overall than the gargantuan Skoda Superb Combi and viewed in profile the rear overhang looks awkwardly drawn out, something that's exaggerated by the swooping roofline. The smaller wheel options look lost in the cavernous arches, too, though Opel's new corporate face sits quite nicely on the front of the Insignia.
Looking back from the driver's seat, the rear window seems light years away, and as a result the car is a little difficult to place on urban commutes and when parking. Of course, the interior space benefits make up for that, with excellent rear legroom and a boot that's usefully bigger than the outgoing car, if still beaten by the Superb wagon.
As we noted in our review of the Grand Sport, some of the interior plastics below your immediate line of sight feel a little rough and ready, though the fascia design itself is fresh and well laid-out. In general, tangible quality isn't at the same level as its rivals', something that could hurt the car in this class.
Interestingly, Opel has stiffened the rear suspension for the estate to cope with the increased payload capacity, though this hasn't noticeably affected the ride comfort. The Insignia glides well over undulating Irish roads, with commendable body control whether empty or four-up and full of luggage, though there is pronounced roll and pitch when pushing through tighter corners and under braking. The chassis is par for the course for this type of vehicle, safe and secure rather than sporty and involving.
One area where the Insignia does excel is the long motorway cruise. The tall sixth gear, well-supressed wind and road noise and comfortable and spacious cabin make travelling distances a pleasure. Our test car featured the manual-only 138hp, 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, a unit that does sometimes feel slightly overwhelmed by the big lump of Opel it's being tasked to carry around, meaning you may find yourself visiting more fuel stations than you'd strictly like. If you intend to do a lot of towing, the torquey 2.0-litre turbodiesel would be our choice, it being the only diesel option for the Sports Tourer with both manual and automatic gearboxes available. A 256hp, 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is also on the price list, though only in Elite trim and with an automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive transmission, making it expensive to buy. Until the arrival of the sporty GSI and OPC variants, this is the quickest Insignia on our shores, with a horrifying annual road tax bill of €1,200 to boot thanks to its high CO2 emissions.
There are four trim levels available: SC, SRi, SE and the aforementioned Elite. All get Opel's vaunted OnStar system, with the usual connectivity options gathering extra features the higher you go. Visual upgrades like the OPC packs for inside and out can be specified in addition to the subtle changes for each trim, though some options (such as the Brownstone Nappa Premium Leather) are exceedingly costly. Niceties on this particular car include adaptive LED headlights, a head-up display and a powered tailgate among other things, lifting the price up to €39,585 from the SRi starting point of €30,550.
On PCP finance and taking the 1.5-litre Sports Tourer SRi with no additional options as an example, a deposit of €3,725 with 37 monthly repayments of €516.24 will result in a guaranteed minimum future value of €11,609. For those interested in a hire purchase agreement, a 30 per cent deposit of €9,165 followed by 36 monthly repayments of €644.59 are the figures for the same car.
With the seemingly endless barrage of SUVs and crossovers, the traditional family estate isn't far away from becoming a left-field choice. There's still a lot to be said for choosing one, and Opel has thoroughly redesigned its Insignia to offer a well-endowed and practical solution in this competitive class. Keener drivers won't find much to write home about, but the car manages to meet all the required criteria without truly excelling in any department.