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The Top Gear car review:Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer
For:A big, flexible boot and those unexpectedly attractive lines
Against:Still not as good to drive as the Ford Mondeo
2.0 CDTi Design 5dr
A pleasing alternative to the ubiquitous SUV suspects, sadly sullied by dodgy infotainment controls and an outdated engine.
Estate version of Insignia VXR makes more sense than the hatch. Quick and practical, but is it just too thirsty?
Good-looking and big-booted, the Insignia estate plays havoc with the having cake/eating cake principle.
What we say:
Roomier and better than the hatch, but rivals are better still. Facelift gives it a helping hand
What is it?
The Insignia is a decent all-rounder, and the Sports Tourer is an improvement on the hatch, which is compromised by that raking roofline. There’s more space in the back here, and of course you get the advantage of a bigger boot. It’s not that big, however, and the Insignia still doesn’t drive as well as the best cars in this class.
Vauxhall has worked hard on improving things, though. The smart facelift for 2014 brings revised looks, better engines and a tweaked drive. There’s also now an Allroad-style Country Tourer with raised ride-height and four-wheel drive.
Despite obvious in-house improvements, Vauxhall hasn’t quite kept up with the best of its rivals in dynamic terms, still falling short of the Ford Mondeo particularly. Steering is a bit vague and disconnected, meaning the car feels hard to place confidently in quicker corners. The estate doesn’t differ from the hatch-cum-saloon in this respect. It’s a stable and relaxing motorway car – certainly a significant attribute when you consider the number of fleet sales the Insignia will take – but it’s not a great car to hustle across country roads.
Engine choice is fairly crucial here. The Sports Tourer will benefit from a decent bit of torque so a diesel is essential. There is a wide selection of flavours to choose from, all 2.0-litre CDTi jobs with a reasonable balance of performance and economy. Be wary of the turbocharged 2.8-litre VXR. Yes, it looks racy, 325bhp is tempting and it drives well, but the residuals…. Choose the 195bhp BiTurbo instead.
On the inside
The Insignia Sports Tourer redresses one of the hatch and saloon’s principle failings: that there simply isn’t enough room in the back. The aggressively sloping roofline of the five-door hatch means headroom is really pinched and that’s not so much of a problem here. As for the boot, it’s big enough at 540-litres, with our only criticism being that the aperture slopes in towards the roof, which might make squeezing in really bulky things awkward. But there is an added bonus that the rear seats fold virtually flat.
The cabin has been significantly improved for 2014, with a far less confusing centre console, new dials and a general uplift in quality and premium feel. It’s a success.
As a lease hire shoo-in for sales reps, the most important thing for the Insignia is a strong range of diesels. And it has got that all right. There’s a bewildering range to choose from considering they’re all the same 2.0-litre CDTi. But be you fleet or private buyer, the ecoFlex options provide the best fuel returns and emit the least CO2 for those vital tax savings.