Badge is battling the big boys

YOU could turn red in the face trying to utter the full model name of the Vauxhall on test today; better to pause for breath halfway through.

And bet on it, there are people who have to pick from a company car approved list who are glad the Insignia is such a mouthful; it makes it easier to know when you’re driving a better car than the chap at the desk next door.

Which must be a compelling reason for Vauxhall to offer such an expensive (uncomfortably close to £38,000, with a few choice options) version: it’s potentially more profitable.

That is, of course, if enough people can be persuaded to spend a sum that would alternatively land a pretty good car with a prestige badge instead of a rather more hum-drum Vauxhall. And that might be a pity. For beneath a badge that can’t compete with the likes of Audi and BMW, lurks a car of genuine competence. Better than that, in some respects.

And not so good in others, where the Vauxhall engineers have a little work left to put their car up there with the best.

But first, to deconstruct the model description. The BiTurbo bit signifies that the diesel engine – the most potent ever in a Vauxhall – uses a little turbocharger to boost power at low speed and a bigger one for higher speed thrills (or a mid-range mixture of both).

It means a car as big as the Insignia can really shift when provoked, especially when its rolling and you need to overtake swiftly. Pity the engine’s growl at start up never quite melds into the background, though.

The 16v means (you’ve guessed) 16 valves in the engine, while the SRi and VX-Line bits describe the standard fixtures and fittings an owner can expect.

They range from big alloy wheels to cruise control, climate control and a nasty automatic parking brake that often held so hard when you tried to drive away that the car felt on the edge of a stall.

Lowered and stiffened suspension is part of the package too but, even with the big wheels the car rides nicely, thanks to something called FlexRide that keeps things supple (and can be asked to turn sportier or softer at the push of a button). Next along the model line description is 4x4; which means power can be rapidly and automatically shifted rearward if the front wheels scrabble for grip. That’s likely to be rare, even with a potent engine at work, and most of the time the car will be a conventional front-wheel driver.

The final descriptor of Sports Tourer is Vauxhall’s way of avoiding the words ‘estate car’ as a bit musty and dated. But it’s an estate all right, and one with a huge luggage bay easily accessed across a flat loading lip.

I was surprised that a sat nav system costs £1,200 extra and makes an already expensive car all the more so. Leather trim would be good at no extra cost too, but adds £1,145 to the bill if ordered on the car.

One option I wouldn’t mind paying for is the £370 asked for a powered tailgate.

It opens and closes at the push of a button in the driver’s door, or from the driver’s key fob and makes parking the weekly shop in the rain a little less stressful.

Even so, this is an Insignia model destined to remain a rare car after the company fleet manager does the sums.