TAD DAVISON on swapping his trusty 2012 Astra for an Insignia SRi Nav 2.0 CDTi (140 bhp) ecoFLEX 2015 model – and loving it.

When the time came to replace our ultra-faithful 2012 Vauxhall Astra SRi 2.0 CDTi, my wife and I were in something of a dilemma. The car had done everything we ever asked of it and performed its task flawlessly. It was economical, comfortable, and good-looking, yet it would pull like a train when commanded to do so, and it was quick.

A few years ago, we had a test drive in an Insignia, and with the advent of the new and improved version, we decided to take another look. And it turned out to be a revelation: the new model exemplifies the difference between a good car, and a great car.

Updated in 2013, the new car looks better, drives better, rides better, sounds quieter and is better equipped than its predecessor. And in the case of the 140PS ecoFLEX version that we chose, it is VERY competitive in terms of fuel efficiency.

My wife and I opted for the SRi specification, choosing 18-inch wheels for better road-holding. Everything else was to the standard SRi spec, including front fog lights, rear privacy glass, electric rear windows, climate control, automatic headlights with LED daytime running lights, and a voice-activated touch-screen sat nav infotainment centre with Bluetooth.

On the initial cold start-up, one can hear the engine but its tone is reassuringly subdued. And just like the Astra 2-litre CDTi, once under way, everything quietens down to the point where you would hardly notice the car had a diesel engine under the bonnet at all.

On the motorway, the 140PS ecoFLEX Insignia comes into its own and shows its true pedigree. The higher gearing makes this a mile-eating cruiser, and it is brilliant at its task, smooth, and very quiet. To be clear, it isn’t a racing car, but nor is it a slouch. On the original road test, I accelerated in fourth gear from 40mph uphill with three adult occupants, and the 140PS engine acquitted itself admirably. It was up to 70mph within six wags of a dog’s tail. The engine just pulled cleanly and evenly all the way.

“When you get something this quiet, this good to look at, this good to drive, this practical, and this economical, you can’t help but feel a kinship with it”

Most tastes and needs are well-catered for by the Insignia’s impressive range of trim which ventures from the entry-level Design, all the way up to the classy Elite. And the equally impressive range of engines will suit those who want to be economy conscious, or to be moved along very rapidly, with a whole host of combinations and permutations in between.

When you get something this quiet, this good to look at, this good to drive, this practical, and this economical, you can’t help but feel a kinship with it, and we certainly feel we made the right choice.

Tad Davison
Cambridge