What is it?
If there’s a weak link in the present Insignia line-up, it’s the 1.8-litre petrol engine: economy and emissions are lacklustre, and there’s little overtaking punch. The new turbocharged 1.4 puts that right.
For now, the 1.8 will continue to be sold alongside the 1.4 T, but even considering its price advantage of £825 we can’t see many buyers choosing this outdated engine. The Turbo matches the 1.8’s 138bhp but torque is up 14 per cent to 147lb ft and arrives lower down the rev range.
What’s it like?
Whereas the 1.8 needs hard revving to stay with its own shadow, the 1.4 turbo pulls cleanly and with purpose from low revs. Overtaking no longer demands a long straight and plenty of patience. It’s a refined unit, too, and there’s nothing strained about the engine note even at high revs.
If the new engine is the most significant change for the 2012 model year, second billing goes to the new power steering system fitted to all Insignias with a manual gearbox. It’s an electric set-up to cut emissions by doing away with a power-sapping hydraulic pump.
Electrically assisted racks can feel artificial and inconsistent, but the Insignia’s system is better than most. Feedback is limited but, just off the straight ahead, the new rack is more responsive than the old hydraulic set-up.
Should I buy one?
Vauxhall predicts 60 per cent of cars sold with the new engine will go to company fleets. It’s certainly a more appealing prospect for business drivers than the 1.8, having better economy (49.6mpg defeats the 1.8’s 37.2mpg) and lower emissions (just 134g/km of carbon dioxide compared with 179g/km). The Insignia isn’t a match in driver appeal for the Ford Mondeo, but it is on the same page.
Vauxhall Insignia 1.4i 16v Turbo
Price: £18,795; Top speed: 127mph; 0-60mph: 10.1sec; Economy: 49.6mpg; CO2: 134g/km; Kerb weight: 1503kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1364cc, turbo, petrol; Power: 138bhp at 4900-6000rpm; Torque: 147lb ft at 1850-4900rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual