What is it?
The Vauxhall Insignia has been a familiar sight on British roads for years, but now it has an improved 2.0-litre diesel. Traditionally the 2.0 is a top-selling engine, and this new one puts it on more equal terms with the brilliant large hatchbacks and saloons that have appeared in recent times, such as Ford Mondeo, VW Passat and Mazda 6.
Vauxhall describes the engine as the third member of burgeoning 'Whisper' diesel family (the others are a 1.3 and a 1.6). Although it has a design relationship with the outgoing 161bhp CDTi, 95% of its components are new or updated.
This engine will soon go into the Zafira Tourer and Cascada. It offers 4% more power and 14% more torque than the outgoing engine, meets Euro 6 clean-air standards, and still manages to maintain the outgoing engine’s highly competitive CO2 output of 114g/km.
Vauxhall’s plan is to use it to replace both the 161bhp CDTi and the 193bhp twin-turbo diesel as its top-end diesel engine.
What's it like?
This word 'Whisper' appears to promise a little too much when you first start the engine. It’s definitely quieter and smoother than the outgoing engine - second-order vibrations have been slashed by something like 80% - but there’s still a diesel rattle there.
However, once you’re under way the engine noise seems to melt away and the engine becomes as refined as any on the market. Better still, its torque spread is impressive: you get a strong and prompt response to the throttle from as low as 1000rpm, and the change-up prompt on the dashboard encourages you to keep the engine at low revs.
Outright performance is good for a 1600kg package. Top speed is 139mph, the 0-60mph time is a healthy 9.0sec, and best of all you can cruise at 80mph at just over 2000rpm in sixth gear.
Better still, in this kind of use the 2.0 delivers well over 50mpg. We proved as much in our recent one-day, round-Europe journey.
Should I buy one?
Your decision depends heavily on the keenness of the deal you do, and how much you like Vauxhalls. The engine itself puts the Insignia on a par with the recently launched Passat, Mondeo and friends, but the rest of the car, although still a decent performer, shows its age.
Our view is that many business users will continue to be tucked into Insignias, and certainly they won’t suffer financially because of its impressive tax performance, but a buyer with the newer models on his shopping list might end up opting for one of those.
The Insignia’s still a good car, but selling it in this difficult category, even with a very good 2.0-litre diesel, isn’t as easy as it was.
Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi 170
Price £22,984; Engine 4cyl, 1956cc, turbodiesel; Power 168bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox Six-speed manual; Kerb weight 1538kg; Top speed 139mph; 0-60mph 9.0sec; Economy 65.7mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 114/18%