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Vauxhall Insignia Elite Nav 4x4 2.8i - Safety & Comfort
As a top spec example, our Insignia was inevitably heaving with safety and comfort features including the usual suspects such as electric memory seats, stability control, full leather and dual-zone climate control.
However, of particular interest from a techie viewpoint is the Adaptive Forward Lighting feature. According to the official blurb, this automatically adjusts the headlamp beam distribution to the prevailing road profile and visibility conditions. It boils down to two key capabilities, auto high beam dipping and steerable lighting.
First impressions of the auto-dip feature are extremely impressive. It doesn't just detect oncoming vehicles and dip beams to suit. It's also context aware, reacting to ambient lighting and road layouts such as junctions. It's extremely clever stuff.
The only problem is that it doesn't quite work well enough. It's too slow to react to oncoming cars on single carriageways. Leave the Insignia in auto-dip mode and you'll be treated regularly to high beam flashes by other road users keen to tell you to dip your lights. Ultimately, this kind of technology is binary. It needs to work near faultlessly to be of real use. And it doesn't, so it isn't.
As for the steerable headlamp feature, it doesn't have a huge impact on the open road. However, it is a real boon at tight, poorly lit junctions, allowing you a good view of the road you're turning into. It's the sort of feature one becomes accustomed to quite rapidly and misses acutely when it's gone. That's a sure sign it has real value. Adaptive Forward Lighting is standard fit to our high spec test car, but a fairly hefty £850 option on most of the range.
The other interesting feature is the adaptive drivetrain and chassis. At least it would be if it made a dramatic difference to the driving experience. In theory, everything from the suspension firmness to the steering and throttle response is configurable. But in practice, there's not a great deal of difference between comfort and sport modes besides a moderate firming of the dampers with the latter.
That said, the extent to which the car as a whole is configurable is extremely welcome. Within the infotainment menu there are options for tweaking everything from speed dependent audio volume, the courtesy feature which moves the driver's seat to a better position for entry and egress when you open the door, how long the head lights remain in courtesy mode after leaving the vehicle, whether the remote key fob unlocks all doors on first click or just driver's door and much, much more. None of this is rocket science, but it all enables you to set up the car just so.
On a final aside, we feel compelled to report that the Insignia's centre console - the section located between the front seats and housing the gear selector and secondary control wheel - suffered from fairly catastrophic creakiness. It's extremely noisy and does a pretty a pretty good job of spoiling the upmarket impression created by the rest of the cabin.