Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport Has New Petrol Guise And Design For Us

The perceived decline in demand for large cars over the past decade hasn’t done much to harm the UK success of the Vauxhall Insignia. Luton counts the 4.9m-long exec as one of its successes – which is why it has unveiled this new version, now called the Insignia Grand Sport. First deliveries are planned for June. Continue reading ” Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport Has New Petrol Guise And Design For Us”

Vauxhall Insignia: When Casualty Meets Performance

AFTER YEARS OF building some frankly rather ordinary cars, Vauxhall suddenly seems to be on a bit of a roll. The latest Astra is one of our favourite small family cars and the recently revised Zafira Tourer is a thoroughly recommendable MPV. So, hopes are high for the second-generation Insignia executive car, which is in the final stages of develop mentahead of its launch next summer. The new car is 55mm longer than its predecessor, with 92mm of extra space between the front and rear wheels, creating more room for passengers. Continue reading “Vauxhall Insignia: When Casualty Meets Performance”

Vauxhall VXR8 GTS

WHEN I LOOK BACK ON MY time with the VXR8, it’s nearly always with a smile. Okay, so when an overdraft warning pinged through on my phone I might have rued the 15.161/100km, but even when the children were eating gruel and my wife was darning socks, I reckon it was probably worth it. The VXR8 GTS isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s unique, big-hearted and almost impossible not to love (unless you’re Dickie Meaden, who hates it). Continue reading “Vauxhall VXR8 GTS”

Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo

PICK-UPS are big business in Australia, all One of the most popular is the Holden ute, which parent company General Motors has been building in one form or another since the fifties. It comes with a variety of different engines, but most intriguing is the 537bhp 6.2-titre V8 in the Maloo LSA, which is now available in UK showrooms badged as a Vauxhall in VXR8 guise. It also delivers 671 Nm of torque, and will cover 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and hit 155mph. These stats cement the Maloo’s place as the fastest commercial vehicle on the planet – and it doesn’t take long to see why. Continue reading “Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo”

Drifting or Carrying? Think Twice – Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo

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One day this might be a collector’s item. I know, it’s a bit of a stretch. Two things, though: almost no one in Europe is going to buy one now, so rarity value is a given, and Holden is ceasing all production at its Melbourne plant, so this beefy ute will be one of the last Oz designed and built cars. You’re still struggling, though, aren’t you?

Continue reading “Drifting or Carrying? Think Twice – Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo”

Vauxhall Mokka X 2017

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If you want a car named after a hot drink you can have this Vaux- hall Mokka or the Suzuki Cappuccino. Unless MG built a Bovril Shooting Brake we don’t know about. Helping it to sound less like a Starbucks order, the Mokka badge has gained an X suffix, which you’ll soon see on the bootlids of Corsa and Astra-sized crossovers.

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As well as a new name, the Mokka X has received updates aimed at smoothing off the old car’s rough edges – its cluttered cabin, uninspiring engines and incongruous exterior styling, to name but a few. Sales of compact SUVs are marching inexorably onward after all – with market share increasing from less than one percent in 2010 to 7.5% in 2015.

Outside, most of the changes have been made around the front of the car, with an Astra-cised bumper and grille arrangement and a new lower section for the rear end.

The old Mokka had a scattered switch-fest of a centre console – we drove one with three ‘Nav’ buttons. Migrating most of the controls to a 7m touchscreen has cured this, and a larger 8in system with sat-nav is an option.

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Previous herd of buttons has been rounded up and corralled in a nice 7in screen

Either way you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus OnStar’s emergency and concierge services.

Niceties such as 18in alloys and LED daytime running lights are also standard, and if you upgrade to the top-of-the-range Elite trim you’ll get leather, tinted rear windows, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

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The 1.4-litre petrol is now available with an extra 12bhp, with six-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive only – well worth the upgrade if you’re considering the latter two options.

It’s alittle less efficient than the lower-powered variant but endows the Mokka X with the power it always needed – it’s quiet too, the gearbox prioritising low revs. That’s not ideal on a spirited drive, and the oddly placed override buttons on the top of the gearshifter don’t exactly deliver in terms of engagement.

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The 4×4 system is handy in inclement weather but it’ll still understeer surprisingly easily in the wet, plus there’s a fair bit of bodyroll. Steering’s good though, accurate and nicely weighted, but offering zero feedback.

Overall this new Mokka X looks and drives (with this engine at least) much better than the old car, so that’s a success. Rivals still offer superior dynamics and styling, but at a cost.

SPECIFICATIONS


Vauxhall Mokka Elite 1.4T 152 auto 4×4

vauxhall-mokka-x-6Price: £25,810
Engine: 1399cc 16v turbocharged, 4-cyl
Power: 151bhp @ 5600rpm
Torque: 181lb ft @ 2200-4400rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph: 9.4sec
Top speed: 120mph
CO2: 150g/km
On sale: October

VERDICT 3/5

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Old Mokka gripes sorted out

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Tweakka – Vauxhall Mokka X

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We say: Vauxhall goes down the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ route

mokka-xThe Mokka was a prompt arrival at the small-crossover party, and over the years acquired more and more rivals. But its business kept growing and it ended last year top of the class in the UK sales league.

Now we have the Mokka X, its mid-life facelift. As it was doing such good business, Vauxhall has an excuse to keep the changes small. Besides, consistent direction helps build brand image. In becoming the X, it’s been given alterations that make it look, inside and out, more like an Astra. Again, cross-car consistency helps solidify a brand.

So we have new headlights (all LED in upper trims) bolted into new wings, a wider grille, and fresh front and rear bumpers. It makes the Mokka look wider and more stable. A new dash encases touchscreens, 7in or 8in depending. OnStar is standard on all models: high-speed in-car wifi, remote breakdown rescue and theft tracking.

The base model has Apple CarPlay/Android Auto to mirror your phone’s navigation and music. The top-level one has that too, but also its own nav, on a hi-def screen with smooth graphics.

The existing engines live on, notably a 1.6 diesel and a 1.4 turbo petrol. Added at the tap is an all-new 1.4 petrol, making 152bhp against the existing one’s 140. It comes with 4WD and an auto ‘box. The 4WD manual and the FWD manual and auto all keep the old 140 engine. The new drivetrain makes only a tiny improvement in economy and none at all an acceleration. And it’s not significantly more refined. Why did they bother?

The Mokka’s chassis was always lumpy, and remains so. Cornering is dull if free of mendacity, and although the ride copes well with rough tracks and urban obstacles, it never settles down on an actual road.

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Verdict: Fairly cheap, family-friendly and quite terrain-capable. But a damp squib for the driver

Still, the cabin is roomy enough for family use (though the boot is tight) and the kids will be loving the wifi too much to care about the ride.

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

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Test car in its final stage of development gives a prviews of the news Insignia’s abilities

The big mainstream hatchback isn’t dead. In fact, the Vauxhall Insignia has always done rather well in the UK. The model is due for replacement next year, which is why we find ourselves having an early drive of the new Insignia Grand Sport (as the liftback will now be called) in validation prototype form, used by engineers to prove components and for management to sign them off at various steps along the way.

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It’s a funny old market segment, this one. Once, it was called the D-segment and in it a Vauxhall Vectra went up against a Ford Mondeo, a Peugeot 407 and a Renault Laguna and you knew where you were. These days, though, the class is dominated by compact executive cars, namely the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Across Europe, the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia is only the third best-selling car among them, behind the 3 Series and C-Class but ahead of the A4.

This time, Vauxhall is pitching the Insignia as “the smartest alternative to premium”. The original Insignia was a biggish car anyway, but it has grown again, to 4897mm long (up by 55mm), with a wheelbase of 2829mm (up by 92mm). That pushes it well into Skoda Superb territory and almost into the Audi A6/Mercedes E-Class’s league. If you choose an Insignia, they say, you’ll get a lot more space for your money.

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The Insignia is based on a new global General Motors platform called E2 and, as with the recent Astra, weight removal is at the core of its aims. The body-in-white is 13%, or 59kg, lighter than that of the old car and typically models are 150kg lighter than their predecessors, like for like. There had already been quite a lot of engine downsizing during the old car’s life, so we’re not talking about going from a 2.2 to a 1.5-litre diesel here.

We’ve tried two versions, both disguised and both with covers all over the interior, but both representative of how the cars will drive. One was a 163bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol with a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive. The other was a 247bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, which as standard has an eight-speed automatic gearboxand four-wheel drive. Bit more of a rare groove, then, that one, unless you’re a CID officer.

The 1.5-litre petrol is a development of the 1.4-litre turbo engine that’s currently in the Astra, so Vauxhall calls the upgrade ‘rightsizing’. Going up by l00cc is recognition of the fact that a 1.4-litre engine just isn’t up to the task of shifting an Insignia around without overworking it, even though you can get a (heavier still) 1.4-litre Insignia today.

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New 1.5-litre petrol engine under that camouflaged bonnet is effective and mostly unobtrusive

More to the point, there will soon be a new European legislative test drive cycle from which a car’s official fuel economy is calculated and this is more likely to represent real-world driving. In actual driving – as our True MPG figures often find – just going smaller and smaller isn’t necessarily the answer, however much it works when you’re optimising for a lab test. So there’s no chance of a 1.0-litre petrol triple for the new Insignia, as there currently is for the Ford Mondeo. The 1.5 petrol is the smallest engine.

Vauxhall expects the meat of sales to still be diesels (they’ll have from 110bhp upwards), but petrols are staging a comeback. Partly that’s in light of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, partly because petrol engines have made big efficiency strides and partly because petrol cars are often cheaper than their diesel equivalents.

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Certainly, it’s pleasing to drive a petrol car that doesn’t feel under-capacity and overwhelmed. Vauxhall says the Insignia 1.5 is 170kg lighter than the outgoing 1.6, which should mean a quoted kerb weight of around 1400kg, which would be remarkable. But right now, I can tell you the car fires to a quiet idle and remains relatively muted through the mid-range, only taking on a hint of gruffness at high revs. The gearshift is slick and positive, too.

You can sit 30mm lower in the new Insignia than in the current car, so there’s a widely adjustable driving position, and the steering is, as with the other controls, positive, responsive and accurate, with a good amount of self-centring.

Similarly, the ride is composed, on passive dampers and with MacPherson struts at the front and a five-linkset-up at the rear. Tyres on the test car were 245/45 Rl8s, so towards the smaller end of whatll be offered, and they helped to give a calm, honest ride quality. An honest dynamism, too. Vauxhall hasn’t set out to make the most agile car, but it’s measured, sensible, not uninvolving and, above all, competitive.

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Vauxhall given the new Insignia measured dynamic responses, rather than gone all out for agility

Less so is the chassis that comes with the 2.0-litre car. The engine is less smooth all through the rev range, and although the eight-speed automatic is also new, it pays to make a lot of the shifting decisions yourself rather than let the gearbox force the engine to lug it out from low revs.

The 2.0 test car had adaptive dampers, which were best left in their middle mode of three. Sport introduces too much jiggle, Tour too much float. Normal does the best passing impression of the standard passive dampers, although it’s less successful than they are, certainly less straightforward and agile, and the ride is choppier, if far from bad.

“Despite the power and the torque vectoring, the 2.0 isn’t some kind of manic Q-car”

The four-wheel drive system is unusual, albeit effective. A propshaft going from the engine to the rear axle is always turning, but there’s no differential back there. Instead, one clutch each side of the centre line, electronically controlled, can hookup power to the rear, within set parameters and by sending more torque to one side than the other, as it sees fit. But despite the power and the torque vectoring, this isn’t some kind of manic Q-car. It’s just a brisk Insignia with more traction.

It’s too soon to say if you should buy a new-generation Insignia. We haven’t even seen the interior fully yet, although there’s as much space in the back as there is in, say, an A6 or Volvo V90.

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A few mainstream manufacturers, like Vauxhall, are in an odd place, wondering what to do with their big saloons, hatchbacks and estates, given people’s predilection for something with a posh badge, or a crossover like the Nissan Qashqai, instead. An eminently sensible solution is to give buyers more than they expected, such as the Insignia’s Superb-plus level of interior room. And on this showing, the car is up to it dynamically, too.

SPECIFICATIONS

New Insignia offers mammoth interior space and a competitive driving experience, depending on the variant


vauxhall-insignia-8Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport 1.5 165PS
Price:
From £23,000 (est)
Engine:
4cyls, 1500cc, turbo, petrol
Power:
163bhp
Torque:
184lb ft
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
Kerb weight: 1
400kg (est)
0-62mph:
8.5sec
Top speed: 1
30mph (est)
Economy:
55mpg (combined, est)
CO2/tax band:
na
Rivals:
Ford Mondeo 1.5T Zetec, Skoda Superb 1.4 TSI SEACT

 

Vauxhall Mokka X 1.4T 140

The Mokka X is the facelifted version of the small Vauxhall SUV that sells extremely well despite not being particularly inspiring to drive. Such a story is typical of cars in a segment that is largely shunned by enthusiasts but lapped up by everybody else. The Mokka counts the Renault Captur and Skoda Yeti among its rivals, and since its launch in 2012 it has consistently been one of the best sellers in its class. Now it has had a facelift and an ‘X’ has been slapped on to the end of its name to indicate that it’s an SUV. Soon the X will adorn every Vauxhall SUV and crossover.

The front grille and rear end have been reworked, there’s a new dashboard inspired by that of the Astra and prices have been hiked by around £800 across the range. The line-up also gets a new, higher-powered 154bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol model that comes with all-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox as standard. The biggest change is inside. The dash has been completely redesigned to rid it of its predecessor’s confusing cluster of buttons. In its place comes Vauxhall’s sleeker and more recent layout.

All-new dashboard is a big improvement; Mokka X is agile enough, but it doesn't steer or ride as well as its main crossover rivals
All-new dashboard is a big improvement; Mokka X is agile enough, but it doesn’t steer or ride as well as its main crossover rivals

As standard in Active trim, it gets a 7.0in touchscreen, OnStar (Vauxhall’s 24/7 emergency assist and concierge service) and DAB radio, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It goes some way to raising the perceived quality of the cabin, which may not match the fit and finish of the Yeti but gives everything else in the class a run for its money.

In terms of practicality, the Mokka X straddles the line between a Captur and a Nissan Juke, offering more room than the Nissan but less than the Renault. There’s plenty of space up front, but it’s pretty cramped in the back. It also has a smaller boot than the Captur, albeit with no load lip.

The Mokka has previously been let down by the way it drives. With this facelift addressing only cosmetic issues, it remains pretty average from behind the wheel. However, the 138bhp version of the 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine powering our test car will be quick enough for most people. It’s sufficiently strong to cope with B-road overtaking and motorway journeys, with power delivered pretty smoothly across the rev band.

It does feel a little flat at low revs, but it’s quieter than the 1.6-litre diesel. This engine is available with the option of an automatic transmission, but the standard six-speed manual ’box is accurate and has a positive throw. Four-wheel drive is available for an extra £1700, so you’re better off sticking with the standard front-wheel drive layout if the extra traction isn’t a necessity.

This engine isn’t outstandingly efficient, though. Claimed fuel economy of 47.1mpg is less than its rivals (although they are slower), and CO2 emissions of 140g/km might put fleet buyers off. Even so, we’d still pointvauxhall-mokkax14t private buyers towards this engine for the best blend of performance, economy and value.

The steering is light, quick and accurate but offers little feedback. There’s plenty of grip and the car feels fairly agile, with body roll kept in check surprisingly well. That said, the ride is pretty crashy over most surfaces. Refinement isn’t great, either, with plenty of wind and road noise at motorway speeds.

Many people have already stumped up for a Mokka, and many more will doubtless do so for the new Mokka X, which is ultimately a more rounded package. Strong finance deals will almost certainly continue to attract buyers, too.

But it is still only average in most departments and it’s more expensive than before for private buyers. For similar money, you could have a Yeti or a Captur, which are roomier and more engaging to drive.

Vauxhall VX220

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It’s not often you can accuse a car of being too good. When Vauxhall finally decided to create a small sports car, it approached the project with a gusto belying the timidity of the brand image. The VX220 took all its cues from the Lotus Elise, already established as a highly successful racer, and improved on them. Take it as a compliment to Lotus.

Continue reading “Vauxhall VX220”