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Vauxhall Insignia Elite Nav 4x4 2.8i
Spare a thought for the poor, beleaguered D-segment saloon. That's the Mondeos, Passats and (formerly) Vectras of this world. Squeezed from above by the increasing popularity of so-called premium brands, attacked from below by ever more capable C-segment hatchbacks and skewered in the sides by all manner of niche and crossover vehicles - life hasn't been easy of late for mass market four-door barges.
It's into that context Vauxhall has launched its latest effort, the new Vectra-vanquishing Insignia. Of course, despite the shrinking market for conventional D-segment saloons, they still sell in fairly big numbers. Contempt bred by familiarity probably remains inevitable, therefore, no matter how good the new Insignia is.
And make no mistake, at least in terms of styling, it's very good indeed. It's one of the best looking saloons available at any price. How much that actually matters, however, is a moot point. You also have to wonder whether clever interior flourishes such as door pulls that reflect the "blades" carved into the Insignia's exterior flanks are really going to have an impact in such a commoditised market.
Perhaps more important in reality is the question of how friendly a long term companion the Insignia is. With that metric in mind, aesthetics drop down the list of priorities and the likes of comfort, ergonomics and technology - our specialty - take top billing.
To find out how the Insignia fares, we've got the current flagship of the range, the Elite Nav 4x4 2.8i V6. Well, it's the flagship until the hot new VXR comes on stream at your local dealer. Our test car is hardly short on spec or features. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.8L V6 cranking out just under 260bhp to all four wheels courtesy of a six-speed auto box.
Needless to say it's trimmed out with Vauxhall's latest in-car kit. Highlights include electronically adjustable dampers, voice control, a multifunction steering wheel and power everything inside. On paper it's an impressive package. If it's anything like as good to live with as it is to look at, the Insignia is going to be a world beater. With a price tag around the £30k mark, it had better be.