Vauxhall Insignia Review

Find out more about the Vauxhall Insignia in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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3
Out of 5

Pros

  • Excellent value for money
  • High levels of interior space and comfort
  • Surprisingly involving drive

Cons

  • Build quality can be patchy
  • Some electrical niggles have arisen with older cars
  • Not as attractive as rivals
  • MPG

    39 - 64

  • CO2

    116 - 188 g/km

History

The Vauxhall Insignia first appeared on UK roads in 2008. It has since undergone just one major facelift, which attempted to update it.

Sitting in a competitive saloon car segment, the Insignia goes up against rivals like the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb. Able to offer a good range of engines and trim levels, it’s easy to understand why the Insignia has been so popular since it was first launched.

It’s also able to offer a surprisingly sporty drive, ensuring that the Insignia isn’t relegated to motorway slogs.

Not only is the Insignia available with a good range of engines, but it’s also able to be specified as an estate in Sports Tourer specification. This gives something to those drivers who want a little more practicality in their Insignia.

The Insignia does make for an excellent long-distance driver, with its comfortable ride affording it a good level of refinement. There’s also a range-topping VXR version, meaning that if you’re after a high-performance model, that’s provided too.

Latest model

Because the Insignia is a relatively new car for Vauxhall, there haven’t been too many changes to it since it was first released.

However, it was given a facelift in 2013, which brought with it additional styling touches as well as a greater amount of standard equipment and technology.

Even base cars get Bluetooth connectivity, 17-inch wheels and electronic climate control. This means that even if you’re looking to buy a low-specification car, you’re not going to be short-changed in terms of technology.

Of course, top-end VXR cars get all of the bells and whistles, as a well as a powerful engine that allows it to reach 60mph in just 6.0 seconds. It’s certainly no slouch, considering its size and weight.

Value for money

The Insignia offers a lot of car for the money, with plenty of equipment. However, a similar condition afflicts it as it does other Vauxhall cars – due to high volume numbers, residual values aren’t the best. As such, you can get a 2011 model for around £2,000 on the used market – though expect these to be high-mileage examples. It’s worth remembering if you’re planning on buying a brand new car though, as it’ll mean your car’s worth will drop considerably as it rolls off the forecourt.

If your heart is set of a new car though, the Insignia range starts at £18,550. These cars benefit from Bluetooth connectivity, 17-inch alloy wheels and automatic lighting control. Despite being at the lower end of the range, the base Insignia represents excellent value for money. It’s also a smart business car, with low-emission engines making it a popular choice for company car users.

Looks and image

There’s no denying that the Insignia is a good-looking car, with plenty of unique styling touches that help it stand out from the crowd. Higher-spec cars benefit from larger 18-inch alloy wheels which give it a sporty appearance, though do of course affect the Insignia’s ride quality.

The Insignia was a completely new range for Vauxhall, giving private and business drivers another option to the traditional German rivals.

The interior of the Insignia has been well-thought out, with a touchscreen display giving quick access to media functions, as well as phone controls and satellite navigation. All cars come with steering wheel-mounted controls too, which allows you to change various elements of the car without having to take your hands away from the wheel. It’s a pleasant place to be, and one which is a pleasure to be in – no matter how long the journey.

Updated cars gained chassis changes, which made the Insignia a more comfortable place to be. Changes to the car’s suspension set up mean that it now irons out more bumps than before, which makes for a far more refined ride than the car it replaces. However, in terms of a sporting drive the Insignia falls short of rivals, with cars like the Ford Mondeo giving more driver involvement than the plucky Vauxhall.

Space and practicality

As one of the larger cars in its class, the Insignia – unsurprisingly – is able to offer a fair amount of boot and interior space. It’s slightly longer than a Volkswagen Passat, though it still falls short it terms of length to the Ford Mondeo. That said, it’s perfectly well equipped to seat three adults in the back, with plenty of legroom on offer – though taller passengers may find their headroom impaired slightly by the sloping roofline.

In standard hatch form, the Insignia offers 530 litres of boot space with all rear seats folded up. Put them down, and this space grows to 1,470 litres. Those seats split 60:40 too, which allows for a more flexible storage solution.

Go for the Sports Tourer option and the luggage space figures do rise, though not by as much as you’d expect – with 540 litres offered with the seats raised, and 1,530 litres with them down. As such, there isn’t as much of a space advantage with the estate car as you’d think.

There are, however, plenty of storage option inside the car with all manner of cubbies providing areas for the clutter that tends to accumulate within cars of this size.

Engines

There’s a good variety of engines available with the Insignia, ensuring that there’s a powerplant for everyone. At the bottom of the range sits a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit, which is capable of returning up to 53.3mpg combined, while emitting a respectable 124g/km CO2.

Despite being small in capacity, it’ll hit 60mph in just over 10 seconds, which isn’t half bad for an engine of this size.

Diesel engines make up the bulk of the offerings, with an entry oil-burner coming in the form of a 1.6-litre turbocharged unit. Fitted with ecoFlex technology, it’s exceptionally efficient and is able to offer up to 68.9mpg while emitting just 109g/km CO2. It also produced 134bhp, allowing it to reach 60mph in a respectable 10.7 seconds.

That engine is also available with an automatic gearbox, though this does of course affect efficiency figures.

A standard 2.0-litre diesel is also available, with this offering 167bhp and a 0-60mph time of just 9.2 seconds. You’ll still see 65.7mpg combined however, as well as 114g/km CO2. This is available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

The most powerful car in the range comes in the form of the Insignia VXR. Powered by a 2.8-litre turbocharged V6, it can reach 60mph in just 6.2 seconds – and makes it the ideal option for those looking for a high-performance Insignia versions.

Running costs

Running costs for the Insignia won’t be astronomical by any measure, though you will of course encounter higher charges for the top VXR models. Fuel economy is decent across the board and for all engines, which means you won’t be visiting the petrol station all that often. Consumables like tyres and brakes shouldn’t prove too much of a headache to replace, while servicing costs will be lower than those found with more ‘premium’ rivals.

Things to look out for

Overall, the Insignia has had a remarkably good run in terms of reliability. There have only been four major recalls since it was launched, with a steering wheel airbag deployment issue arising in 2010, and the car’s window anti-trap function suffering a suspected problem in 2011.

Sports Tourer cars were issued with a recall in 2015 after it was found that the car’s tailgate could drop abruptly after it was opened, and in July 2016 a recall was sent out after it was revealed that some cars could suffer a suspected loss of steering control – though this was only found to be a problem with high-mileage cars. It’s best to ensure that any used example that you’re looking to buy has had this work completed upon it.

Rivals

It’s a heavily contested segment that the Insignia sits within. You’ve got the ever-popular Ford Mondeo offering an involving drive as well as excellent value for the money, as well as the Mazda 6 which brings with it good levels of reliability and comfort. All offer an individual benefit, though the Insignia’s high level of standard equipment make it a smart choice, even against accomplished rivals like these.

Depreciation warning

As mentioned earlier, the Insignia does suffer somewhat from poor residuals. This is down to the high production volumes, which lower demand and increase availability – even in the used market. The Vauxhall brand isn’t synonymous with high used prices either, and struggles to contend with more sought-after rivals from Germany. It’s worth remembering this if you’re looking at purchasing an Insignia from new, as you’ll have to absorb this deprecation after you buy the car.

Which Insignia to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

1.5T Design 5dr Grand Sport

Most MPG

1.6 Turbo D ecoTec Design 5dr Grand Sport

Fastest Model (0-60)

1.6T [200] SRi Vx-line Nav 5dr Grand Sport

Trims Explained

There’s a fine range of specifications offered with the Insignia, bringing with them varying degrees of standard equipment and technology.

Design

Up first comes Design. Costing from £18,550, this base specification includes features like cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and climate control. You also get electrically adjustable seats and steering wheel-mounted controls and a 4.2-inch colour screen, with audio sent through six speakers. Given the impressive list of equipment, it isn’t a bad price – although if you need satellite navigation, you can upgrade to this in the form of Design Nav.

This now includes an eight-inch touchscreen as well as that all-important navigation system, though it does cost more at £19,400.

SRi

Following Design is SRi. This sporty trim level adds 17-inch alloy wheels, as well as electric seats and sports pedals. You also get tinted rear seats, though the biggest change comes in the form of lowered and uprated suspension, which gives the Insignia a more purposeful look on the road. This costs from £20,350, though a Nav specification can also be selected for a slightly higher price of £21,200.

All SRi cars can also come with a full VXR sports bodykit in VX-Line editions, while VX-Line Nav cars gain – unsurprisingly – satellite navigation. These cost £24,410 and £25,260 respectively.

Limited Edition

Limited Edition comes next. This brings with it 18-inch bi-colour wheels, front and rear parking sensors as sports-style front seats. You also get Bluetooth and Onstar – Vauxhall’s ‘personal connectivity and service assistant’.

This gives 24-hour emergency roadside assistance, as well as full wi-fi connectivity for the car. Limited Edition cars cost from £23,355.

Tech Line

Above Limited Edition sits Tech Line. This brings with it the very highest amount of technology and assistance system. As such, these cars come with a Navi 900 intellilink system, which gives better connectivity between the car’s media system and a smartphone. You also get satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and seven speakers that provide a clear, crisp sound.

In short, if you’re a real technophile then this is the car to go for. Tech Line cars retail from £23,785.

Elite

Elite cars come next. Sitting as the penultimate trim level in the range, it’ll come as no surprise that Elite specification vehicles gain a huge amount of standard equipment. For a base price of £25,565, you get 18-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels, one-touch electric front windows and powerful Bi-xenon headlights.

Add to that electric seats with memory function and a distance warning graphic that works in conjunction with car’s parking sensors and you have a car whose specification is hard to beat.

VXR Supersport

Sitting at the very top of the range is VXR Supersport. As the ‘halo’ car in the range, it’s understandably well equipped. You get 19-inch alloy wheels, as well as wide 245-section tyres. All-wheel drive is fitted as standard, as is Vauxhall’s adaptive dampers linked to a lowered sport suspension. You also get blue Brembo lettering on the brake calipers, adding the car’s visual appeal. Inside, Recaro sports seats provide exceptional levels of support, while a leather-covered three-spoke sports steering wheel allows for precise adjustment to the car’s direction. Sports pedals complete the look inside. Of course, VXR Supersport cars get all of the toys found on the higher-spec standard Insignia, with a huge amount of performance added on top.

All of this does come at a price however, with VXR Supersport cars priced from £31,995.

Summary

  1. Range of diesel and petrol engines provide good economy across the board
  2. Higher-spec cars benefit from roadside assistance as standard
  3. Used cars must have recall work completed
  4. VXR Supersport cars have largest specification, but aren’t as efficient
  5. Depreciation is high, even with top-spec cars
  6. Estate version doesn’t offer a huge amount of extra space over the standard car
  7. Was refreshed some time ago, so used examples with updated looks are available
  8. Headroom in the rear isn’t the best
  9. In-car storage levels are impressive
  10. Lower-spec cars offer excellent value for money

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