New car review

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer review

Vauxhall ups its game to fend off attacks from all sides

Summary

The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer is improved in looks, practicality and tech, while the price makes it very good value for money.
Design
8.0
Performance
7.0
Handling
7.0
Economy
7.0
Value
9.0

Summary

The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer is improved in looks, practicality and tech, while the price makes it very good value for money.

60-second summary

What is it?
Estate version of latest large fleet favourite

Key features
New look, more space, more technology

Our view
The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer is improved in looks, practicality and tech, while the price makes it very good value for money.

It’s a welcome addition to the traditional estate sector for buyers who need or want a hard working load-lugger rather than a lifestyle SUV.

Similar cars
Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat, Skoda Superb

Full review

Introduction

The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer is the second, estate version of the brand’s latest large-car offering for a market dominated by fleet drivers, and it launches at a time when that market is under attack on two flanks.

Firstly, buyers are abandoning what are known as D-segment cars in droves, in favour of more imposing and muscular crossovers. And those that are not swayed by such vehicles are being tempted by estates from the likes of Audi and BMW as the premium manufacturers target the mainstream market.

So Vauxhall has had to up its game, and generally it has done so. This new Insignia is a distinct improvement on the car that it replaces.

The estate-bodied Sports Tourer goes on sale just after the five-door Insignia Grand Sport, that arrived in showrooms in May, and a third, off-road styled Country Tourer model is set to be unveiled in September. Vauxhall personnel at the Sports Tourer launch event also hinted at a fourth, as-yet-unnamed derivative to come.

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer in front of a Boeing 747
This new Insignia is a distinct improvement on the car that it replaces.

Exterior and interior design

The previous Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer boasted a steeply raking roofline which attracted more comments about the space it compromised rather than any sharpness in styling. The new car’s look is based on the Monza concept of 2013 – as a result, it has an exterior profile that is more dynamic, and still retains that impression of a raked rear end, but it also answers the space criticism.

At just under five metres end to end, the car is only slightly longer than its predecessor, but it looks huge, and the latest platform ensures it makes the most of its dimensions. The wheelbase is extended to just over 2.8m, the front overhang shortened by 3cm, and the roof also dropped by 3cm. Combined with the silver finish roof rails, this gives the car far more purposeful, aerodynamic visuals, while the saving up to 200kg in weight, with obvious benefits in efficiency and handling.

Meanwhile, the boot adds a bold rear sweep to the car, because it has been extended by a significant 10cm. This bumps up luggage capacity, which now measures 560 litres with the seats up and 1,665 litres with them down. As well as being some 135 litres more than its predecessor, it’s also 60 litres more than one can get in a Ford Mondeo estate, though still overshadowed by the gargantuan boot of the Volkswagen Passat estate.

Inside is a definite step up from previously and one of the highlights of the newcomer. There is plenty of space, even in the rear. The external impression of a downwards-raking roof does not appear to compromise headroom.

Fit and finish, meanwhile has a much more premium feel. The driver’s environment is well laid-out, all the important controls mounted on a sweeping dash that curves around the driver. The infotainment touchscreen is integrated into the console, rather than poking upwards from it as appears to be an increasing trend these days, and a pleasing economy of buttons promotes a decluttered feel.

Powertrains

A six-strong engine range is available for the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer. Petrol fans have the option of a new 1.5-litre turbo with either 140 or 165hp, and a 260hp 2.0-litre also combined with all-wheel drive.

Vauxhall expects great things of the turbocharged four-cylinder 1.5-litre unit – one of a family of new, all-aluminium small capacity engines with direct injection, it promises significant gains in performance, efficiency and refinement.

For the diesel market that has traditionally dominated Insignia sales, the choice is between 1.6-litre units of 110 or 136hp and a 170hp 2.0-litre. Standard transmission is a six-speed manual, while the previous six-speed auto has made way for an all-new eight-speed unit.

At the launch, Vauxhall personnel did hint that the growing backlash against diesel engines is beginning to enter into their market projections. However the vast majority of Insignia sales are company cars, a diesel-dominated sector, and any changes in buying habits would be slowest to take effect in this market governed by fixed new-car ordering cycles.

On the road

At the UK launch event, The Car Expert drove cars equipped with the new 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine, in its more powerful 165hp incarnation, and the entry-level 110hp diesel.

The petrol unit is impressive, overall. It remains refined even when under hard acceleration, but that hard acceleration does not feel very eager, even the base-level diesel appearing more potent.

On the road the Insignia rides reasonably confidently, feeling slightly on the soft side but absorbing most of the bumps as a result. Road noise can be a little intrusive at higher speeds, where the not-so-firm chassis is a little less assured.

In corners, the car displays plenty of grip, but again the softer setup does induce a little body roll, though not to significant levels.

Equipment

Vauxhall talks up the wide range of new technology available in the Insignia, but perhaps the greatest headline is the price of the car. Starting from £18,685 (with the 140hp petrol engine), the entry-level Design model is quite simply a bargain buy.

Standard equipment, meanwhile, includes the OnStar assistance service with such features as alerting emergency services when it senses the car has been involved in a crash, a wi-fi hotspot and control through a smartphone app.

Design models are fitted with the version of the Intellilink audio system with a seven-inch touchscreen, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth. There are seven trim levels to choose from, with all bar Design and SRi including satnav on an eight-inch touchscreen. Other new technology in the range includes LED matrix lighting, lane-keeping assistant and an effective head-up display.

Summary

The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer will never be perceived to be as attractive as some of its German and even Japanese rivals. But Vauxhall has done an excellent job in addressing the car’s deficiencies, particularly in cargo capacity, while significantly improving the package as a whole.

The car looks better than its predecessor, offers an interior of higher quality and comes with as much latest technology as its rivals. Couple all this with the price and the Insignia Sports Tourer is a serious contender in its market.

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer rear
The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer is a serious contender in its market.

Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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