The Insignia, Opel’s flagship model, was launched back in 2009 and revamped in 2013, so as we come into 2016 it should be starting to look a little long in the tooth.

Yet at least on the surface of things it remains one of the best looking big cars out there and it’s a big seller for Opel. You may have noticed that there are a LOT of Insignias on Irish roads.

Diesel power is big at this end of the market and in 2015, Opel launched a brand new 2.0-litre CDTi ‘whisper diesel’ that meets the stringent Euro 6 emission standards. Power is upped from 163bhp to 170bhp, there’s more torque and improvements have been made in terms of efficiency and refinement.

This was my second time to experience Insignia, the first being in 2014 with the old 2.0-litre diesel and a white blinged up SRi model. This time my test car was a more demure black in classy Elite trim, with the 2.0-litre 170bhp diesel matched to an automatic transmission. What a great way to ease myself into the new year.

opel insignia irish review
The Opel Insignia has a strong, premium presence on the road

So what about that engine? Fire up the 2.0-litre, and there is little intrusion into the cabin from the new power plant. On the road, the engine does its job quietly and confidently, but you just have to tap the accelerator for an added boost of power that comes quickly and smoothly. The car will hit 100km/h from a standstill in 9.4 seconds and in official tests returned 63mpg. Emissions of 118g/km put it in tax band A with annual motor tax of €200. Go for the automatic and the emissions rise to 147g/km so you’re looking at a heftier €390 for motor tax. Other engine options for the Insignia include a 1.6-litre CDTi (136bhp) and a 1.4-litre turbo petrol with 140bhp.

The Insignia grips the road well through the corners and there’s a hefty feeling to the steering that gives a reassuring and sporty feel going around bends.  While the car grips, there is a fair bit of movement of the car’s weight over the suspension and SRi models fitted with sports suspension are tighter in this regard in my opinion. Comfort levels are high and the Insignia feels stable on the road but I would say avoid going for huge wheels. The 20” wheels added as an option on my test car are too much of an indulgence and the road noise they add is not worth it.

The interior layout still looks modern and current as the car ages and the quality is generally very good. The cabin is solid and comfortable, spacious enough for five and their luggage (boot is 530 litres) and there is so much equipment that can be added to your Insignia. There are no less than 5 equipment levels with S and SC being the more basic ones, SE and Elite the more premium ones and SRi the sporty one.

opel insignia irish review
Opel Insignia interior

SC and above have the IntelliLink infotainment system with 8” touchscreen and Apple CarPlay through smartphone connectivity. This system also comes with a sat nav. New for 2016 is Opel OnStar on SRi, SE and Elite, which is a useful personal assistant that you can call anytime from the car, for example if you have a fault and need to run a diagnostic check, find a place of interest nearby or in the event of a serious collision this service will call the emergency services.

All cars have alloys, LED daytime running lights, cruise control, air con,  electric parking brake, hill start assist, and electric front windows and mirrors. SC adds IntelliLink, multi function steering wheel, climate control and Bluetooth and digital radio. SRi adds a sporty OPC-inspired styling pack, OnStar, lowered sports suspension, bigger alloys, electric rear windows, front fog lights and rear privacy glass. SE adds auto lights and wipers and self-dimming rear view mirror, while Elite models have leather upholstery and heated front seats, bi-xenon headlights, 8 way electrically adjustable driver’s seat with memory function, front and rear parking sensors and electric folding mirrors.

The Insignia is arguably one of the cooler choices in this class with a strong premium presence on the road that’s more sleek and coupé like than many of its frumpier rivals. It’s not the most dynamically exciting car in the class but it’s not sloppy either, and is more than up for the job of long motorway cruises keeping everyone on board happy and comfortable. The new 2.0-litre diesel really majors on power, economy and refinement and despite the years advancing, the Opel Insignia still makes a great choice of big car.

opel insignia irish review
The new 2.0-litre diesel majors on power and refinement

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Opel Insignia 2.0-litre CDTi 170bhp Elite Automatic (Hatchback)
€38,450 (Range starts at €24,995)
2.0-litre diesel
9.4 seconds
CO2 Emissions: 
Motor Tax: 
€390 per year