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New Insignia has fleet sales soaring 

VAUXHALL launched its new Insignia last June and it’s no coincidence that the model’s fleet sales were up by more than 50 per cent in the second half of 2013 over the first six months of the year.

At first glance there doesn’t appear to be much of an exterior difference from the model it replaces but designers and engineers have been clever in their styling changes.

And these have made it the most aerodynamic car in its class – in the world – as well as producing class-leading CO2 emissions.

Another huge incentive for buyers is the attractive pricing, starting at £16,279 and nearly £2,000 LESS than outgoing models.

New extended under-body covers, wider front spoiler lips, new tail lamp housings and an integrated rear deck lid spoiler have all contributed to give the Insignia its slippery shape.

My test car stood out with its power red colour and settling in behind the driving wheel I was impressed with the re-designed centre console and instrument cluster, giving it a fresh, high-tech look and with fewer buttons.

It also had an eight-inch infotainment display with a simple-to-use touch-screen for controlling satnav, radio, phone and other features.

This £22,334-priced five-door hatch model – a Tech Line 2.0CDTi 16v ecoFlex – also featured one of four new engines in the range.

The 138bhp diesel unit achieves CO2 emissions of 98g/km and is capable of astonishing combined fuel economy of 76.3mpg, 62.8mpg urban and 88.3mpg extra urban.

Stop/start technology and an active front air shutter in the lower front grille in this model help to produce these figures.

High-mileage owners won’t have to pull in for too many fuel stops with a full tank capable of travelling a distance of 1,175 miles.

I thought the engine was a little noisy at tickover but other than that it performed well going up and down the six-speed manual gearbox.

Acceleration was smart enough, going from start to 60mph in 10.5 seconds, and with a top speed of 127mph it cruised smoothly and quietly at motorway speeds.

With improvements made to suspension and steering, ride comfort was good, even over some uneven surfaces, and handling was sharp enough out in the country.

You get a high level of standard equipment in all trims with entry-model spec including LED daytime running lights, leather-covered steering wheel, cruise control, electric lumber and height adjustment on driver’s seat, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, CD/MP3 player, digital radio, and Bluetooth.

Safety and security features include electronic stability control, remote control security alarm and deadlock and six airbags.

There’s a lot to like in this latest Insignia and while fleet buyers account for the bulk of its sales – 80 per cent – this is a model well worth dropping into the showroom and having a test drive in.

Since its launch 2008, Insignia has been a big player for Vauxhall in the mid-size sector and the latest streamlined version has the quality to attract even more buyers.