Vauxhall Insignia Saloon (2013 - ) Expert review
Read the Vauxhall Insignia saloon (2009 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
- Interior design
- Well equipped
- Decent diesel engines
- Rear headroom tight
- Long gearing hinders progress
- Limited range to choose from
At a glance
To our eyes at least, the handsome Vauxhall Insignia is the best-looking mass-produced car of its type, making the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat seem traditional in comparison. It always was a good-looking car, but the facelift in late 2013 has improved it still further. With coupé-like styling and hockey stick creases down its flanks, the Insignia has a low-slung attitude, and there are some neat details, such as the way the chrome trim at the front and rear works with the lights.
There are some lovely touches including the curved metal door pulls which feel aviation-inspired. The good news is that the 2013 facelift ushered in a much-improved fascia, with far fewer buttons and controls on the centre console. There is also a new eight-inch touch-screen system, which was fitted to all the cars we have driven so far, but is optional on all trims except Tech Line, where it is standard. It’s a decent system, which can also be controlled by a new track-pad just behind the gearlever (a further option), as well as by voice commands and controls on the steering wheel. Our only major complaint is that the quality of materials lower down in the cabin is disappointing.
While it might not look it from the outside, the Insignia saloon has a decent 500-litre boot, albeit smaller than what you’ll find in both the Volkswagen Passat and the hatchback version of the Inisgnia. Naturally, this saloon version also lacks the versatility of the hatchback, but it does have the attraction of a secure boot. There’s enough room for four passengers inside, but the middle rear seat is only suitable for short trips, and the coupe-like roofline does make the Insignia a little less accommodating than the very best.
Ride and handling
The Insignia can cover ground quickly thanks to its safe handling, which reassures the driver. Thus far, we have only driven the very latest 2013 car in Germany and, while it’s safe and confident on the road, the Insignia is happiest at medium pace and not as fluid as the Mondeo or as relaxed as the Passat. The biggest disappointment is the steering, which feels numb around the straight-ahead position, but is very direct at the same time, with little play. That means the car can feel a little twitchy at high speed, because you get almost no sensation as the wheels first begin to turn, and it’s all too easy to turn too far too quickly.
There’s a wide choice of engines available in the Insignia range as a whole, but the choice in the saloon range is far more limited than in the hatchback – just 130 and 163PS versions of the 2.0-litre CDTi engine. Mind you, they both give decent performance, especially the stronger unit, which gets the car to 62mph in 9.5 seconds. The 130PS unit is quite a bit slower on paper, but not that far behind in the real world.
If you’re wedded to buying an Insignia saloon, it’s a shame that the new diesel engines that arrived with the facelift aren’t available with the saloon body. Both the 118- and 138bhp versions of the Ecoflex 2.0-litre diesel engine have CO2 emissions of just 99g/km – better than anything to be found in the Mondeo or Passat ranges – but the lowest CO2 emissions in the saloon range are 114g/km, with the 163PS version of the 2.0-litre CDTi engine.
Vauxhall has always sat somewhere in the middle when it comes to reliability surveys, and the launch of the lifetime warranty will ease the minds of some. Most Insignias come equipped with the 2-litre CDTi engine which is known to suffer problems with the diesel particulate filter. A regular burst along A-roads will ensure that the filter doesn’t get clogged up and therefore should remain trouble-free.
The Insignia performed very well in Euro NCAP crash tests, with a five-star rating and 94 per cent score for adult occupant protection. Every Insignia gets six airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programme and ISOFIX child seat mounting points fitted as standard, while SRi trim includes anti-whiplash front seat head restraints. A tyre-pressure monitoring system is optional across the range.
There’s a smaller range of trims in the saloon range than in the hatchback range, but you can choose from Design, SE, Elite and SRi, with SRi and Elite also available as a Nav version, with sat-nav included. Even the basic Design cars get good equipment levels including digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, alloy wheels, climate control and automatic lights. SRi models are sportier, with big wheels and sports suspension, while SE and Elite are discreet but full of toys, such as electric rear windows, automatic wipers and chrome-effect window surrounds (on SE), and dual-zone climate control, leather trim and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat with Elite.
With Ford abandoning the large saloon car market and sticking with hatchback versions of its Mondeo, the Insignia has few mainstream rivals. The saloon is the best-proportioned of the three Insignia body styles and looks stylish, with an almost upmarket look and feel. The inside is just as classy with quality materials used throughout.