Vauxhall Insignia

Good-looking family hatchback and small executive car

7.1
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 29 reviews
  • Stylish looks
  • Excellent cabin
  • Value for money
  • Cramped rear seat headroom
  • Some restricted visibility
  • The Ford Mondeo exists
 

£17,999 - £32,964 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

26 - 68 MPG

Review

The Vauxhall Insignia is a mid-size family car that can be ordered as a saloon or a hatchback. Its closest rivals are the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Superb.

The interior of the Insignia is well liked by reviewers. Material quality and the overall layout have been greatly improved over the previous model, but it still falls behind the Volkswagen Passat and passenger space isn’t as generous as you might expect.

The Insignia is a very capable motorway cruiser. The ride soaks up bumps and imperfections nicely and hardly any noise filters its way into the cabin at speed. It won’t entertain the driver the way a Mondeo will, but after a long drive in the Insignia you never feel tired or worn out.

The 2.0-litre diesel is the best choice of engine according to reviewers. They liked its impressive pulling power at low speeds and its hushed nature on the motorway. Some of the petrols are faster, but none can match the low fuel consumption of the diesels or the 1.6-litre model’s free road tax.

Equipment levels are good and every Insignia comes with climate control, DAB digital radio with Bluetooth phone connectivity, automatic lights as well as cruise control. See the paint shades available for the Vauxhall Insignia and check if it’ll fit into your life with our dimensions guide.

A new model has recently been revealed – take a look at this upcoming Vauxhall Insignia by reading our price, specs and release date article.

Cheapest to buy: 1.8-litre Design petrol

Cheapest to run: 1.6-litre SRi ecoFlex diesel

Fastest model: 2.8-litre VXR petrol

Most popular: 1.8-litre Design petrol

Critics are full of compliments for the Insignia’s interior. Its swoopy curves and high standards of build quality go down particularly well. There are no cheap-feeling materials, and all the controls are nice to use. 

Vauxhall Insignia passenger space

It would be fair to say that there isn’t quite as much room inside as you might expect from looking at the undeniably large exterior, but there’s certainly enough space for most buyer’s needs. Reviewers comment that rear headroom can be a little tight, but only if you’re particularly tall. The seats are as comfortable as you’d hope, so longer journeys should be a breeze.

Vauxhall Insignia boot space

Although not as big as the one in the Skoda Superb, the Insignia has a decent 530-litre boot, which rises to 1,470 litres with the back seats down. The boot’s large opening makes loading bulky items easier.

As with the interior, the driving experience has improved immeasurably over the old Vectra. Testers still don’t rate it as highly as the Mondeo, but then little else in the class scales those heights either, and Vauxhall appears to have got the basics right.

The ride quality in particular is highly praised, soaking up the bumps and road imperfections without problems even on the largest 18-inch wheels. It’s also a refined companion on the motorway.

The Insignia comes with a wide selection of engines, ranging from a frugal 1.6-litre diesel to a twin-turbocharged V6 petrol that propels the Insignia VXR to an impressive top speed of 170mph – making it one of the fastest hatchbacks on sale.

Vauxhall Insignia petrol engines

The cheapest petrol engine on offer is a 1.8-litre unit that has been around since 2005. It produces 140hp, takes a leisurely 11.5 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 62mph with combined fuel consumption of 38.7mpg and annual road tax costs £205. In this era of frugal turbocharged and downsized engines it simply doesn’t stack up to rivals in terms of performance or economy.

Costing around £800 more, the turbocharged 1.4-litre is well worth the premium. It improves fuel economy by more than 10mpg compared to the 1.8 and road tax is £95 cheaper, yet it is also quicker than the 1.8-litre model with 0-62mph taking 10.9 seconds.

The range-topping 2.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 is only fitted to the Insignia VXR SuperSport. It catapults the heavy family car from 0 to 62mph in around six seconds and is something of a cut-price Audi S4.

Vauxhall Insignia diesel engines

At the end of 2015, the Insignia diesel range was revised and simplified and now has only two choices – a 1.6-litre with 136hp or a 2.0-litre with 170hp.

The 1.6-litre is an all-new engine – part of Vauxhall’s Whisper range. It’s decently quiet on the motorway, but during hard acceleration becomes quite noisy – it is reasonably quick, though, with 0-62mph taking 10.9 seconds and a 236lb ft torque figure translating into strong in-gear acceleration. Go for the EcoFlex model with a manual transmission and 72.4mpg fuel economy is possible, while annual road tax is free because of CO2 emissions of just 98g/km. Go for the automatic and the 0 to 62mph time remains the same, but you get poorer fuel economy (56.5mpg) and a £110 annual road tax bill.

If you spend most of your time driving on the motorway the larger 2.0-litre is the best choice. With 170hp and even more pulling power (295lb ft) available over a wider rev range, the larger engine is popular with critics. Get it with a manual transmission and combined fuel consumption sits at 62.8mpg – just 6mpg less than in the Ford Mondeo 2.0-litre diesel – and road tax costs £30 per year. Specify the automatic gearbox and fuel consumption drops to 50.4mpg, while annual road tax rises to £145.

We aggregate and summarise the most helpful Vauxhall Insignia 1.4T reviews from the best publications.

Designed to replace the naturally-aspirated 1.8-litre petrol (though sold alongside it in the range), the 1.4 turbo is an example of downsizing in action. It gets 49.6mpg on average compared to the 1.8’s 37.2mpg, has lower road tax, and testers say it feels much more powerful despite having similar peak horsepower figures.

That’s thanks to strong, turbocharged torque, allowing swift progress from low revs. It’s useful for overtaking, smooth, and refined. The light weight of the unit also helps the Insignia’s handling. It’s a decent engine - just not right for the car.

Despite the good economy, it still lags behind the diesels, which may make more sense for many buyers. Not only that, but some reviews cite the car’s heavy depreciation as a reason to avoid it.

The general view is that it's a decent engine but not a great ownership proposition.

We aggregate and summarise the most helpful Vauxhall Insignia 1.8 reviews from the best publications.

There’s only one review of the normally-aspirated 1.8, now getting pushed out of the range by the new 1.4 turbocharged petrol. Engines like this are becoming less popular as they struggle to move the hefty bodies of modern cars, and prove expensive to run as a result, with poor economy.

37mpg isn’t too bad, but it lags well behind the 1.4T and particularly behind the diesels, and road tax is £210 a year. Testers also say the engine feels underpowered, meaning you need to really rev it to get moving. This isn’t a disaster as it’s also a smooth, willing engine, but it’s not as effortless as newer units.

Overall, you’d be best to avoid this engine and concentrate on the diesels.

We aggregate and summarise the most helpful Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi 130 reviews from the best publications.

The entry-level diesel in the Insignia range will get attention for being the cheapest oil-burning option in the Insignia range, but judging from the reviews you’d probably be wise to look at one of the more powerful options. Despite strong on-paper torque, the 130-horsepower diesel feels a little over-worked by the heavy bodywork.

Reviewers also say that due to this, you end up working the engine harder, at which point it becomes noisy. Persevere and it has a decent turn of pace, but people buy diesels for their effortlessness as much as economy, and the 160-horsepower option offers more of the former without sacrificing the latter. Economy, for the record, is 48.7mpg with a manual gearbox.

We aggregate and summarise the most helpful Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi 160 reviews from the best publications.

This could be the pick of the Insignia range, particularly if you indulge in the clever option of going for a low trim level, saving you thousands of pounds and still benefitting from the strong diesel engine and high levels of refinement. Performance will be adequate enough for most, and certainly out-punches the less powerful diesel. As a result, overtaking is said to be much easier.

It doesn’t suffer on economy, making an identical 48.7mpg. To top it all, it’s only a few hundred quid more expensive, so testers consider the small extra outlay worth it for more effortless progress.

If you want even better economy, the CDTi 160 is also available with Vauxhall’s EcoFlex badging, which catapults economy into the 60mpg bracket and lowers road tax, too.

We aggregate and summarise the most helpful Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi 160 EcoFlex reviews from the best publications.

Everyone does “eco” variants of their mainstream models these days, and for good reason. With expensive fuel and CO2-based taxes, eco models can allow you to keep driving comfortable, refined cars like the Insignia, without paying through the nose for the privilege. You’ll be pleased to hear then that the Insignia EcoFlex gets up to 65.7mpg on average, and you’ll only pay £30 a year in road tax.

With strong refinement and good performance, some reviewers question why you’d go for the regular CDTi 160, considering the EcoFlex’s benefits. We’d ask the same question - however, with higher prices than the eco-Passat, the BlueMotion, it could be worth checking out VW’s challenger too.

Reviews for the BiTurbo 4x4 are pretty underwhelming, but that’s more the fault of the Insignia’s huge price tag than it is the engine itself. It’s only just cheaper in two-wheel drive form than a BMW 320d, and in 4x4 form it’s a £30k car.

The engine itself is a strong unit. It develops 192bhp from 2.0-litres, with twin turbochargers. One small turbocharger helps boost power and torque at very low revs, and the second kicks in to offer a larger hit of power as the revs rise. Testers say this makes it a responsive engine with very little lag and plenty of performance - 8.2 seconds to 60mph, and 143mph flat-out.

Fuel economy for the front-wheel drive version is 57.6mpg combined, and that falls to 51.4mpg combined for the 4x4 version - for which you’ll also pay £130 for road tax, rather than £95. Automatic transmission drops it further. That all makes it very hard to justify whether a company car or private purchase.

We aggregate and summarise the most helpful Vauxhall Insignia 2.0T reviews from the best publications.

The two reviews we have for the Insignia 2.0T, a two-litre turbocharged petrol, are mixed. Steve Cropley at Autocar came away impressed, citing the smooth-revving and very refined 217-horsepower petrol engine as a highlight, and praising the six-speed manual gearbox.

However, Evo criticised that same gearbox, calling it notchy and long-winded. The gearing also affected that performance in their eyes, and declared it more of a motorway car than something you’d drive for fun.

Who is right? Probably both, depending on what you want from a car. Unfortunately, due to 37mpg economy and £210 a year road tax, few will ever get as far as finding out themselves anyway, as the diesel models are much more relevant to today’s driving conditions.

These are general, non-engine specific reviews. They give a nice overview of what the car is like, without focusing on just one engine/version.

The safety equipment you get as standard in the Insignia is only what you would probably regard as the very minimum you should expect in such a car. You get six airbags and stability control as standard but there aren’t any rear or side airbags here, like you find in most of the car’s competitors.

Despite this, the Insignia still scores a full overall five-star rating in Euro NCAP testing, which does make you wonder just how necessary or effective some of the extras you see on other cars actually are.

If you want the latest lane-assist and collision-avoidance technology, then the Insignia isn’t the car for you right now. But its safety rating means there really shouldn’t be anything for you to worry about in this area.

Specification is important here: like-for-like, Insignias are competitive with their Mondeo rivals. However, Vauxhall offers some of the better engines – the CDTi 160, for example – in relatively low trim levels at extremely competitive prices. You don’t even sacrifice much in the way of equipment by down-speccing, so they present a very good option. 

Standard equipment is plenty, but we’d go for the middle-of-the-line Tech Line trim. It adds nicer-looking alloy wheels, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, rain-sensing wipers as well as an eight-inch touchscreen sat-nav system.

EcoFlex models will be particularly inexpensive to run too, with 65mpg economy and low road tax. Be warned though: Insignias depreciate heavily, so your car won’t be worth a huge amount after three years of ownership.

If you’re a fan of performance Vauxhalls and have a bottomless wallet, the 325bhp, 155mph Insignia VXR could be on your shopping list but if you stick to diesel engines the low servicing and running costs and high levels of standard equipment, not to mention some serious discounts, make the Insignia look like a high value offering.

Conclusion

The Insignia is still overlooked by some people on the basis of its predecessors’ reputations rather than its own. It may be the successor to the little-loved Vectra, but this is a different car built on a global platform that sells in big numbers all over the world.

It might not be the very best car in its class, and it’s already faded into the background on the roads, but if you buy the right model it can be great value and well worth recommending for that reason.

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