From £19,1357
Potent petrol engine brings impressive drivability to the Insignia, yet the economy is unlikely to win over anyone switching from diesel
Mark Tisshaw
30 January 2019

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.

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The cabin lacks the class of the likes of the Volkswagen Passat, yet the controls are nicely laid out. It's comfortable, spacious (that boot is 560 litres and a good shape for bulkier items), and not wanting for creature comforts in this admittedly high-spec example. 

Should I buy one?

With that economy figure, this new petrol version of the Insignia will remain a niche choice. Even more so in this Elite Nav trim level, that with a few option boxes ticked comes to £36,595 as tested here. Which is a shame, as it’s a nice drivetrain in a nice car. 

The sweetspot of the Insignia range is lower down, in both trim and engine choice where you can comfortably find another £10,000 in your back pocket. But perhaps what this new petrol version stands for most of all is an advert for how viable diesel still is as a fuel for so many in cars like this. 

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer Elite Nav 1.6 200 Turbo auto specification

Where Suffolk Price £32,350 On sale Now Engine 4 cyls, 1598cccc, turbocharged, petrol Power 197bhp at 4700-5500rpm Torque 221lb ft at 1700-4700rpm Gearbox 6-spd auto Kerb weight 1552kg Top speed 143mph 0-60mph 7.7sec Fuel economy 42.2mpg (NEDC combined) CO2 154g/km Rivals Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat 

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mondeoman 21 February 2019

32 grand

32 grand for an 1600cc Vauxhall?

I would look at one of these for 10 grand less, but not that much.

Scoobman 30 January 2019

Rearranging the (too long) name of the car into a Haiku...

Elite tourer

200 naff sports

Vauxhall Insignificant

FM8 30 January 2019

Scoobman wrote:

Scoobman wrote:

Elite tourer

200 naff sports

Vauxhall Insignificant

Unfortunately that's seems to be how it's going for vauxhall.  I recently had the unfortunate experience of a 150 drive in the back seat of one of these new Insignias, not too sure how they've made so little leg room in what is a big car.  Odd spec too, I think it was a Design model, no satnav, no reversing camera or sensors, no climate control, just aircon and a dash full of blanking plates where switches should be.  Not a pleasant experience.

xxxx 31 January 2019

FM8 wrote:

FM8 wrote:

Scoobman wrote:

Elite tourer

200 naff sports

Vauxhall Insignificant

Unfortunately that's seems to be how it's going for vauxhall.  I recently had the unfortunate experience of a 150 drive in the back seat of one of these new Insignias, not too sure how they've made so little leg room in what is a big car.  Odd spec too, I think it was a Design model, no satnav, no reversing camera or sensors, no climate control, just aircon and a dash full of blanking plates where switches should be.  Not a pleasant experience.

Design Insigna under £20k with a 1.5t with which you can use your phone, if you'd been in the Design Nav for £800 more you'd have got Nav.  Barely buy you half a 5 series.  

FM8 31 January 2019

xxxx wrote:

xxxx wrote:

FM8 wrote:

Scoobman wrote:

Elite tourer

200 naff sports

Vauxhall Insignificant

Unfortunately that's seems to be how it's going for vauxhall.  I recently had the unfortunate experience of a 150 drive in the back seat of one of these new Insignias, not too sure how they've made so little leg room in what is a big car.  Odd spec too, I think it was a Design model, no satnav, no reversing camera or sensors, no climate control, just aircon and a dash full of blanking plates where switches should be.  Not a pleasant experience.

Design Insigna under £20k with a 1.5t with which you can use your phone, if you'd been in the Design Nav for £800 more you'd have got Nav.  Barely buy you half a 5 series.  

Yes, I fully understand that, but I thought it was an odd spec.  This was the 1.5T petrol, nothing wrong with the performance, it coped with 4 adults, all 85 -100kg + their kit.  But the room (lack of) in the back was poor, there's more room in the back of my Honda Civic.  Plus, in the face evermore competition, I find it odd that Vauxhall should kit a car out like that.

Rich boy spanners 30 January 2019

Even company car drivers are

Even company car drivers are shifting to petrol, and a look at BIK rates for diesel and petrol over the next 4 years will tell you why. This has a CO2 figure far too high and uncompetitive though for a company car.

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