Review

Vauxhall Insignia hatchback

£17,439 - £27,894

The Vauxhall Insignia is a hugely popular large family hatchback that competes directly with the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat, Skoda Superb and Peugeot 508, though it undercuts all of these cars on price. This partly explains why the Insignia is a popular choice for company car buyers, who are able to get more for their money if they choose the Vauxhall.

The Insignia has a lot to recommend it beyond price alone, though. If you’re unconcerned about second-hand values (as company car drivers tend to be), choosing an Insignia gets you a handsome, comfortable, practical and well-equipped car.

The range starts with a 138bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine that's best avoided. It's neither hugely quick nor particularly efficient, getting the insignia from 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds but only managing 38.7mpg and costing £210 a year in road tax thanks to relatively high CO2 emissions.

Spend an extra £800 or so and you get a far more modern 1.4-litre petrol engine, which uses turbocharging to produce the same 138bhp. It's quicker than the 1.8-litre, taking 10.9 seconds to go from 0-62mph and it's also significantly less expensive to run. The 1.4-litre petrol has fuel economy of 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 124g/km, making road tax £110 annually. If you cover 8,000 miles a year or so (the UK average) then, taking road tax and petrol prices into account, the 1.4-litre engine will pay for itself in just over two years compared to the 1.8-litre.

If you prioritise performance over economy, there's a pair of more powerful petrol engines. The turbocharged 247bhp 2.0-litre engine offers roughly the same economy as the 1.8-litre petrol, yet it gets the Insignia from 0-62mph in just 7.5 seconds. If that's not enough, the 321bhp 2.8-litre V6 petrol engine of the Insignia VXR Supersport is thirsty (26.6mpg), expensive to buy (it's almost twice the price of cheapest Insignia) and expensive to tax (CO2 emissions of 244g/km will cost you £500 a year) but standard four-wheel drive helps it get the Insignia from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds. It won’t be easy to sell on the second-hand market, though.

Turning to the diesel engines, as most Insignia customers do, you get a choice of two. The 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel takes 10.9 seconds to go from 0-62mph, returns 74.3mpg and emits 99g/km of CO2, making road tax free and the all-important Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rate 19% for company car drivers. The 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel does the same 0-62mph sprint in 9.4 seconds, returning 65.7mpg and emitting 114g/km of CO2 in the process. This makes road tax just £30 a year, while the BiK rate increases to 22% if you choose this engine. Do note, as ever, that the larger alloy wheels included in higher trim levels dent economy by a few mpg, and cause an increase in CO2 emissions. This is particularly true of SRi trim, which pushes the 1.6-litre diesel up two BiK brackets, to 21%.

On the road, comfort is the name of the game. The Insignia isn’t as involving to drive as the Ford Mondeo or Mazda6 along a winding B-road, but its soft suspension and limited wind noise means there are few better cars at this price for long motorway journeys. Just be aware that the economy-focussed ecoFLEX models come with stiffer suspension, meaning potholes are less competently absorbed. Specifying the optional FlexRide adjustable suspension system costs £790 and allows you to choose from Sport, Tour and Normal driving modes depending on your mood.

Inside, the Insignia feels well built and comfortable. It's not revolutionary in any way, but the various switches and buttons fall easily to hand, and everything works as you’d expect. Front seat passengers get plenty of space, while those in the rear benefit from generous legroom, though headroom is tight for taller passengers thanks to the sloping roofline. The large 530-litre boot is roughly the same size as the Mondeo's, but it's a shame the rear seats don’t fold completely flat.

We usually give a full rundown of trim levels but with nine to choose from, it's best sticking to the highlights. The range starts with Design trim, which includes a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, LED running lights, 17-inch alloy-effect wheels, cruise control and electric front windows. Design Nav, as the name suggests, adds sat nav for £850. SE cars have all-round electric windows, automatic lights and wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels, as well as some upgraded trim details; this doesn’t seem like a great deal of kit for the £2,500 premium SE trim commands over Design, even after you consider the fact that the SE gets you the 1.4-litre petrol over the basic 1.8-litre engine as standard.

SRi trim adds lowered sports suspension, sports seats and some interior trim upgrades, while SRi VX-Line features 19-inch alloy wheels, a bodykit and yet more interior enhancements. Elite trim sits at the top of the range and features heated, power-adjustable leather seats, all-round parking sensors, as well as Vauxhall's OnStar concierge, connectivity and emergency contact service.

The Insignia doesn’t have the greatest reputation for reliability, as evidenced in its 136th place out of 150 cars in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. A five star safety rating from Euro NCAP is more reassuring, though.