Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer estate (2017-2019)
"The latest Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer is a far more accomplished all-rounder than its predecessor"
- Good value for money
- Spacious interior
- Attractively styled
- Indifferent to drive
- Lacks premium image
- Rivals are more economical
The latest Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer certainly has its work cut out for it. Like the Volkswagen Passat and Ford Mondeo estates, it has to compete for buyers at a time when many are falling for the charms of ‘premium’ rivals. However, life isn’t easy for the BMW 3 Series Touring, Audi A4 Avant or Mercedes C-Class Estate either.
Families are still moving away from conventional estate cars and into compact SUVs such as the SEAT Ateca, Skoda Kodiaq and Nissan Qashqai. Vauxhall hopes, though, that its Insignia Sports Tourer can recapture some of these customers with a large estate car that’s bigger, more enjoyable to drive and better value than ever.
Vauxhall has clearly succeeded on the first point – at 125mm longer than a Skoda Superb estate, the Insignia Sports Tourer is a pretty huge car. As a model sold in numerous markets, its extra size increases its appeal in North America, but also means UK buyers benefit from far more interior and boot space than the previous Insignia Sports Tourer. The downside is that the Vauxhall always feels like a big car. On cramped urban roads it can seem rather cumbersome, and effortless parking can take some practice.
That won’t be of any concern to passengers, who can enjoy leg-stretching room in both the front and back seats. And – despite the steeply curving roofline – there’s no shortage of headroom in either row. The boot is generous, too; at 560 litres, it handily trumps the Ford Mondeo Estate, although it can’t match the acres of room you find in the boot of a Skoda Superb Estate.
As a driving machine, the Sports Tourer doesn’t come close to its premium rivals, but is comfortable, safe and easy to drive once you’ve got used to its bulk. Thankfully, the steering is accurate and it’s easy to place the Vauxhall on open roads. While this isn’t a car that many will choose to take out on the road for the sheer thrill of driving, it can still make the daily slog enjoyable if you take a more winding route home. And, with their more powerful petrol and diesel engines, the range-topping GSi models are genuinely fast. Vauxhall has put considerable effort into their suspension, which provides impressive stability and grip – although the 20-inch GSi wheels can crash into bumps even in the softest setting.
Fuel economy is perhaps the least impressive aspect of the latest model. Only the 65.7mpg returned by the least powerful diesel stands out. The most powerful of the Vauxhall’s 1.6-litre diesels is an enjoyable engine to use, allowing fuss-free overtaking – although motorway journeys are more pleasurable with the larger, thirstier 2.0-litre.
Those drivers who cover fewer than 12,000 or so miles a year, or who make a lot of urban journeys, may find one of the 1.5-litre petrol engines suitable. There are two versions, with 138 or 163bhp. The former feels a little overwhelmed by the weight of the Insignia – the 163bhp engine is far easier to live with, although 46.3mpg fuel economy is nothing to write home about.
Those who yearn for more power can go for the 1.6-litre, 197bhp petrol turbo engine, which offers a respectable turn of speed yet uses little more fuel than the 1.5-litre cars. If you want more performance still, there's the range-topping GSI. It offers a 256bhp petrol or 207bhp diesel engine but, since even the latter can't quite crack 40mpg, neither GSi is well suited to those who cover a high annual mileage.
The strongest suit of the Insignia Sport Tourer (in common with the Grand Sport hatchback model) is undoubtedly the value for money it offers. It comfortably undercuts the Skoda Superb and most of its similarly sized rivals, despite being decked out with an enviable list of standard equipment. All models have a touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry, cruise control and 17-inch wheels.
With autonomous emergency braking standard across the range, the Vauxhall isn’t found wanting for safety equipment, either, and Euro NCAP has awarded it five out of five after its independent crash tests. It’s too early to make predictions of reliability, though – Vauxhall’s overall rating in our annual Driver Power owner satisfaction survey has tended towards the average, but we’d hope this latest model to make big strides forwards.
Good scores for reliability would really make the Insignia Sports Tourer a hard-to-beat all-rounder. It looks good inside and out and offers bags of space and equipment for your money, even if it isn’t the sharpest car to drive.