Twists and turns
On roads where there's no solid wall of concrete to separate you from the oncoming traffic going in the other direction, Opel Insignia proves to be just as good as it is on fast carriageways. You'd expect it to wallow, fret and understeer, but it does not. You don't feel the long wheelbase, the extra tail or anything alike. The only downside is that you don't have too much power to arrow out of turns, so you have to be snappy on the throttle and gear changes, to make the most of it. Still, the CDTI will not respond lightning fast, and you might find yourself with a wry grimace on your face, wondering why the delivery of power takes so long.
The steering poses no problem, and you get a lot more feel than in Astra, in fact. The tires could play a factor really. Like its smaller sister, the grip is quite good. At no point did I feel unsafe in Insignia, and it ate corners with the grace of much smaller, shorter and lighter cars. Throw in some happy revving at low speed, and it's all good. Sure, more brute strength is always welcome, but still, the 120 HP unit is quite adequate for the task, especially considering the fact it's meant to transport families around.
The seats could benefit from more lateral support here, though. After the superb Recaros in Corsa OPC, nothing feels quite as good really. Those are divine chairs, and the ones in Insignia, while cleverly good at neutralizing pain and discomfort without looking amazing, can be a little more huggy touchy feely. I also wonder how bigger tires would affect the driving characteristics. Insignia looks bulky in its default set, so some rubber with a wider track, more handsome diameter and a lower profile, plus nicer alloys would definitely improve the looks, but do they affect the quality of the ride and handling? We shall never know.
Anyhow, Opel Insignia surmounted the challenge well. Neither the rain nor heat did deter it from climbing the narrow, twisty roads, and often, I was forced to ease off, because the bigger and much nicer cars in front of me could not keep up a decent pace. Then, potholes and scrubbed asphalt were just tiny annoyances, eaten away by the clever suspension. The seats remained fairly decent. The ergonomy of your near surrounding is well laid out. Your left foot, while idle, has a good and comfortable rest to the side of the clunch, in perfect symmetry with the right one. It's neither too straight, nor too bent, and you don't have to waste your ATP keeping your muscles tensed. Lovely jubbly.
Speaking of country lanes, if you have a clever GPS - hint, Nokia - then you might want to listen to it, because it can help you avoid congestion in tiny rural places and coastal towns overcrowded with confused, anxious tourists looking all too lost driving 10 km/h below the stated speed limits, and hit some less known, almost Borat-style country paths, where Ladas, tractors and such like implements you'd see in a game like ArmA abide.
Here, with no cars to pester you, save for occasional locals, who know their business, you'll be able to enjoy yourself at deceptively low speeds that bring out the best in the Opel chassis and suspension engineering. Tons of tidy turns and dips through green fields and Alice in Wonderland like forest tunnels, with the second through fourth gear taking most of your attention. Day and night, you floor it hard, then quickly shift, then bleed the speed, shift down, turn, brake a little, jerkily swerve the steering rack for a touch of weight distribution, then repeat a few hundred times until you're grinning madly like a boy. To wit, a beautiful video demonstration: