What is it?
The shift from diesel back to petrol now finds itself in unfamiliar territory: a big, mass market family estate, the kind bought almost solely by black pump visitors for the past two decades or so.
This 197bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol is now available in the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, equipped with a six-speed automatic as a range-topping petrol drivetrain after the blink-and-you-miss it GSi version was dropped from sale last year. The engine first arrived in the Insignia last autumn in manual form, following a debut in the Astra a few years ago.
Diesel uptake for the Insignia has typically been around 95%; unsurprising, given how cars like the Insignia tend to notch up big miles in the hands of the fleet drivers and families who drive them. Yet Vauxhall, like all other car makers in the UK, is noticing a shift away from diesel after 'you know what', and is responding accordingly with more petrol alternatives like we’re testing here.
What's it like?
The petrol is a worthy alternative to the diesel in many ways: it revs nicely across the entire rev range, and pleasingly does without the breathlessness similar downsized turbo petrol engines typically suffer from as the revs build. The wide bands for both peak torque and power are testament to that.
The six-speed automatic is a good companion for it, too, being precise and responsive in its shifts both up and down, if lacking the overall silky smoothness well executed, more modern eight- and nine-speed autos provide. It’s every bit as quick off the line as the impressive 0-60mph time of 7.7sec suggests, too, and not too vocal with it. A diesel will hum along more quietly on a run, yet there’s no coarseness to the petrol in either acoustics or refinement.
Which makes the fact that the car has one big failing a bit of a shame. The economy just isn’t very good, averaging in the mid-30s on a run. Kudos to Vauxhall for publishing the official WLTP figures that back that up (a ‘combined low’ economy of 35.8mpg, and a ‘combined high’ of 38.7mpg). So any buyer will take on this car with eyes wide open and knowing what they’ll be getting, but anyone doing big miles best look elsewhere.
The rest of the package is the usual Insignia fare: a comfortable ride, lots of stability and plenty of grip while cornering to create the kind of car you’d gladly do a 200-mile drive in, but not one you’d pick out to blow away the cobwebs on a Sunday morning.