Vauxhall Insignia 1.6 Turbo SRi Nav
Sports Tourer version shares the saloon and hatch front end
- Sharp, executive styling
- Nimble handling belies size
- Rear headroom much better than hatch and saloon
- Cleverly designed rear end
- Occasional rattles let down otherwise excellent refinement
- Real world fuel economy less impressive than on paper
- Angular rear hard to judge when reversing
- Steering borders on too light
Following the excellent reception for the saloon and hatchback versions of the Insignia, the company has unveiled its Sports Tourer estate model. The new design direction is accompanied by some new engines, too, all of which is intended to make the model more enticing to both the business and private buyer.
Having put so much effort into designing a model that moved the game on from the Vectra, it was always unlikely that Vauxhall would let the side down by producing a dowdy estate version of the new Insignia. The Sports Tourer does not disappoint, with sharp, executive styling designed to compete at a more premium level than its predecessor. Retaining current customers while conquesting drivers from the upper segments is Vauxhall's aim.
Targetting practicality and usability as opposed to outright volume, Vauxhall's designers have crafted a gigantic boot door that incorporates much of the rear end including the light units. In keeping with regulations, an extra set of lights have been included inside the boot, revealed when the door is opened either manually or using the automatic function. The space it uncovers is uniform in shape and perfect for easy loading. The design means the model can accept luggage beyond what appears to be the end of the boot space.
The first model to make use of Vauxhall's new 1.6-litre turbocharged unit, the Insignia Sports Tourer is available with a total of six engines. The four petrol units and two diesel options are set to be joined by a seventh later in 2009. The 188bhp twin-turbo will be the first diesel to combine with Vauxhall's adaptive four-wheel drive system. With five trim levels available, there's plenty of choice for private buyers and business users alike.
Inside, the estate rear has opened up a little extra headroom for rear passengers, but little else has changed from the saloon and hatchback versions. Depending on trim level, interiors vary from basic to luxurious, but all feature the same inherent comfort. A wrap around dashboard, high level of standard equipment and refined ride qualities are all designed to appeal to drivers usually found behind a more up-market badge.
Our verdict on the Vauxhall Insignia 1.6 Turbo SRi Nav
The Insignia Sports Tourer's smart styling is backed up by an inventive rear, decent quality and a pleasant experience for driver and passengers. As a shift away from the more down-market image of its Vectra predecessor it's a huge success and should succeed in attracting customers away from the premium brands with a combination of style and greater affordability.
The 1.6-litre turbo unit is part of a concerted effort to offer increased power alongside lower fuel consumption and emissions from its engines. The unit provides impressive performance for its size and on paper efficiency means lower taxation rates for private and business users. On the road, it's harder to achieve the stated fuel consumption, however. Insurance ratings should be reasonable due to high parts availability and clever design like the cheap to replace plastic rear lower assembly.
Space and practicality
Clearly, the estate rear of the Sports Tourer model comes with practical advantages in terms of load space. The cleverly designed rear makes the additional room particularly easy to access and make use of. The estate body also removes the sloping roofline that limits headroom in the rear of the saloon and hatchback making the Sports Tourer feel more spacious. Legroom is very good and there's plenty of storage available in the front of the cabin for oddments.
Controls and display
The Insignia's spread of buttons can be daunting at first, particularly because of the small lettering, but once familiar with the layout it all makes sense. Additional controls for the audio can be found on the steering wheel along with cruise control settings, and sat-nav controls mounted next to the armrest are very useful. The instrument layout is traditional and concise and aided by the LCD panel for the comprehensive trip computer. Some of the controls, such as the rear windscreen wiper, are less traditionally but still sensibly positioned and chrome finish to the knobs and bezels is a nice touch.
With a high degree of refinement the Insignia is an inherently comfortable car to travel in. As a high speed motorway cruiser it can rival the premium contenders. The 1.6-litre turbo unit is naturally quieter than the 2.0-litre diesel variant that shares the same output and the Insignia's capable chassis rides the bumps very well. The SRi model is extremely well equipped with full electrics that add to the comfort levels including two-stage auto boot opening, but the lesser specification models are comfortable in their own right thanks to shapely and supportive seats and great refinement.
The Insignia maintains a strong standard of security with remote central deadlocking, alarm and immobiliser. Covered storage in the front armrest, glovebox and under the boot floor means valuables can be kept out of sight.
Standard ESP along with seat-side, curtain and front airbags offer an excellent basic safety package in the Insignia. This complimented by a raft of extraneous aids such as auto lights and wipers that make the process of driving less demanding. Built to offer a high level of protection in the event of a crash, owners should have few qualms about carrying precious loads.
The Insignia Sports Tourer gives little impression of its size once behind the wheel and is capable of providing a responsive and involving driving experience. This can be tempered a little by steering that occasionally feels too light, but there's no doubting the quality of the chassis or the surefooted handling. The 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine offers very impressive performance for its size. The punchy delivery can spin the wheels if too aggressive, but for in-gear acceleration it's more than acceptable.
Family car appeal
An excellent family car thanks to its roomy and practical interior, the Insignia Sports Tourer will work beautifully as a business car from nine to five and a family vehicle on evening and weekend duty. Able to comfortably seat a growing family of five, it's an adaptable and stylish choice.
First car appeal
The Insignia Sports Tourer is not a vehicle targeted at the first time car buyer. More suitable models can be found elsewhere in the Vauxhall range.
Quality and image
The Insignia is a concerted effort on the part of Vauxhall to move away from the dowdy image that haunted the Vectra. A more upmarket affair in terms of styling, the Insignia Sports Tourer builds on the excellent reception for the saloon and hatch variants with a stylish design with plenty of road presence and far greater kerb appeal than its predecessor. Material quality is good and build quality seems strong, although light rattles can persist from within the cabin.
A well proportioned car, there are few issues with accessing the front or rear passenger sections of the Insignia Sports Tourer. Greater headroom makes the rear less restrictive for entry. The huge tailgate means assess to the boot space is unhindered and a power-tailgate option makes it truly effortless to get items in and out.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
As the name suggests, the SRi Nav model comes with sat-nav as standard. The colour display is effectively shielded from glare and additional controls mounted between the armrest and gear lever are very useful. The high power sound system delivers excellent quality, although the swathe of buttons and knobs to control it takes some getting used to.
Colours and trim
Thanks to some unusual design elements, the Insignia Sports Tourer looks at its best in mid-tones such as greys or reds. The darker shades can reflect the light awkwardly, making it look less handsome. The large alloy wheels of the upper trim levels suit the bulky design better than some of the smaller wheel options and the executive styling of the interior carries leather, wood and metal trim well. Two tone plastics also give the model a more luxurious air.
Without the aid of parking sensors, it can be difficult to judge the positioning of the Insignia Sports Tourer's bulbous rear end. The view out of the rear window is also restricted by its arched shape. For a large car it is highly manoeuvrable, but its size makes it less well suited to tight car parks than some.
Space saver fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.6-litre (158bhp); 1.8-litre (138bhp); 2.0-litre (217bhp); 2.8-litre (256bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.0-litre 128bhp); 2.0-litre (158bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, six-speed automatic gearbox with manual override. Trim levels: S, Exclusiv, SE, Elite, SRi.
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