Vaux­hall In­signia

Our fi­nal ver­dict on the es­tate



To dis­cover if Vaux­hall’s flag­ship of­fers an un­beat­able mix of prac­ti­cal­ity, value and ex­ec­u­tive com­fort in es­tate form

Eleven months ago, when we started run­ning the Vaux­hall In­signia Sports Tourer on the Au­to­car fleet, Britain’s fu­ture in Europe was as clear as mud, Eng­land only had one World Cup to their name and Manch­ester City were top of the league. De­spite my un­founded op­ti­mism that all of these things would change, only one has…

But in that time we’ve learned ev­ery­thing there is to know about the 2.0-litre diesel-en­gined four-wheel drive In­signia es­tate, cov­er­ing more than 11,000 miles across the UK. The point of Au­to­car’s long-term tests is to see how easy a car is to live with, how re­li­able it is and how much it costs to run. The Sports Tourer has pro­voked in­trigue in all three ar­eas.

Given that it’s the es­tate ver­sion of Vaux­hall’s flag­ship model, you’d hope that the car’s prac­ti­cal­ity would be where it ex­cels. It doesn’t dis­ap­point. The In­signia may not have the big­gest load bay in its class, but the boot is still ele­phan­tine enough. At no point dur­ing our time with the car did any­one ever say, ‘Oh, this boot could do with be­ing a bit big­ger’.

It’s had to carry three bi­cy­cles, the con­tents of a col­league’s apart­ment, Au­to­car’s en­tire ros­ter of cam­era equip­ment and at times an ac­tual hu­man pho­tog­ra­pher. The Sports Tourer of­fers more prac­ti­cal­ity than a lot of SUVS. A flat load lip re­duces the awk­ward stack­ing of goods to an easy slide, while the rail ratchet di­viders that come as part of the Flex Or­gan­iser pack make se­cur­ing lug­gage a quick and easy task.

Vaux­hall knows it has a fight on to keep the car com­pet­i­tive in the es­tate car fleet seg­ment. This means that the In­signia is packed with great value safety equip­ment that also makes the car a dod­dle to live with over a pro­longed pe­riod. Its lane keep as­sist tech­nol­ogy is ef­fec­tive with­out be­ing over­bear­ing. Com­bine that with a well-honed cruise con­trol sys­tem and you’ll find a car that com­fort­ably voy­ages up and down the coun­try’s mo­tor­way net­work.

When it comes to re­li­a­bil­ity and cost, the big­gest talk­ing point on our car is its driv­e­train. We chose to run a 2.0-litre diesel vari­ant with four-wheel drive and a pair of tur­bocharg­ers. The en­gine is per­haps the one area of the spec­i­fi­ca­tion where, if I was buy­ing the car my­self, I’d per­haps tick a dif­fer­ent box. There’s no doubt that the mo­tor punches enough to get you briskly up to speed on a slip road, and the torque means that when it is fully loaded with blokes and their bikes there is no no­tice­able loss in per­for­mance.

But with a CO2 fig­ure of 187g/ km and econ­omy that amounted to just 35mpg over our test, the high liv­ing costs out­weigh the im­proved per­for­mance ben­e­fits over a lower-spec­i­fi­ca­tion car in my mind. Although had I a com­pa­ny­funded fuel card, I’m sure I could be per­suaded to opt for the ex­tra power.

Those of you who fol­low our longterm tests closely will have read about the diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter (DPF) is­sue that blot­ted an oth­er­wise un­blem­ished re­li­a­bil­ity copy­book. I think we have to give Vaux­hall the ben­e­fit of the doubt and as­sume that ours was an anoma­lous case. How­ever, run­ning this car did peak my aware­ness of DPFS and I would rec­om­mend that any buyer read care­fully into how their prospec­tive car is cov­ered by its warranty be­fore buy­ing a diesel.

In terms of de­pre­ci­a­tion, it’s worth bear­ing in mind that the very top­spec es­tates don’t hold their value as well as lower-spec vari­ants, as sec­ond-hand buy­ers are gen­er­ally look­ing for value in this seg­ment. But in terms of equiv­a­lently specced ri­vals, the In­signia holds on just as well as key com­peti­tors at this price point. If de­pre­ci­a­tion is of ma­jor con­cern, then the more premium badge of­fer­ings from mar­ques such as Audi will claw onto their pen­nies for longer af­ter a larger ini­tial out­lay.

All of that be­ing said, the four­wheel drive sys­tem came into its own when the Beast from the East hit last spring. Put it this way, there were only two cars on the snow-cov­ered top floor of Au­to­car’s multi-storey car park that day, and the other had been left the night be­fore. The op­tional win­ter pack also af­fords lux­u­ries that I’d ar­gue are worth fork­ing out for. A heated steer­ing wheel, rear heated seats and heated front and rear screens were also a treat dur­ing those pre­vail­ing con­di­tions and hon­estly knocked min­utes off a com­mute for days on end through­out win­ter.

So what’s the over­rid­ing feel­ing af­ter 11 months and 11,000 miles? At Au­to­car we are priv­i­leged to be in the po­si­tion to jump out of a va­ri­ety of cars and back into a long-term test car. Ev­ery time I stepped back into the In­signia, I did so with a sense of re­lief that I wouldn’t have to worry about fit­ting all my cam­era equip­ment in, or how com­fort­able I would be for the next 300-mile drive home. And I knew that the good­value safety kit and sprin­kling of cor­po­rate lux­u­ries, such as the wi-fi, or the crisp voice-ac­ti­vated hands­free phone sys­tem, would al­low me to do as much busi­ness as is le­gal along the way. That, hon­estly, feels right about where the In­signia should be.

The op­tional Win­ter Pack af­fords lux­u­ries that are worth fork­ing out for

Roomy cabin and lots of tech and toys make easy work of long trips

Four-wheel drive pro­vided sure-footed trac­tion at all times Boot isn’t bestin-class big but it’s roomy enough

Boot proved ideal for car-to-car pho­tog­ra­phy

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