Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer review
The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer comes with an impressive amount of equipment as standard and makes a great long-distance cruiser but some alternatives are better to drive
What's not so good
Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: what would you like to read next?
The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer is a stylish, spacious family estate, based on the Insignia GrandSport, that feels pretty posh inside and has a large, easy-to-load boot.
Jump inside and you’ll find almost every surface comes with a glossy plastic or soft-touch finish – just like in the more expensive VW Passat Estate. The Vauxhall’s sweeping dashboard and tall centre console make it feel even more sporty than the Mazda 6 Estate, too.
Don’t think that’ll make it cramped or uncomfortable, however – all the Vauxhall’s buttons are easy to reach and there’s loads of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel to help you find your ideal driving position. The standard-fit 7.0-inch infotainment screen is bright and relatively easy to use and even comes with smartphone mirroring for Android and Apple devices.
Also standard is Vauxhall’s OnStar personal concierge service. It’ll help you program the satellite navigation, find an empty parking space nearby and even call the emergency services if you have an accident.
Things might not be quite so high tech in the back seats but there’s more than enough space for six-foot-tall passengers to sit behind an equally tall driver and almost as much shoulder room as you get in the capacious Skoda Superb Estate.
It’s a similar story in the Vauxhall’s boot. There’s space for a large baby buggy or a bulky set of golf clubs and the back seats fold completely flat to make sliding in heavy luggage a breeze.
The upmarket Insignia Sports Tourer moves away from the rep-mobile image of its Vauxhall estate predecessors but it’s still cheap to run, relaxing to drive and hugely practical
Even with the boot full to the brim and four passengers on board, the Insignia’s 1.5-litre petrol engine is nippy enough and reasonably frugal. If you do lots of motorway miles, however, you’ll want to look at the 2.0-litre diesel instead – it’s even cheaper to run and makes barely any noise when you’re cruising along.
Unfortunately, the Vauxhall’s not quite so relaxing to drive when you’re pottering around town. It feels rather ungainly and only mid-range cars get parking sensors as standard. On twisty roads, it grips well and it’ll take tight corners without leaning much.
Head out onto a motorway and things get much smoother, but it’s not as quiet as either the VW or Skoda. It does, however, come with just as much high-tech kit designed to help prevent accidents, including lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking.
Combine these safety features with its impressive standard equipment and well-built cabin and the Insignia Sports Tourer is hard to ignore if you’re looking for a practical family car that’s affordable but feels upmarket inside.
The Insignia Sports Tourer has no trouble chewing through hundreds of motorway miles but alternatives are slightly quieter
The Insignia Sports Tourer’s an absolute doddle to drive on the motorway but squeezing it through tight backstreets can be an unenviable challenge
You can get the Insignia Sports Tourer with three petrol and three diesel engines and with either front or four-wheel drive.
Pick the 1.5-litre petrol with 165hp if you spend most time driving around town. It’ll only set you back a few hundred pounds more than the 140hp model but it’ll sprint from 0-62mph a whole second quicker in 8.6 seconds. It’ll be pretty cheap to run, too – Vauxhall claims it’ll return 46mpg and you can expect to see around 40mpg in real-world conditions.
In fact, they’re so good that the 1.6-litre 200hp petrol and range-topping 2.0-litre 260hp seem like an extravagance. Sure, they both deliver their power well, are smooth and hushed, but unless you really want the extra performance aren’t worth choosing before the cheaper 1.5s.
If you’d prefer a frugal diesel, there’s a 1.6-litre engine with either 110hp or 136hp but both are quite noisy at slow speeds and have to work hard to keep up with fast-moving traffic. The 170hp 2.0-litre version isn’t quite as efficient but it’s the pick of the range if you do lots of motorway miles. It’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds and returns a claimed 56mpg – although you’ll probably see a figure in the low forties in real-world conditions.
A worthy upgrade is the eight-speed automatic gearbox you can get in all but 1.5-litre petrol models. It’ll set you back quite a bit extra but it really helps take the stress out of long journeys. It changes gear quickly and smoothly and doesn’t lurch at slow speeds like the DSG automatic you can get in the VW Passat Estate and Skoda Superb Estate.
The Insignia Sports Tourer is far from the largest car on sale but it still feels ungainly and somewhat out of its depth in tight city streets. Its steeply raked windscreen stretches way out in front of you and makes judging exactly where the car’s front wheels are slightly tricky.
Sadly, you don’t get parking sensors as standard – they’re an option on all but Tech Line Nav and Elite models – but at least the steering is light and the pedals are nicely spaced. The suspension does quite a good job ironing out potholes too, even without the optional FlexRide adaptive suspension upgrade. The pillars between the doors and the windscreen don’t create any particularly large blindspots either, so you can easily spot approaching cars when you’re pulling out of junctions.
Head out onto a motorway and the Insignia Sports Tourer comes into its own – especially if you pick a 2.0-litre diesel model. You’ll hear barely any noise from the engine and there’s almost as little wind noise as in the library-quiet VW Passat Estate.
Unfortunately, you’ll hear a little more tyre noise at speed than in the Passat Estate and adaptive cruise control – that’ll maintain a safe distance to cars in front before returning to a preset speed when the road’s clear – costs extra across the range.
Thankfully, all models come with lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking (that’ll try to stop the car as quickly as possible if it detects an obstacle in the road ahead) as standard. The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer wasn’t tested specifically by Euro NCAP, but the Grand Sport stablemate its based on was, where it achieved the maximum five-star rating in 2017.
The Insignia Sports Tourer’s cabin looks smart and feels well built, but some alternatives have bigger boots and more intuitive infotainment systems