From £19,135
How suited is this estate to the demands of the business traveller? We found out over ten months

Why we’re running it: To discover if Vauxhall’s flagship offers an unbeatable mix of practicality, value and executive comfort in estate form

Month 10 - Month 9 - Month 8Month 7Month 6Month 5Month 4Month 3Month 2Month 1 - Prices and Specs

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Life with a Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: Month 10

Saying goodbye to the Insignia - 9th January 2018

Eleven months ago, when we started running the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer on the Autocar fleet, Britain’s future in Europe was as clear as mud, England only had one World Cup to their name and Manchester City were top of the league. Despite my unfounded optimism that all of these things would change, only one has…

But in that time we’ve learned everything there is to know about the 2.0-litre diesel-engined four-wheel drive Insignia estate, covering more than 11,000 miles across the UK. The point of Autocar’s long-term tests is to see how easy a car is to live with, how reliable it is and how much it costs to run. The Sports Tourer has provoked intrigue in all three areas.

Given that it’s the estate version of Vauxhall’s flagship model, you’d hope that the car’s practicality would be where it excels. It doesn’t disappoint.

The Insignia may not have the biggest load bay in its class, but the boot is still elephantine enough. At no point during our time with the car did anyone ever say, ‘Oh, this boot could do with being a bit bigger’. It’s had to carry three bicycles, the contents of a colleague’s apartment, Autocar’s entire roster of camera equipment and at times an actual human photographer.

The Sports Tourer offers more practicality than a lot of SUVs. A flat load lip reduces the awkward stacking of goods to an easy slide, while the rail ratchet dividers that come as part of the Flex Organiser pack make securing luggage a quick and easy task.

Vauxhall knows it has a fight on to keep the car competitive in the estate car fleet segment. This means that the Insignia is packed with great value safety equipment that also makes the car a doddle to live with over a prolonged period. Its lane keep assist technology is effective without being overbearing. Combine that with a well-honed cruise control system and you’ll find a car that comfortably voyages up and down the country’s motorway network.

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When it comes to reliability and cost, the biggest talking point on our car is its drivetrain. We chose to run a 2.0-litre diesel variant with four-wheel drive and a pair of turbochargers. The engine is perhaps the one area of the specification where, if I was buying the car myself, I’d perhaps tick a different box.

There’s no doubt that the motor punches enough to get you briskly up to speed on a slip road, and the torque means that when it is fully loaded with blokes and their bikes there is no noticeable loss in performance.

But with a CO2 figure of 187g/ km and economy that amounted to just 35mpg over our test, the high living costs outweigh the improved performance benefits over a lower-specification car in my mind. Although had I a company-funded fuel card, I’m sure I could be persuaded to opt for the extra power.

Those of you who follow our longterm tests closely will have read about the diesel particulate filter (DPF) issue that blotted an otherwise unblemished reliability copybook. I think we have to give Vauxhall the benefit of the doubt and assume that ours was an anomalous case.

However, running this car did peak my awareness of DPFs and I would recommend that any buyer read carefully into how their prospective car is covered by its warranty before buying a diesel. In terms of depreciation, it’s worth bearing in mind that the very topspec estates don’t hold their value as well as lower-spec variants, as second-hand buyers are generally looking for value in this segment.

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But in terms of equivalently specced rivals, the Insignia holds on just as well as key competitors at this price point. If depreciation is of major concern, then the more premium badge offerings from marques such as Audi will claw onto their pennies for longer after a larger initial outlay.

All of that being said, the four-wheel drive system came into its own when the Beast from the East hit last spring. Put it this way, there were only two cars on the snow-covered top floor of Autocar’s multi-storey car park that day, and the other had been left the night before. The optional winter pack also affords luxuries that I’d argue are worth forking out for.

A heated steering wheel, rear heated seats and heated front and rear screens were also a treat during those prevailing conditions and honestly knocked minutes off a commute for days on end throughout winter.

So what’s the overriding feeling after 11 months and 11,000 miles? At Autocar we are privileged to be in the position to jump out of a variety of cars and back into a long-term test car. Every time I stepped back into the Insignia, I did so with a sense of relief that I wouldn’t have to worry about fitting all my camera equipment in, or how comfortable I would be for the next 300-mile drive home. And I knew that the good-value safety kit and sprinkling of corporate luxuries, such as the wi-fi, or the crisp voice-activated handsfree phone system, would allow me to do as much business as is legal along the way.

That, honestly, feels right about where the Insignia should be.

Second Opinion

What impressed me most about the Insignia were the improvements made over the original. Its driving position is comfier, its interior is slightly plusher, it has better infotainment and it rides and handles better. And – dare I say it? – I reckon this is the most handsome Vauxhall launched in my Iifetime.

Kris Culmer

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Love it:

I’M FREE Vauxhall has got the hands-free phone set-up spot-on. Lovely clarity and connection.

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WARM HANDS Not sure how I’ll cope going forward without a heated steering wheel.

TRACTION IN ACTION The GKN-developed four-wheel drive finds traction where it shouldn’t.

Loathe it:

IRKSOME GIRTH The Insignia’s increased width hasn’t been matched by an increase in the size of parking spaces.

CONCEALED CONTROLS I recently drove an Astra and its climate control buttons were better placed, not hidden in a touchscreen.

Final mileage: 11,771

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Life with a Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: Month 9

Lifting the lid on the secret world of automotive photography - 27th December 2018

I am not saying all photographers are liars, but in order to capture some of the more magical shots that grace these pages, our nomadic tribe of staff snappers sometimes deploy a dollop of deception.

It’s not just a case of Photoshopping out a tripod stuck to the bonnet of a car; sometimes the car is being pushed at walking pace while appearing to break speed limits, or an entire location can be changed by stripping a new background into a shot. Mountains can be uprooted and even the sun removed and put somewhere else.

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One of their favourite tricks, though, is tracking, or car-to-car to give it a more transparent name. In safe environments we match the speed of the subject car to that of the tracking car and a photographer hangs out of the boot of the tracking car, finger on the button. Careful choice of shutter speed makes it all look like they’re at eleven tenths, but we rarely go above 25mph.

So what makes a good tracking car? Can our long-term Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer cut it? First, you need a large, preferably flat load bay for the photographer to lie down in. The Insignia Sports Tourer’s is enormous, so the cameraman can get as low as he likes. The absence of a load lip also means the camera can be held low over the bumper to improve the angle.

The next requirement is a set of harness points for man and kit. The optional rail divider system specced on our Insignia is optimal for this, especially if you need to tie down a tripod with bungee ropes. There are plenty of ‘Jesus handles’ if the harness need further securing, and the rear seatbelts are long enough to act as a backstop safety measure.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, you want a sophisticated ride. Harsh shudders through the damping will cause vibrations to echo through a lens, making it much harder to get the shot. Our Insignia has adaptive dampers that change according to the drive mode. Choose Tour and the car softens to a slow wallow, cradling the man behind the lens as he works away.

Finally, the ability to maintain a constant speed is paramount. Automatics don’t always lend themselves to this as they may change gear if the road undulates. Luckily, the Insignia’s cruise control is effective. Certain manufacturers’ models will deviate above and below the target speed, but the Vauxhall sticks at the requested velocity, no matter the gradient.

On a separate note, thanks to those readers who got in touch after the previous diesel particulate filter (DPF) issue that I experienced with the Sports Tourer.

It was insightful to hear about individual cases from across various marques. At the time I last reported on it, the Insignia had been fully repaired and I’m glad to report it’s running well now with no signs of recurrence. I’ve also been assured that the car’s extended 16-day stay in the workshop was down to it being a particularly busy period for the dealership in question, and evidently for the whole dealer network.

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Additionally, it’s worth noting that seven of those days counted as the lead time on sourcing the replacement part, as they tend not to go wrong very often. There’s no question that the work itself was carried out promptly.

Love it:

REVERSING CAMERA Rear sensors are clever enough to show cars coming perpendicularly on the reversing camera to prevent impacts when reversing.

Loathe it:

CLIMATE CHANGING I’ve recently driven the Astra and it gets a more sensible climate control button layout than this flagship Insignia has.

Mileage: 11,444

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Life with a Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: Month 8

Keeping caffeinated - 24th October 2018

It’s time to admit I’ve got a drinking habit. That’s to say, I’ll often find myself juggling an iced latte mocha chocaccino, a high-sugar-tax-band soft drink, a large bottle of water and a flask of coffee from the driver’s seat all at once. Handily, the Insignia’s cubbies are cavernous and manifold. They swallow even more caffeinated goodness than I do.

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Mileage: 11,053

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Our Insignia seems particularly partial to particulate parts - 10th October 2018

Diesel ain’t that bad, right? That’s what we keep shouting, anyway, along with various industry bigwigs denouncing its demonisation. Well, the following episode has undermined my confidence somewhat.

Our fleet Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer was unable to regenerate its diesel particulate filter (DPF). DPFs are designed to capture the black soot traditionally associated with diesel exhausts in order to help keep emissions down. The idea is they then clean themselves, or ‘regenerate’, during sustained periods of higher-rev driving by burning this soot out of the filter. DPFs normally clog up, therefore, if you only do short, staccato runs.

But I do loads of motorway driving. You’ll have seen my previous reports in which the Insignia has heaved camera kit, bicycles or my Lycra-clad mates along the M4 time and again.

You can imagine my dropped jaw, then, when the Vauxhall went into limp mode. Earlier, a warning message had sprung up on the dash: ‘Continue driving,’ it howled. So I did. Even though I really had somewhere I needed to be (I was hungry). Ten minutes or so later a second message popped up. The filter had been unable to regenerate itself, the engine warning light glowed under my steering wheel and the car fell into limp mode.

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At this point the handbook recommends taking the car to a dealership. So I rang and spoke to a variety of such franchises. Three weeks was the longest wait before the car could be seen, nine days was the shortest, which I duly booked.

“Am I all right to drive the car in the meantime, then?” I asked. “No.” “Okay, do you have any courtesy cars?” The answer from all dealerships was that it would be at least two weeks until a courtesy car became available. But I live in the countryside and need to travel to work. Presumably it’s a warranty part, anyway? The response I received was thus: “Well, it’s not necessarily a warranty part. Vauxhall technicians will judge whether it’s under warranty based on your style of driving.”

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They later decided that my 10,000 miles in six months was the style of driving that would warrant warranty treatment. But my astonishment here was twofold. Firstly, if my style of driving had been judged to be ‘incorrect’ – i.e. I only drove short distances – then I’d have to pay for it. And second, the Insignia’s 2.0-litre diesel engine is only managing to return 34.1mpg. I can’t imagine those who spend even more time on the motorway than I do would really want to give it a regular bootful for fear of cleaning out their wallet with a load of black soot.

The DPF on our car was discovered to be irreparable. The part had to be ordered from Germany, according to the dealership, so in total I was without a car for 16 days after just eight months of running it.

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Honestly, the engine has felt like a 2.0-litre diesel-powered elephant in the room throughout my tenure. Emitting 186g/km of CO2 and with an NEDC combined figure of just 40.4mpg, it’s a really hard specification to justify.

There are plenty of other redeeming grounds on which to recommend the Sports Tourer – space, practicality, safety kit – but just be careful which box you tick in the powertrain section, especially given the political climate around it and the filter on the back.

Love it:

DASHING LOOKS It’s handsome enough to park in any CEO’s spot when I’ve visited car manufacturers.

Loathe it:

VOICE RECOGNITION I still haven’t mastered the right accent to operate the voice control. I’ll try a Luton one next.

Mileage: 10,861

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An unexpected dealer visit - 19th September 2018

The Insignia is at a dealership after dropping into limp mode. It’s the diesel particulate filter (DPF), which captures diesel exhaust soot, blasting it out during sustained periods of driving at more than 2000rpm. DPFs tend to get clogged up if you do short staccato journeys. I don’t. So we’ll need to find out what’s gone wrong.

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Mileage: 10,620

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Life with a Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: Month 7

Family load-lugger ferries three amateur pedal-pushers to the Tour de Wales - 22nd August 2018

It was one of the more painful weekends I can remember. ‘Sports Tourer,’ they call this Insignia derivative. That’s Vauxhall’s marketing pidgin for an estate. So I took it on a ‘sports tour’. Well, a lads’ cycling trip to the Brecon Beacons of an August weekend.

I’ve enjoyed sporadic stints of sustained, semi-serious cycling over the years, but these were my first pedal strokes for some time. Think of it less as a mid-life crisis and more of the ‘Tour de France’ effect. A Welsh bloke wore yellow in Paris, so surely three fat English blokes could ride up a Welsh hillock or six? Pah.

Loading the car, I was nervous. Two bikes plus passengers would be easy but a third might be pushing it. But with just the front wheel off each bike and some old pillows to protect the frames from one another, we slid all three bikes into the boot with ease.

Our declared luggage allowance had been ‘a small sports bag’, but like every budget airline flight you’ve ever embarked on, there was one fella bending the rules with a satchel big enough to have been John Candy’s bobsleigh. Yet the Insignia swallowed the lot, with the 60:40 split folding rear seats allowing a back-seat passenger to sit among the sextet of carbonfibre bicycle fork legs.

The Insignia’s dynamics didn’t change dramatically despite the considerable load, and be it on motorway or horsebox-riddled Welsh country road, the ride remained unflustered. The nature of the car leans more toward ‘Tourer’ than ‘Sports’, wafting as it did through Monmouthshire and Powys, so you tend to drive it more like a gentle cycle to the pub than a sprint along the Champs Elysées.

A few roads in south Wales have been fodder for our photographers for two score years and more. Having joined the snappers in video capacity, I’d occasionally seen a cyclist pound their way up the hillside and into the clouds. Somewhere along the line I thought: ‘I want to give that a go.’

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Unlike most of our shoots, though, the sun was well and truly out. It was 27deg C as we finished squeezing into our Lycra like Welsh lamb being forced through a sausage maker. “Just 45 miles?” questioned my mate. “I’d have thought you’d plan a 60-mile route.” He was blissfully unaware of the hills to come.

In a supercar, the ascent up so-called Black Mountain goes by in a flash, with a hairpin on the way for rear-axle entertainment. In the Vauxhall, you note the automatic gearbox shifting down while you admire the lumpy view passing briskly before you.

On a bicycle, you sway, sweat and swear for 40 minutes of relentless grind, nearly toppling off as the road doubles back on itself at the steepest point in the middle of four hours of exercise. A five-mile hill averaging more than 6% is enough to split up a professional cycling race, so for us who only ride twice a year, our calf muscles were screaming louder than the AMG V8 that I last followed up this same stretch.

And the second ride of the year was the very next day. Painful? Absolutely. Masochistic? Certainly. Stupid? Probably. At a temperature of 34deg C, the 80 mountainous miles bordered on self-harm.

At the end of it all sat the Insignia, waiting to sweep up our sodden chamois and squeaking aluminium. The air-con vents that blow out of the centre console into the rear seats saved the most portly member of our peloton from heatstroke. Meanwhile, the accommodating seats and lumbar support meant those up front, both on the bike and in the car, could travel home with what felt like cascades of comfort in the saddle area.

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Successful sports tour sorted with minimum faff, maybe it won’t be so long before the next significant spell in the saddle. Maybe.

Love it:

REVERSING CAMERA The reversing camera helps you park far enough away from obstacles to unload your bikes.

Loathe it:

A GLINT IN YOUR EYE At some angles, the sun reflects off the Vauxhall badge on the steering wheel and right in the driver’s eye.

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Mileage: 10,328

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Time for that other kind of top-up - 8th August 2018

It all seemed a little dramatic. ‘Action required’ the dashboard shouted. ‘Engine restart prevented in so-and-so miles’. Soon after passing the 9000-mile mark, our Insignia Sports Tourer needed a top up of AdBlue, the fluid that keeps diesel emissions down. I bought and inserted five litres. Not enough, apparently. Another 10 litres were sufficient to arrest the dashboard hissy fit.

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Mileage: 9108

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Life with a Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: Month 6

The best tool for the job - 25th July 2018

One of the scribes at Autocar Towers needed to score a few points with his better half and help her move house. What was his pick of our test fleet? The Insignia Sports Tourer, of course. With 1665 litres of space available when the rear seats are folded down, they managed to fit in all of her belongings, delivering lady, load and love in one fell swoop.

Mileage: 9069

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Like the Stones, we have our very own mobile recording studio - 4th July 2018

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Let me explain. When you watch one of our Autocar video reviews on YouTube, you’ll hear a voiceover. In order to commit this to tape, we have to find as silent a space as possible, because the sensitive microphones pick up every squeak, raindrop and passing aircraft in glorious high definition.

Luckily, car makers tend to spend a lot of time soundproofing their cabins to eliminate road and wind noise at motorway speeds. This makes the rear seat of a car about as good a place as you’ll find to record voiceover without building your own bespoke sound booth.

So how does our Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer stack up as a recording studio? The truth is: quite well. As you can see, the increased rear leg room over the previous generation means there’s ample space for the microphone, stand and presenter.

Soundproofing is good too. It’s not as well noise-damped as, say, the Bentley Bentayga that we ran on our fleet last year, but it’s certainly good enough as long as you’re not parked next to a revving V10. (Yes, we did use the Bentley as a sound booth too – spoilt, I know.)

That reflects itself in road noise. On the motorway, the Insignia Sports Tourer is perhaps a little louder inside than more premium, more expensive rivals such as a BMW 520d Touring, but it’s certainly accomplished enough for the price bracket that it’s in. You do not, for example, have to raise voices to hold a conversation when up to speed.

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Its 1956cc twin-turbo diesel, which puts out 207bhp, does fade to a distant rumble on a motorway. But under the sudden acceleration of a quiet morning’s commute, the kickdown and resulting blow of puff to get car and driver up to speed noticeably reverberate around the cockpit, although not immoderately compared with direct rivals.

The specification of our Sports Tourer contributes to this too. A two-wheel-drive equivalent would almost certainly be a quieter drivetrain to run, but I wouldn’t trade the car’s winter performance that we highlighted in previous reports for a more tranquil ride.

Additionally, the 20in alloy wheels undoubtedly transfer more sound from the Tarmac into the cabin than the 18in options that you can put on a lower-spec version. These are, however, standard with this powertrain and the chosen Elite Nav level of trim. In my eyes, smaller wheels would compromise the alluring looks of the long, sleek wagon too. Call me vain.

This trim level does have a weapon up its sleeve to combat what road and wind noise there is, however. The seven-speaker Bose sound system provides a crisp alternative to conversation and the presence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto means you have your favourite tunes readily available, even after you’ve exhausted the exhaustive DAB radio channel list.

So that’s the secret: a good quality video is very much dictated by the quality of cabin isolation from road noise. In this department, our Vauxhall Insignia proves more than adequate and, if you were so inclined, you could doubtlessly specify an even quieter one to come out of Rüsselsheim.

Although it’s no Abbey Road, the Sports Tourer remains a good companion for sound recordists, or even just those after a reasonably quiet ride.

Love it:

FLAT LOAD LIP Using the car’s boot to move an apartment’s contents was easy.

Loathe it:

WINDSCREEN WASHER JETS They are aimed too low on the screen so I have to time my squirts to get maximum coverage.

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Mileage: 7746

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Life with the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: Month 5

An unlikely drag star - 27th June 2018

It’s the end of a long day of filming drag racing at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground and almost a mile of temptingly empty runway lies in front of our Insignia Sports Tourer. There’s only one thing for it: 210 horses drag 1.6 tonnes up to 125mph before I feel it wise to get off the gas. At that speed, the car is remarkably stable. There’s no need for it, but it’s nice to know it can.

Mileage: 7366

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I know where I’d rather be - 13th June 2018

You won’t believe me, but for the 177 miles from Shrewsbury to home, I wished I was in our Insignia Sports Tourer instead of the Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder. True, the previous leg from Snowdonia to Greggs in Bayston Hill was one of the best drives of my life. But there’s a lot to be said for the Vauxhall’s lumbar support versus a carbonfibre bucket in Friday night’s M40 chaos.

Mileage: 7196

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Singing the praises of Stop/Start - 30th May 2018

Twice in VWs I have experienced the stop/start function engaging and the power steering locking up while the speedo read three or four miles per hour. No such problem in our Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: the stop/start system kicks in well after the car is stationary and responds quickly to any throttle input at traffic lights. Sensible, and bleeding obvious, but appreciated.

Mileage: 6664

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Life with the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: Month 4

As the picture suggests, our car isn’t always the star of the show - 16th May 2018

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I had intended to write about Brexit and being a ‘British brand since 1903’, as the Vauxhall radio ad goes. I had intended to praise the PSA Group on investing in Vauxhall’s light commercial vehicle production in Luton. I had intended to be asleep right now.

I am, though, sitting in A&E and I’m bored. Three hours and 58 minutes ago, I was watching another trashy late-night documentary on another conspiracy theory about another missing passenger flight, waiting for my McLaren Senna video edit to go live on Autocar’s YouTube site.

The dog started to bark. There was banging at the window. Shouting. Not an intruder. Grandad has come up from the shed he lives in at the bottom of Mum’s garden. He’s bleeding profusely from the leg. And when I say profusely, I mean by the pint.

The Aussie on the other end of my 999 call asks if it’s more than two coffee cups he has lost. I’m not sure if he means espresso cups or latte glasses. Either way, the answer is yes. The ex-undercover-law-enforcer who I also live with is already applying pressure to the wound.

Three hours and 48 minutes ago, the ambulance turned up with great haste, phenomenal calm and a decked-out Mercedes wagon. Peter and John – the paramedics, not the Bible characters – note it’s a burst varicose vein and bandage him up.

Three hours and 24 minutes ago, he’s loaded up and off he goes. Cue the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer.

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It’s a refined waft in the wee hours, the loudest noise in the cabin being my hands on the steering wheel. Perhaps too quiet for my pale mother who’s looking like she’s going to faint. She’s not good with blood or coffee cups.

So, to distract her, I show her how Vauxhall’s Intellilux LED headlights cleverly patch out passing traffic from the full beams so I, the driver, get maximum visibility but don’t blind other motorists.

Two hours and 59 minutes ago, we arrived at A&E, where the staff are marvellous. If you need any further evidence of the quality work that highly qualified internationals do in our health service, come and spend nearly three hours here.

It’s 2.49am as I start to write this. We’ve been seen by a nurse but are in the middle of a long wait for a doctor. Grandad is reading Autocar as it’s the only distraction I’ve brought and, having never driven in his 81 years, he asks when Reliant went out of business. He likes the picture of Matt Prior drifting the Morgan 3 Wheeler, you see.

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Four o’clock in the morning soon passes. The doctors patch Grandad up and discharge him with a professionalism that seems unnatural for the time of day. The Insignia feels wide as I drag it out of the concrete multi-storey car park, but every inch of the improved interior space comes in handy, loading Grandad from a wheelchair into the reclined passenger seat.

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I put the estate into its softest ‘Tour’ setting, to keep the still-bloodied patient as comfortable as possible. At this time in the morning, the roads are empty. But, still, Vauxhall’s abundance of standard safety equipment comes as welcome reassurance that we won’t be making an immediate return to Frimley Park Hospital, where I must give great credit to all the wonderful staff.

Love it:

COMFY DRIVER’S SEAT Electronic lumbar support for the driver makes getting comfortable easy on long journeys

Loathe it:

SQUEAKY THROTTLE A minor squeak has developed in the throttle pedal on longer journeys. Turn the radio up.

Mileage: 6121

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Keeping connected - 9th May 2018

Business buyers are big business for the Insignia: in-car 4G wi-fi hotspot must be hot stuff to them. I’m in the imaging business, so uploading files on the go is absolutely my business, and a multi-megabit transfer proved a decent test at Beaconsfield services. A couple of minutes later, the visual accompaniment to my next long-term report was on the web. Speedy business.

Vauxhall insignia longterm review wifi hotspot

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Mileage: 5968

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Life with the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: Month 3

Our estate played the perfect host on a busy Easter weekend - 25th April 2018

It’s the Easter bank holiday. The M40 turns into its very own Highway of Death as the mass evacuation of southern suburbia feels like the single-file traffic jam of an Iraqi diaspora. Cars strewn by the side of the road, oil everywhere it shouldn’t be and Warwick services in the same state of disrepair as Basra.

Like 19 million others, I’m spending Good Friday and Easter Monday on the road. My abandonment of south London entails the all-important quarterly parachute drop into the out-laws, stationed ‘on’t Moors’ just outside Manchester. The 500-mile round trip is a good test to see how leggy, refined and bomb-proof the Insignia is.

Lane Keep Assist comes into its own over this distance. On the rare stretches of motorway where the 20in alloy wheels are allowed to get up to speed, the safety system takes some of the stress out of a long journey. I can feel it nudging the steering back into the centre of the lane and it allows the driver to trust the car’s positioning and relax a little.

Up front in the cockpit, the pilot’s seat adjusts in all sorts of ways to aid the relaxed feel too. There’s electronic lumbar support and a steering wheel that moves up, down, forward, backwards and over the Persian gulf, as the old folk ditty goes.

Our car also has a wi-fi hotspot. On previous trips, there’s been a comms blackout west of the Chiltern hills when trying to stream music on a mobile device. But when my wingwoman wants to wave her jazz hands to the depths of Spotify’s archive, we’re uninterrupted when connected to wi-fi. And that’s important because we’re the type of couple who sing along. But we’re both atrocious singers.

As such, it’s imperative that we have a decent sound system to drown out the missed high notes. Luckily, the Bose speakers can provide. In our opening report, Steve Cropley alluded to increased road noise in this spec over other versions of the Insignia: a result, he proposed, of the four-wheeldrive transmission and, I propose, of the larger optional wheels.

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It’s true, the Insignia’s road noise is noticeable, but at this price point you can’t expect a total limousine-like experience. And when the sound system is off, we certainly don’t have to raise our voices to hold a conversation. I wouldn’t trade the all-wheel-drive performance that came in handy in the snow, as mentioned in previous reports, for a quieter ride.

There’s one other foible of this specification on a trip like this: fuel economy. The 2.0-litre biturbo diesel is achieving 35.4mpg over a mix of London potholes, motorway chugging and a cross-country, northern A-road. Vauxhall only claims a combined figure of 40.4, so our figure is about as expected in the real world.

While it continues to improve from our early reports as we run the car in (the range has gone up by about a third), this is arguably the only reason I’d rather be in Iraq: for the fuel prices.

This mix of road surfaces also confirms my favoured drive mode. ‘Tour’ offers a waftier ride and lighter steering than ‘Sport’ or ‘Normal’ (although those are customisable). So, with the safety systems on, ‘Tour’ selected and the tunes ringing out, Vauxhall’s flagship chews up the miles. While the carnage ensues around us, the interior of the Insignia is a picture of serenity.

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Love it:

IN-CAR WI-FI The network is great for streaming music and offers a so-far-uninterrupted 4G service.

Loathe it:

VOICE CONTROL I’ve had to learn another language to use it, memorising new pronunciations of my phone book.


Mileage: 5466

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On reflection, some things are worth keeping - 11th April 2018

A colleague once pronounced in these pages: the vanity mirror is dead! He feels a smartphone set to ‘selfie’ mode is now of sufficient quality to use as a mirror when applying his blusher in the passenger seat. My bowls partner and I disagree. She styles her lippy on the way to the mats and the brightness of the Insignia’s sun-visor lights, one either side of the mirror, is important.

Mileage: 4016

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Life with the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: Month 2

Exploring the drive modes - 28th March 2018

Our Sports Tourer has three drive modes. ‘Sport’ and ‘Normal’ can be customised to set up the chassis, steering weight and engine response. This affords the luxury of combining maximum performance and sportier suspension with the lightest steering. ‘Tour’, meanwhile, offers a lazy waft that suits both motorway touring and speed-hump wrestling.

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Mileage: 3192

Vauxhall insignia sports touring longterm drive modes

Our wagon was well prepared for the Beast from the East - 14th March 2018

February was freezing, wasn’t it? Well, it certainly felt it, standing on an Oxfordshire verge, filming m’colleague Matt Prior buzz up and down in a Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T, with his heated seats and his throaty V8 to keep him warm. Luckily, my load-lugger of choice, our Insignia Sports Tourer, is well equipped to deal with the ‘Beast from the East’, ‘Polar Vortex’ or any other tabloid-headline-weather-front nature could chuck at it.

That’s largely down to the new ‘intelligent’ all-wheel-drive system. The GKN-developed system comprises a pair of clutch packs on the rear axle electronically delivering torque vectoring – the first time such a system has appeared on a four-wheel-drive Vauxhall. The torque distribution adapts to steering and throttle inputs as well as road conditions to apportion power to the inside or outside rear wheel and increase stability in all conditions. And it really works. There’s no hint of understeer in freezing temperature, in snow, or in lashing rain.

On my commute to Autocar Towers, there’s a steep hill start out of a partially unsighted junction. Where many front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive test cars have slipped before, the Insignia’s eight-speed auto hooks up on request to smoothly and briskly tackle the ascent, without hesitation or squeal. For a 1633kg large executive estate, the traction is really rather impressive.

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Vauxhall insignia sports touring longterm snow

But it’s not just the dynamics of our Sports Tourer that coped with the Arctic conditions. We specced the optional, but feature loaded, Winter Pack 2 for £400. So the car not only has heated front seats with three temperature settings but also a heated steering wheel, front windscreen and rear windscreen.

As part of the infotainment system, the driver can choose to receive – and trust me I have – what the Vauxhall marketing department terms a ‘Warm Welcome’. No, not a hug and a cup of char. Rather, the car judges the exterior temperature and sets the heated leather seats appropriately when you jump in. Heated buttocks are an essential part of any warm welcome, I find.

In the Insignia, this is not a luxury consigned only to the front row either. Rear-seat passengers, who for years have been without one of the essential ingredients of a warm welcome, have been liberated by Luton’s flagship.

Other extremities that can now be kept at an optimum temperature include the driver’s hands. Being of a generally clammy genetic disposition, I didn’t initially think I’d get on with the heated leather steering wheel. But, by gum, is it a game changer at –2deg C when you’ve just been working outdoors without gloves for four hours. Now I use it all the time.

Interestingly, when we first collected the Insignia, I feared fighting the frost might be an area where the Vauxhall would fall short of its main Czech rival. The Skoda Superb Estate comes with an ice-scraper stowed in the fuel cover that’s one of the cleverest touches on the market. But I needn’t have worried. Very occasionally, in certain light, I can spot the fine wire element that constitutes the heated front windscreen on the Insignia. Partnered with a heated rear screen and wing mirrors, there’s no need to even consider getting your cuffs wet.

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As I stand in the cold filming my colleagues in supercars, I can’t wait for spring to have properly sprung. But, frankly, the Insignia will take your ‘Polar Vortex’ and show you where to stick it.

Love it:

PRACTICAL STORAGE The FlexOrganiser system of rails and divider nets makes loading my video kit easy and keeps it secure.

Loathe it:

BLANK BUTTONS In the climate-control cluster, there are two blank buttons that could’ve housed the two functions hidden behind the touchscreen.

Mileage: 2448

Vauxhall insignia sports touring longterm ferrari

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Life with the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer: Month 1

Welcoming the Insignia Sports Tourer to our fleet – 21st February 2018

This 67-plate Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer lands on our shores having been on quite a journey.

As you will have read in these pages, the Vauxhall and Opel badges had long been foundering under GM ownership. They declared losses of £190 million in the second quarter of 2017 (an average of £3m a day), before the high-profile takeover by PSA Group at the end of last year. As the listing begins to settle under the new admiralty, it is paramount that the marque’s new flagship leads the incoming flotilla of models – that will in future be based on shared PSA Group architecture – to forecast profit in 2020.

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And so it’ll have been with a wide grin that PSA boss Carlos Tavares received the news that 100,000 orders of the second-generation Insignia, which we’ll be running, have already been taken in its first year on sale. The tide starts to turn. A new era begins. Exciting times. As it is for us, running the D-segment fleet favourite in Sports Tourer form.

Vauxhall insignia sports tourer longterm 4

Ours, appropriately, has been given the honourable task of voyaging up and down the country’s motorways with a videographer and all his kit on board – similar to how a lot of business drivers will use the car (albeit with a few more lenses and tripods). And we’ve specced it accordingly. To give our car its full name, it is a Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer Elite Nav 2.0 210PS BiTurbo D 4x4 Auto.

Let me break that down for you. ‘Sports Tourer’, as you can see, is marketing pidgin for ‘estate’. More than 135 litres have been added over the predecessor’s boot capacity.

Larger than a Ford Mondeo Estate’s loadspace, but not quite as big as that of the more expensive Volkswagen Passat, it’s suitably cavernous to swallow the entire Autocar video kit when the rear seats are folded down.

Now, the eight-speed auto ’box was a no-brainer given the mileage that the Insignia will have to deal with. And we’ve paired it with the higher-powered turbocharged diesel unit that produces 207bhp. This engine will be remapped and re-tuned in the upcoming hot GSi variant of the Insignia due this year. Here’s hoping for a hearty blend of response, economy and cruising comfort over the next few months.

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The four-wheel-drive system will likely get a good run out on some wet and cold Welsh mountainsides. Which leads me to the first of our optional extras: Winter Pack 2 (£400). Seats front and rear are heated, as is the front windscreen and steering wheel: a luxury that’s hard to live without after it has been experienced for the first time.

These are on top of a gargantuan list of features that come as standard with the Elite Nav level of trim, including European sat-nav, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bose sound system, 8in touchscreen, DAB radio, leather seats, cruise control, Isofix points, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking.

Also standard-fit, the IntelliLux Matrix LED headlights are breathtakingly effective. When switched to full beam, they detect traffic and patch out one LED at a time so as not to blind other road users while maximising the driver’s view.

Driver Assist Pack 4 chucks in even more safety features. These include a blind-spot sensor, parking sensors and a rear-view camera – all handy given the large barge’s track has been widened by 11mm for this generation. At £650, these seem a bargain compared with the options lists of slightly more premium badges.

The penultimate box ticked was another slam dunk at £120, the FlexOrganiser: a simple set of rails and ratchets in the boot that allow you to harness kit – and, in controlled environments, photographers – flexibly.

Finally, we added the £565 Flip Chip Silver two-coat metallic paint. It’s an iridescent light blue in colder light that completes what is a rakishly handsome design.

Now, ordinarily, we wouldn’t pass too much comment on a car’s looks. Being subjective and all that, we tend to let you make your own mind up. However, given that the bloke who designed the thing (Mark Adams, Vauxhall’s design chief) took time out of his busy schedule to hand over the keys to our new motor, we may as well pass on a nugget or two of insight.

Vauxhall insignia sports tourer longterm 9

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Adams tells us that, as with much of the current range, there is heavy influence from the ‘Monza Concept’ that appeared at Frankfurt in 2013. You can see this especially in the headlights and the stylish ‘tick’ that flows down the side of the car.

So important is it to Vauxhall that this car creates a premium aura that Adams’ design team were involved from its very inception. Indeed, the all-new chassis architecture being used at the Rüsselsheim assembly plant was adapted geometrically to meet aesthetic requirements.

The metallic window surround that stretches from bonnet to boot helps to make the car look much longer, lower and wider – a feat that Adams is rightly proud of. All the while, interior touches have improved rear seat space and boot capacity.

Of course, all of these design touches will make the Insignia Sports Tourer more appealing to the business buyer and the fleet co-ordinator, and also to us.

We regularly turn up to various manufacturer HQs with a bootload of equipment, and desire comfort, premium infotainment and unassuming looks along the way. So over the next few months, we’ll ask if the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer will be more executive than the Superb, more practical than the Mondeo, better value than the Passat and find the sweet spot in the large executive value estate market.

If so, it may well lead the much-needed fightback for Vauxhall.

Mitch McCabe

Second Opinion

I did most of the first break-in miles in the Insignia after we took delivery. Two things stand out: a dramatic improvement in fuel mileage on the open road (the trip computer now shows 40mpg) and extra road noise because it’s a 4x4. No disaster, but worth knowing before you pay for extra traction.

Steve Cropley

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Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer Elite Nav 2.0 210PS BiTurbo D 4x4 Auto specification

Prices: List price new £29,960 List price now £32,060 Price as tested £31,695 Dealer value now £20,649 Private value now £18,355 Trade value now £18,762 (part exchange)

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Options:Driver Assist Pack 4 (£650), Metallic paint (£565), Winter Pack 2 (£400), Flex Organiser (£120)

Fuel consumption and range: Claimed economy 39.8xmpg Fuel tank 62 litres Test average 34.98mpg Test best 40.1mpg Test worst 32.1mpg Real-world range 477 miles

Tech highlights: 0-62mph 7.5sec Top speed 144mph Engine 4-cylinder, 1965cc diesel Max power 207bhp at 4000rpm Max torque 354lb ft at 1500rpm Transmission 8-speed automatic Boot capacity 560 litres Wheels 8.5Jx20in alloy Tyres 245/35 R20, Continental SportContact 6 Kerb weight 1633kg

Service and running costs: Contract hire rate £303.95 CO2 187g/km Service costs £25.40 (AdBlue) Other costs None Fuel costs £2014.02 Running costs inc fuel £2049.42 Cost per mile 17.7 pence Depreciation £11,198 Cost per mile inc dep’n £1.15 Faults Blocked DPF (fixed under warranty)

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Join the debate

Add a comment…
nakifak 6 November 2018

Thank you! http://chouraha

nicebiscuit 6 November 2018

This is appalling service.

This one experience alone would be enough to ensure I never buy a Vauxhall, let alone a Vauxhall diesel.   Contrast with my experience with Toyota when my battery died in the first year.   They recovered the car to the dealership and returned same day with new battery.   No quibbling about how the car had actually sat around quite a lot of the time, which would at least partially explain the issue...

Local Peugeot dealer have also managed to fix a number issues same day when it was mega urgent for personal reasons, so decent service must be possible even from non premium marques.

Another thought - arent they starting to fit particulate filters to petrol engines too?  In which case avoiding diesel isnt going to help...


Jeremy 14 August 2018

Windscreen washers?

I can't believe Autocar are moaning about the windscreen washers being too low on the windscreen? Well adjust them! Next you'll be moaning that the seat is too near the wheel!