Why we’re running it: To discover if Vauxhall’s flagship offers an unbeatable mix of practicality, value and executive comfort in estate form
Month 1 – Specs
Life with the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: Month 1
Welcoming the Insignia Sports Tourer to our fleet – 21st February 2018
This 67-plate Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer lands on our shores having been on quite a journey.
As you will have read in these pages, the Vauxhall and Opel badges had long been foundering under GM ownership. They declared losses of £190 million in the second quarter of 2017 (an average of £3m a day), before the high-profile takeover by PSA Group at the end of last year. As the listing begins to settle under the new admiralty, it is paramount that the marque’s new flagship leads the incoming flotilla of models – that will in future be based on shared PSA Group architecture – to forecast profit in 2020.
And so it’ll have been with a wide grin that PSA boss Carlos Tavares received the news that 100,000 orders of the second-generation Insignia, which we’ll be running, have already been taken in its first year on sale. The tide starts to turn. A new era begins. Exciting times. As it is for us, running the D-segment fleet favourite in Sports Tourer form.
Ours, appropriately, has been given the honourable task of voyaging up and down the country’s motorways with a videographer and all his kit on board – similar to how a lot of business drivers will use the car (albeit with a few more lenses and tripods). And we’ve specced it accordingly. To give our car its full name, it is a Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer Elite Nav 2.0 210PS BiTurbo D 4×4 Auto.
Let me break that down for you. ‘Sports Tourer’, as you can see, is marketing pidgin for ‘estate’. More than 135 litres have been added over the predecessor’s boot capacity.
Larger than a Mondeo Estate’s loadspace, but not quite as big as that of the more expensive Passat, it’s suitably cavernous to swallow the entire Autocar video kit when the rear seats are folded down.
Now, the eight-speed auto ’box was a no-brainer given the mileage that the Insignia will have to deal with. And we’ve paired it with the higher-powered turbocharged diesel unit that produces 207bhp. This engine will be remapped and re-tuned in the upcoming hot GSi variant of the Insignia due this year. Here’s hoping for a hearty blend of response, economy and cruising comfort over the next few months.
The four-wheel-drive system will likely get a good run out on some wet and cold Welsh mountainsides. Which leads me to the first of our optional extras: Winter Pack 2 (£400). Seats front and rear are heated, as is the front windscreen and steering wheel: a luxury that’s hard to live without after it has been experienced for the first time.
These are on top of a gargantuan list of features that come as standard with the Elite Nav level of trim, including European sat-nav, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bose sound system, 8in touchscreen, DAB radio, leather seats, cruise control, Isofix points, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking.
Also standard-fit, the IntelliLux Matrix LED headlights are breathtakingly effective. When switched to full beam, they detect traffic and patch out one LED at a time so as not to blind other road users while maximising the driver’s view.
Driver Assist Pack 4 chucks in even more safety features. These include a blind-spot sensor, parking sensors and a rear-view camera – all handy given the large barge’s track has been widened by 11mm for this generation. At £650, these seem a bargain compared with the options lists of slightly more premium badges.
The penultimate box ticked was another slam dunk at £120, the FlexOrganiser: a simple set of rails and ratchets in the boot that allow you to harness kit – and, in controlled environments, photographers – flexibly.
Finally, we added the £565 Flip Chip Silver two-coat metallic paint. It’s an iridescent light blue in colder light that completes what is a rakishly handsome design.
Now, ordinarily, we wouldn’t pass too much comment on a car’s looks. Being subjective and all that, we tend to let you make your own mind up. However, given that the bloke who designed the thing (Mark Adams, Vauxhall’s design chief) took time out of his busy schedule to hand over the keys to our new motor, we may as well pass on a nugget or two of insight.
Adams tells us that, as with much of the current range, there is heavy influence from the ‘Monza Concept’ that appeared at Frankfurt in 2013. You can see this especially in the headlights and the stylish ‘tick’ that flows down the side of the car.
So important is it to Vauxhall that this car creates a premium aura that Adams’ design team were involved from its very inception. Indeed, the all-new chassis architecture being used at the Rüsselsheim assembly plant was adapted geometrically to meet aesthetic requirements.
The metallic window surround that stretches from bonnet to boot helps to make the car look much longer, lower and wider – a feat that Adams is rightly proud of. All the while, interior touches have improved rear seat space and boot capacity.
Of course, all of these design touches will make the Insignia Sports Tourer more appealing to the business buyer and the fleet co-ordinator, and also to us.
We regularly turn up to various manufacturer HQs with a bootload of equipment, and desire comfort, premium infotainment and unassuming looks along the way. So over the next few months, we’ll ask if the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer will be more executive than the Superb, more practical than the Mondeo, better value than the Passat and find the sweet spot in the large executive value estate market.
If so, it may well lead the much-needed fightback for Vauxhall.
I did most of the first break-in miles in the Insignia after we took delivery. Two things stand out: a dramatic improvement in fuel mileage on the open road (the trip computer now shows 40mpg) and extra road noise because it’s a 4×4. No disaster, but worth knowing before you pay for extra traction.
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Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer Elite Nav 2.0 210PS BiTurbo D 4×4 Auto specification
Specs: Price New £29,960; Price as tested: £31,695; Options: Winter pack 2 (£400), FlexOrganiser (£120), Driver Assist Pack 4 (£650), two-coat metallic paint (£565)
Test Data: Engine 1956cc, twin-turbocharged diesel; Power 207bhp; Torque 354lb ft; Top speed 145mph; 0-62mph 7.4sec; Claimed fuel economy 40.4mpg;Test fuel economy31.2mpg; CO2 186g/km; Faults None; Expenses None