Car Review: Vauxhall - Insignia  Series 08 (4 stars)

The Vauxhall Insignia is a big improvement, but just misses out on competing for class honours.

It seems to be that Vauxhall spends years investing time and effort into building up the badge on a car until it finally admits that the brand is tarnished beyond repair. It then launches a new brand, suggesting that the company might turn over a new leaf and magically become less dull.

Thus the Cavalier became the Vectra and now the Vectra has become the Insignia - none of these are names that make your loins boil over, but the change does allow the company do ditch the baggage that built up around a car and to try something new.

The Vectra wasn't a bad car, but it was plagued by a perception that it was a terribly dull car, which was likely to be sitting in a car supermarket six months after its first registration, being offered at some ludicrous discount. The Insignia however is intended to be a completely different animal - the most obvious difference is the sleek, mildly sexy styling, which is a night and day improvement over its predecessor.

The Insignia has a sporty stance to it and a look of urgency that is much more appealing than the squat, square look of old. It has a fashionable coupe-like roofline that swoops down to a hatchback opening over a pert rear end. It might even be a desirable car.

Inside there is as big an improvement as on the outside. The quality of the interior is genuinely excellent and encourages the driver to take some pride in his car. This is a real step forward not just for the Insignia but for the Vauxhall brand, although it will remain to be seen whether this improvement stretches to other cars.

The interior doesn't just look good, but it feels good too - all of the seats are supportive and comfortable, lending themselves well to long-distance cruising. There is plenty of space upfront, but headroom could be a little cramped in the back for taller passengers. Legroom is more than adequate and the boot is capacious for the class, with folding seats that create yet more room.

The handling is a revelation compared to the Vectra as well - the driver feels much more involved and the car is keener to turn into a corner. It lacks that last ten percent that a Mondeo offers, but it is still a satisfying car to get behind the wheel of.

The engine range is accomplished too, although the entry-level 1.8-litre petrol should be avoided. Overall the Insignia is a great leap forward, coming within touching distance of the class best. Just keep it away from the car supermarkets, Vauxhall.

Vauxhall Insignia Series 08 StatisticsCar Reviews

Swiftcover and are both trading names of AXA Insurance UK plc, which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority