Our final verdict on the estate
WHY WE RAN IT
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