The Vauxhall Insignia is a large family hatchback – a type of car that's fallen out of favour in recent years. Buyers after spacious family transport are flocking to SUVs and crossovers, while those who want economy are downsizing to smaller, more efficient cars.
Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a roomy and practical large hatchback with a decent-sized boot and plenty of standard equipment, the Vauxhall Insignia is well worth considering – particularly if you cover a lot of motorway miles.
Counting in the Insignia's favour are its looks. Vauxhall has given the car smart, coupe-like styling and it's attractive to behold. The Insignia is also available with modern, efficient engines and with prices starting from just £17,000 before discounts, it offers significant value for money.
Rivals like the Ford Mondeo, Mazda6 and Skoda Superb mean the Insignia is up against stiff competition, though, and if you’re in the market for a car like this, you should try those models first – as well as looking at SUVs – before committing to the Vauxhall.
The Insignia is available with a wide choice of engines, catering for all tastes and budgets. The most economical model is the 132bhp 1.6-litre diesel which, when ordered with Vauxhall's stop-start ecoFLEX technology, returns 74.3mpg and is exempt from road tax.
At the other end of the scale is the 2.8-litre petrol Insignia VXR, which manages just 26.6mpg and costs £490 a year to tax – although it’ll propel you from 0-62mph in under six seconds. The best engine lies somewhere between these two extremes: the 2.0-litre CDTi diesel manages 65.7mpg and costs just £30 a year in road tax.
As well as the crazy 2.8-litre petrol engine, the Insignia can also be ordered with 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrols, as well as an economy-focused 1.4-litre turbo petrol. They’re generally smooth and quiet, plus they suit the Insignia's comfortable suspension well.
As far as diesel Insignias are concerned, the 2.0-litre CDTi engine is a strong performer. There's also a 1.6-litre CDTi from Vauxhall's range of ‘Whisper’ diesel engines. The brand claims they offer greater refinement than you’d typically expect from a diesel.
The Insignia is a predictable and comfortable car to drive, although the Mazda6 and Ford Mondeo manage to blend comfort with a more engaging driving experience. Vauxhall does offer the Insignia with its FlexRide adaptive suspension system, though. This lets you adjust the stiffness of the suspension by selecting from Sport, Tour and Normal modes. It sharpens the Insignia's handling nicely, but it's a relatively expensive option.
The Insignia feels well built; interior materials and finish are good. The driver and front passenger seats offer plenty of room and comfort, but the sloping roofline means taller rear-seat passengers will struggle for headroom. While the boot is a good size and shape, the back seats don’t fold completely flat, which affects the Insignia's practicality slightly.
Vauxhall offers the Insignia in a slightly bewildering 13 different trim levels. These range from Design through to the range-topping sporty VXR model. But the Insignia is a well-equipped car, however you specify it. Even the entry-level Design has DAB radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, alloy wheels and a power-adjustable driver's seat.
We recommend the SE, as it adds electric rear windows and stylish exterior trim touches, as well as automatic lights and wipers. Higher-spec Insignias come with Apple CarPlay connectivity and Vauxhall's excellent OnStar connectivity and service assistance.
The Insignia has a good reputation for reliability, but it didn’t fare too well in our 2015 Driver Power Customer satisfaction survey, coming 165th out of 200 cars for overall ownership satisfaction. It is, however, a very safe car, gaining the full five stars in its Euro NCAP safety tests – although this assessment was carried out before the regime became more stringent. All Vauxhall Insignias come as standard with six airbags, a tyre-pressure monitoring system and electronic stability control.