From £17,1857
Low-rung estate model offers great value for money, albeit with little shine or excitement

What is it?

The new Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer range aims to undercut its rivals with maximum value for money, and no model does it better than this: the Design Nav.

It sits one rung up the trim ladder and therefore comes with a lightened version of its siblings’ standard kit lists, but you still get the same bragworthy storage space, smart exterior looks and, as this is a Nav model, a touchscreen with satellite navigation.

As you’ll know if you read our review of the higher-specced SRi Nav, the new larger Sports Tourer can swallow more luggage than its archrival, the Ford Mondeo Estate, beating that car by 60-litres whether the rear seats are up or down with 560 or 1665 litres of space respectively.

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Admittedly that’s 90 and 115 litres off the impressive Volkswagen Passat Estate, but when you consider that the car we’re testing today, a Design Nav with a 1.5-litre petrol engine that costs from £19,480, undercuts its German rival by almost £4000, that loss seems fair. Even VW's Volkswagen Golf Estate costs about £1000 more, and that smaller car slots into the class below.

The Sport Tourer's turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder promises respectable performance too. Vauxhall claims 138bhp and 184lb ft of torque, enabling 47.1mpg combined and CO2 emissions of 136g/km. The 1.5-litre car can carry payloads of up to 593kg and tow an unbraked trailer weighing 730kg.

Like the rest of the range, this low-end Sports Tourer gets a slightly stiffer four-link rear suspension setup to the Grand Sport hatch. However, unlike the rest of the range, the Design and Design Nav models don’t get standard-fit electric folding rear seats. Nevertheless, they can be optioned in, as can a powered tailgate.

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What's it like?

Even in lower-spec form, the latest Insignia is a vastly better place to sit than the old one. The cleanly shaped dashboard and clutter-free centre console is a marked step up and, in terms of design, brings the new car into line with its rivals.

Crucially, while our Design Nav may lack certain features, it still gets an 8in touchscreen infotainment system with 3D mapping, DAB radio and three USB ports (two in the back), as well as Bluetooth connectivity.

The system isn’t the best in the class to use, but the addition of OnStar wifi hotspot technology and smartphone connectivity, via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, mean it’s by far the most generously equipped at this price level. It makes justifying the £795 premium for a Design Nav over a Design easy.

Things aren’t so clear-cut with the car’s powerplant, however. Its 1.5-litre engine feels nippy and pulls strongly enough through its mid-range, but it runs out of puff early on despite not producing peak power until 5600rpm, meaning it lacks character. Clearly, it’s not an engine interested in (or capable of) competing with Ford’s higher-revving petrol alternatives.

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Equipped with 17in alloy five-spoke wheels – standard on both Design models – the car has a soft ride that rolls and leans through the bends. This makes the car feel unnerving at pace through country roads and waffley at urban pace.

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Nevertheless, Vauxhall has placed much focus on ensuring the car is easy to drive on motorways, so has given the car steering that requires little correction to keep the car straight-ahead and standard-fit cruise control.

But, as we saw with the SRi Nav we drove earlier, the Sports Tourer can’t prevent large amounts of road noise pouring into the cabin. On certain road surfaces it can be a dominating part of the experience, and only on smoother motorway surfaces does the hiss of rubber hitting tarmac subside to normal levels.

At least the passengers will be comfortable, because the new Sports Tourer has generous amounts of rear legroom thanks to its extended body. The car’s roofline refrains from tapering down at the back so headspace is also good.

Should I buy one?

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If you’ve read our other Insignia reviews the answer we give here will be a familiar one - sorry about that. Subjectively speaking, the Sports Tourer Design Nav with a 1.5-litre engine is far from the best in its class, offering little in the way of excitement and lagging behind rivals in terms of in dynamic ability.

But, and this is a big but here, objectively speaking, it offers all of the things many buyers in this class desire for a significant amount cheaper than rival models. Which, you might not be surprised to hear, is no accident.

Vauxhall has very deliberately worked on all of the areas the previous car lacked in – boot space, design and infotainment are three standout areas – and ensured they are among the best in the class in its new car. A large portion of motorists after an affordable estate will very much appreciate that, while being able to look over the car’s other downfalls quite easily.

Of course, if you’re after something engaging, enthusiastic and more refined on the road, you’ll be better off looking elsewhere in the class. But just be prepared to pay a fair bit more to get there.

Location Kemble, UK; On sale Now; Price £19,480; Price as tested £19,765; Engine 4cyls in line, 1490cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 138bhp at 5600rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 2000-4100rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerbweight 1487kg; 0-60mph 9.6sec; Top speed 129mph; Economy 47.1mpg; CO2 139g/km Rivals: Ford Mondeo EstateVolkswagen Passat Estate

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xxxx 26 June 2017

Ford in lala land with their prices

To put it into context a Mondeo 1.5 Ecoboost estate Titanium is £26,296, that’s nearly a whopping £7,000 more for a car that’s not quite as good (IMHO). Even the near poverty spec Zetec comes in at £24,700, £5,000 more, insane!!
michael knight 24 June 2017

Yep...good value. And, for

Yep...good value. And, for the first time in ever, i find a Vauxhall attractive. I think they did a great job on the Insignia tourer, looks really good at least in higher-spec cars.
Mikey C 23 June 2017

That's a lot of car for the

That's a lot of car for the money...