Good value and well-equipped, but powerplant disappoints

What is it?

This, the Vauxhall Insignia 1.8 Ecotec, is the bargain basement of the Insignia range. That’s actually a bit unfair, because although the petrol-powered 1.8-litre Ecotec model is the least powerful Insignia offered in the UK, and Exclusiv is next-to-base in the spec hierarchy, it hardly feels like a budget choice.

All Insignias get ESP, automatic headlights and cruise control, and Exclusiv models add climate control to the mix. That’s a lot of kit for a basic large family car.

What’s it like?

The engine is the least impressive part of the package. The 1.8-litre Ecotec spins freely enough and noise is effectively subdued by decent sound deadening – even in the higher reaches of the rev range – but to make decent progress you have to push it hard.

The reason why becomes clear after a brief glance at the powerplant’s vital statistics. There’s nothing wrong with the 138bhp power output, but 133lb ft of torque is too weedy to allow effortless pace.

So although the bald performance figures are more or less acceptable, the lack of mid-range grunt means that overtaking requires a certain degree of forward planning that will be alien to anybody used to the mid-range thrust of a turbodiesel.

A 36.2mpg combined fuel consumption figure and a CO2 emissions of 184g/km are also solid rather than spectacular.

The Insignia 1.8 falls slightly short of the Ford Mondeo 1.6 Edge’s figures of 38.2mpg and 177g/km, but the 123bhp Ford does give away 15bhp to the Vauxhall.

Should I buy one?

The 1.8 is probably the weakest link in the Insignia range, but that doesn’t mean it is without appeal – if you are looking for a good-value, well equipped family car powered by a petrol engine, the entry-level Insignia is well worth consideration.

Matt Rigby

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