The Vauxhall Insignia won the European Car Of The Year shortly after its launch in 2009, prompting Vauxhall to boldly claim that it was good enough to take on existing executive favourites like the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. In reality, the Insignia is more of a rival for the Ford Mondeo, Honda Accord and Citroën C5 than executive saloons. Despite its hatchback body, the Vauxhall is a handsome family car and offers a massive range of engines and specifications to choose from, including the VXR Supersport model that delivers an impressive 321bhp and has four-wheel drive for extra grip.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
If you go for an ecoFlex model, you’re likely to see fuel economy in the mid-60s mpg – but models like the 2.0-litre CFTi 120 ecoFLEX diesel with stop-start technology can return up to 76.3mpg and emit only 98g/km for free road tax. At the other end of the scale, the 322bhp VXR SuperSport 2.8-litre V6 Turbo petrol returns just 26.6mpg and emits a hefty 249g/km of CO2, for road tax of £475 annually. It also worth noting that many manufacturers can’t match Vauxhall's five-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
Interior & comfort
The Insignia is certainly very comfortable, thanks to lots of space in the front for the driver and passenger. Headroom in the rear is a bit cramped, though, because of the sleek, sloping roof – thankfully legroom is not a problem. Wind, road and engine noise are well suppressed especially when cruising, but if you choose to add the larger wheels that are available on the SRi and VXR cars, then the car gets noisier and has a harder ride. We’d certainly recommend adding Vauxhall's FlexRide adaptive damping system, which automatically adjusts the suspension, steering and throttle to match your driving.
Practicality & boot space
If you’re looking for the most space you can get for your family, then the Skoda Superb remains the best option, but the Insignia still offers plenty of room for most people's needs. The hatchback has 530 litres of boot space, which expands to an impressive 1,470 litres, with the standard-fit 60:40 split-folding back seats down. The Insignia's wide boot opening and easy-to-use boot lid make accessing easy for loading and unloading. The load area isn’t completely flat, however, which makes loading long items a bit trickier. The saloon version loses 30 litres of space with the seats up – and more than 400 litres of maximum capacity – but the main problem is the narrow boot opening and high loading lip, which hamper practicality. On the plus side, space in the front is plentiful and there are lots of compartments to store bits and pieces. Rear kneeroom is acceptable, but headroom in the back is compromised by the comparatively low roofline.
Reliability & safety
After finishing an impressive 21st in the 2012 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey's list of top 100 cars, the Insignia took something of a tumble down the chart in 2013, ranking 98th – coming 77th for reliability. It wasn’t a great year overall for Vauxhall either, the manufacturer fell 13 places down the rankings to come 26th out of 32 car builders, behind arch rival Ford, which came 23rd. Luckily, Vauxhall has a large network of dealers to deal with most of the issues, but the service costs are higher than some of its main competitors. Nonetheless, all Insignias come with a 100,000-mile/lifetime warranty. The Insignia, secured the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests. All models coming fitted with six airbags and electronic stability control (ESP) as standard. You can also get options such as adaptive Xenon headlights, which follow the direction of the steering wheel to give better vision through corners, plus tyre pressure monitors.
Engines, drive & performance
Unfortunately, the Insignia simply doesn’t match the Ford Mondeo for driving fun. It is very comfy and quiet on the road, though, meaning it is still a good choice for anyone who regularly racks up a lot of miles on the motorway. The steering is quite light, but heavy enough to dumb down sharp steering inputs. The engines on offer are pretty varied, so you’ll definitely find one to suit your needs – the range-topping VXR Supersport model has a top speed of 168mph and accelerates from 0-62mph in just 5.6 seconds. It's the mid-range diesels that would be our recommendation for most drivers, however, with the 128bhp 2.0-litre CDTi accelerating from 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds, which means plenty of power for overtaking. The interior impresses as well, and it's easy to find a comfortable driving position thanks to the supportive front seats and adjustable steering column. The gearlever is placed high and the shift action is light, making for easy shifts.
Price, value for money & options
One of the best things about Vauxhall is that – with a bit of haggling – dealers will offer huge discounts on the manufacturer's recommended on-the-road-price, and the Insignia is already decent value to start with. The entry-level ES cars don’t have a lot of equipment or accessories. Although you do get basics like air-conditioning and cruise control, you’ll also have to make do with manually winding rear windows, and plastic wheel trims instead of alloy wheels. The SRi, SE, ecoFLEX and Elite versions are better, so it's really a case of picking the best balance of price and equipment to suit you. More expensive models at the top of the range will lose their value the fastest – especially the powerful VXR Supersport.