Let’s start with the good news. Probably the best bit of the Insignia’s infotainment system, and certainly the least infuriating, involves entertainment. Not because it breaks new ground or outdoes the competition with dazzling new features and technology, but because it does most of the important things well.
Central to this is solid digital music playback. If you’re a little old school, for instance, you can drop in home-burned CDs or DVDs packed with MP3 files into the dash-mounted optical drive. More likely, however, you’ll want to connect a USB storage device or an iPod.
In both cases, the Insignia has it covered. Admittedly, clearance above the USB socket (located in the armrest storage compartment) is a little restrictive. USB sticks longer than 70mm will not fit. But that aside, once connected devices are rapidly recognised. The system helpfully informs the driver that a new device has been attached and begins playback immediately. That’s preferable in our view to systems that do nothing, leaving you in doubt whether the device has been connected and forcing you to drill down into the menu to initiate playback.
Anyway, there’s nothing fancy about the USB or iPod playback, it just works, including those all-important iPod playlists. There’s also a 3.5mm aux-in jack that serves as a fall back for devices that won’t play ball via the USB port.
The only let down here is the AM/FM radio tuner. On the plus side, at least in theory, it supports several pages of favourite stations. In practice, outside of central London at least, there are not usually that many available stations at any one moment. What you want, therefore, is a system that is constantly scanning the airwaves for stations and always able to present you with a list of available listening, rather than pages of largely defunct or unavailable stations, as you move in and out of range.
As for the sound quality, it’s clear and crisp enough and delivers adequate punch. But it’s also rather overbright and lacking in genuine bass extension. What’s more, if you wind up the bass in an effort to add warmth, the system rapidly loses composure and suffers from some fairly harsh vibrations.