The Vauxhall Insignia is a member of a dying breed of cars: the large, five-door family hatchback. These days, many car buyers are instead looking for SUVs or downsizing to smaller, more economical models. However, if you crave a roomy cabin, a large boot and decent equipment – and you do a lot of motorway driving – the Insignia could be the car for you.
Its other attractions include a smart coupe-like shape, some powerful and efficient engines and the fact that prices start at around £17,000 before discounts, making it great value for money. The Insignia faces some very strong rivals, however, including the Ford Mondeo and Mazda6, so you should try one of these – and perhaps an SUV, too – before you commit.
There's a wide choice of engines to suit all tastes and pockets. The most economical is a 132bhp 1.6-litre diesel that does 74.3mpg and costs nothing in road tax. The fastest is a 2.8-litre petrol that does 0-62mph in under six seconds but manages just 26.6mpg. In between is the sweet spot of the range: the 166bhp 2.0-litre CDTi diesel. It can return 62.8mpg and costs £30 a year to tax. It's a strong performer, too, with 0-62mph taking nine seconds.
The petrol engines (in addition to the sporty 2.8-litre there's an economical 1.4-litre turbo, a 1.8-litre and a 2.0-litre) are generally smooth and quiet, which suits the Insignia's extremely comfortable suspension well. The 1.6-litre CDTi diesel is one of what Vauxhall calls its ‘whisper diesels’. The manufacturer has made great efforts to reduce the noise and vibration typically associated with diesels.
The Insignia is a safe, secure and predictable car to drive, but the Mazda6 manages to be all that and fun, too. However, the Insignia's optional FlexRide adaptive suspension system sharpens the experience and lets you choose between three modes: Sport, Tour and Normal.
The Insignia looks and feels like a very well built car. The interior especially is well styled and fit and finish is good. It's roomy up front, but a sloping roofline means headroom is at a premium in the back. The boot is large enough for most needs, although it's a shame the backs seats don’t fold completely flat.
There are eight trim levels, ranging from basic Design to VXR. Even Design has DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, 17-inch alloys, cruise control and an electrically adjustable driver's seat. But our pick is SE for its electric rear windows, classier exterior trim, rain-sensitive wipers and automatic lights. Higher-spec models include Apple CarPlay connectivity and Vauxhall's Vauxhall's OnStar connectivity and service assistant too.
The Insignia is a very reliable car, with no serious issues reported by owners. It's safe, too: Euro NCAP awarded it five stars out of five – although it should be this was under a previous, less stringent testing regime. Standard safety kit includes six airbags, tyre-pressure monitoring and electronic stability control.