The first generation Opel Insignia proved to be popular amongst the masses since its launch in 2008. Since then, Opel have produced over 940,000 units of the Insignia and they managed to claim the title of European Car of the Year in 2009. As this model began to become somewhat dated the new Monza concept was designed in 2013 giving customers the opportunity to see what exactly the future would hold for the Insignia.

The new Insignia has been designed on an entirely new architecture which has resulted in a lighter and more spacious car being produced. The wheelbase has been extended while overhangs have been shortened. This is most evident when you sit in and observe the increases in legroom in both the front and the rear seating. The seating positions have also been lowered which has meant that the overall height of the new Insignia Grand Sport has now been reduced by 29mm.

What you now also get from the new Insignia Grand Sport is a more sleek sporty profile to the exterior. The now signature headlamps of the Insignia have been given a refresh and appear more refined with the option of upgrading to the new Intellilux LED lighting matrix which comprises of 32 light sources on high beam function and can produce light up to 400 metres on high beam also. The front bumper and grille have also been reconfigured in order to produce a sharper and more aerodynamic front.

As you sit into the new Insignia Grand Sport you will find that whilst a lot of the switch gear being utilised is familiar from the previous model it has all been refreshed and everything is now directed towards the driver and de-cluttered. This is a massive step forward as in previous Opel models you would get dizzy counting just how many buttons were in front of the driver. Given the fact that the seating has been lowered some 30mm in the front seats you now get a more engaging driving position whilst the head up display ensures that all of the relevant driving information is available in your line of sight reducing the amount of time you spend taking your eye off the road.

The latest Intellilink system is also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. When it comes to boot space, the opening into the boot are has been reconfigured in order to reduce the load lip and increase the width of the load area in order to make loading more bulky items easier. Boot space stands at 490 litres which increases up to 1,450 litres with the rear seats folded down.

The new Insignia Grand Sport will be available with a choice of both petrol and diesel engines. For those that decide to go down the petrol route there are two engines with a newly developed 1.5 turbo petrol option producing either 140hp or 165hp depending on your choice with the latter also available with a six speed automatic transmission. There is also a 2.0 turbo petrol option with 260hp paired with an 8 speed automatic transmission and Opel’s intelligent All-Wheel-Drive with torque vectoring which Opel claim to be the most sophisticated system in its class.

If you opt for the diesel engine range you can choose from the 1.6 turbo diesel 110hp or 136hp or you can go for the more powerful 2.0 turbo diesel option with a power output of 170hp. The All-Wheel-Drive system is also available with the diesel variant in the 2.0 litre turbo diesel guise paired with a six speed manual transmission.

Thanks to the way in which the new Insignia Grand Sport has been designed with lightweight materials and the increase in the wheelbase it now feels very well planted on the road. Body roll on cornering is almost non-existent and it is capable of absorbing most surfaces which are thrown at it while the feedback from the steering is well above average. The overall ride comfort is very well matched to the new Insignia Grand Sport.

The first engine which I had the opportunity to test was the 2.0 turbo petrol model paired with the 8 speed automatic transmission and the All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) system. Given that the majority of the driving on this leg involved motorway the requirement for the AWD system wasn’t really there however the 2.0 turbo petrol engine with 260hp was called upon as the Autobahn approached. This engine performs very well and the pairing with the 8-speed automatic transmission appears to have been very well developed. Manual gear selection is also available along with paddle shifts on the steering wheel.

The second engine which I had the opportunity to test was the 2.0 turbo diesel with 170hp and 400Nm of torque paired with a 6-speed manual transmission. This engine exceeded my expectations especially considering the winding route which took over the second part of my journey. The throttle response and low rev power from the 2.0 litre power-plant impressed me along with the set up of the gear ratios in the 6-speed gearbox. Based on information provided by Opel, this particular engine will accelerate from 0 – 100 km/hr in 8.7 seconds which isn’t going to set the world alight but it is reasonable for a large family car.

Overall, all of the changes and additions that have been made to the 2nd generation Insignia are positive. It now looks sleeker and sportier and the interior space has been increased and become more driver orientated. If I was to rank it amongst its competition I would put it up towards the higher end of the top 5. Whilst it may not be as refined as the Skoda Superb or the Volkswagen Passat it still has the edge when it comes to the like of the Hyundai i40, Toyota Avensis or the Ford Mondeo.

We can expect to see the new Opel Insignia Grand Sport arrive in Ireland by mid-June of this year on time for the 172 registration period with prices starting from €27,350. Standard spec available from base trim will include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic lighting control, keyless entry and start, air conditioning, cruise control, leather covered steering wheel, 7-inch colour touch screen with Intellilink audio system, Opel On-Star personal assistant with Wi-Fi, Electronic Stability Programme, ABS, Six airbags and ISOFIX on all three rear seats.