IT’S A GRAND TOUR
Estate cars can often be overlooked, but they do offer bags of practical and useable space. Roy Woodcock drives one of the best-looking estates around – the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer
ESTATE cars, and I’ve made this point before, are too often overlooked by buyers rushing to join the ranks of Suv/crossover owners. Certainly, if you’re not one of those demanding seven seats, then the flexibility and passenger-luggage space combination offered by an estate stands comparison with any model you care to name.
Granted, you lose the high riding position loved by so many (and many equate that with feeling safer as they go about their business) but you gain so much more in driving enjoyment; the way the car handles is much, much better, in my humble opinion.
One of the best-looking estates around is that based on the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport hatchback; in this case called the Sports Tourer.
The latest version is noticeably bigger than the model it replaced, yet retains its stylish and sporty profile.
It’s based on new underpinnings and its revised proportions result in more luggage capacity that has increased to 1,640 litres, over 100 litres more than the outgoing model. The length of the boot has grown by 97mm to 2,005mm and it comes with
40/20/40 foldable seats, making it even more practical.
The new model is up to 200 kilograms lighter than its predecessor, which allows for high-tech features to be specified, such as the ultra-modern all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring and the new eight-speed automatic transmission to exploit their strengths to the full.
The Insignia Sports Tourer also comes with new technologies that make driving safer, more relaxing and more comfortable than before.
Vauxhall’s next-generation Intellilux LED matrix lighting, lane keep assist, head-up display, front and rear seat heating and a heated windscreen are all available on the new Insignia. It is also the first Vauxhall to be fitted with an active aluminium bonnet to improve pedestrian protection.
The big news last summer was the introduction of a new 1.6-litre direct injection turbocharged petrol engine to the range. The lively four-cylinder unit produces peak power of 200PS at up to 5,500 rpm and develops 280Nm of torque from 1,650-4,500 rpm and was the engine fitted to my top-ofthe-range Elite Nav model.
It’s the perfect match for such a sporty-looking model, for on the road it puts the power down with absolutely effortless ease. The sprint to 62mph from a standing start is accomplished in just 7.7 seconds and, with a theoretical top speed of 143mph, there’s always something in hand.
The lighter weight makes the car incredibly nimble and it seems to relish the twists and turns that Broads throw up. For such a big car, it loves a challenge and holds corners really well - the ride for the passengers, however, remains calm even when the Insignia is driven really hard.
And despite its size, it also is easy to manoeuvre and no one should have any fears about how it handles in a tight urban environment. The cameras, front and rear, fitted to my car, plus the front and rear parking sensors, made parking a doddle.
The Sports Tourer line-up starts with the Design trim, but even that is well-equipped with a smartphone compatible touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio, keyless entry, cruise control and autonomous emergency braking. You can also order a Design Nav version, with the obvious addition of sat-nav included.
Next up is the Sports Tourer SRI, which has sports seats and 17in alloys. A SRI Nav model is also available. The Tech Line Nav features rain-sensitive wipers and parking sensors, while the SRI Vx-line Nav has sports-style bumpers and big 18in alloys.
Beyond that is the Elite Nav, as tested here, which comes with a suitably huge kit list. It gets Matrix LED lights, leather seats that are heated in all but the centre rear seat, a digital display for the dials and another for the touchscreen infotainment system, which has Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
There’s also a front-facing camera that works with the forward collision alert and auto emergency braking, and lane departure warning with lane assist.
I came away from my week with the car mightily impressed; but there’s always a downside – with the high performance, which comes with the 200 horsepower, 1.6 turbo, engine, fuel economy is poor, struggling to reach the quoted 42mpg.
Other engines, including diesel, are, of course, available.
And overall, you do get a big, practical and eye-catching estate car that, at entry level, is available for a little under £21,000.
■ Visit: www.vauxhall.co.uk
The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer