Roomy SUV with attitude

Motoring Posted 17/10/17
Bentley Bentayga and Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

Glamour model: Bentley Bentayga

If anyone needed evidence of just how far the onward march of the pumped-up, muscled-stance, so-called “sports utility vehicle” has progressed in the car world, then here it is. Even Bentley, once the epitome of old-world style and elegance, now has an SUV in its range.

The Bentayga could not exactly be described as beautiful, but it is certainly impressive: just over 5.1 metres of steroidal metal encasing a limousine-worthy cabin.

It has a lot of muscle. Under that tall bonnet is a four-litre, 32-valve V8 diesel engine, equipped with twin turbochargers. It packs a mighty punch, with a 429 bhp power output, roughly quadruple that of a typical mid-size family car.

Although it weighs in at just over two-and-a-half tonnes, the Bentayga is capable of sprinting from a standing start to 62mph in just under five seconds, a sports car-quick time for a car that weighs the equivalent of a small truck. Take it on a trip to a derestricted German autobahn, and you could see 168mph on the speedo.

It has power delivery to all four wheels, which is more relevant to grippily planted high performance than to any real intention of 4x4 off-roadery. Well, would you go mud-plugging in a car with a £139,000 price tag?

You may not warm to its aesthetics, but the Bentayga does have its admirers. It is a roomy five-seater with a big boot and it is even capable of towing up to three-and-a-half tonnes of trailer weight. It drives with highly civilised panache and gliding comfort. As a car for a company boss keen to show how well the firm is doing, it’s a very emphatic statement of business success.

Business savvy: Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

Vauxhall is at a pivotal point of change. It has been newly acquired, along with Opel, as part of the General Motors Europe package bought by the Peugeot-Citroen PSA Group. Along with French ownership comes some rational business practicality of shared engines and chassis under-structures.

So what next for Vauxhall? That will become clearer over the next few months, but some change is inevitable. Will the company headquarters move from Luton to Coventry, where the UK base of Peugeot-Citroen-DS is sited? How will the model range morph into the PSA fold? That also remains to be seen.

It is timely that the company’s mainstream business model, the Insignia, has just undergone a major update. Goodbye old Insignia, hello new Insignia Grand Sport. It is a welcome replacement. The Insignia has long punched a little below its weight against key rivals, notably the very capable Ford Mondeo and the excellent Volkswagen Passat. Not any longer.

It is a pleasant surprise to experience the difference Vauxhall has made to the Insignia in its new, somewhat grandly titled Grand Sport form. The now predecessor Insignia had too much fussy detailing, a not particularly ergonomic cabin and a rather ordinary driving calibre.

The new one is much improved all round and gives the now-ageing Mondeo a very close run as the large, D-size hatchback most worthy of a place in the company car park. The Insignia Grand Sport’s freshly smoothed-off body lines are a tribute to the work of design chief Mark Adams and the way the car drives shows that the engineering team have addressed the old car’s issues very effectively. It is decidedly more of a “driver’s car” than the old model.

This is the key business-savvy version: the SRi VX-Line Nav with a two-litre BlueInjection diesel engine. It packs a 168 bhp punch, zips to 62 mph in 8.2 seconds and is capable of 140 mph. It has a combined fuel figure of 54.3 mpg, with 136 g/km CO2, and comes well equipped for the £23,800 price.

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