Latest round of updates enhances Insignia’s already convincing package

What is it?

Two years and 70,000 cars since Vauxhall started delivering Insignias in the UK, the launch continues.

This week we get a taste of the very first British-registered Insignia diesel 4x4. This car also has a series of model year engine revisions for 2011.

Mindful of criticism of the diesel-powered Insignia’s mechanical refinement, Opel/Vauxhall has taken several steps to reduce noise from its 2.0-litre commonrail diesel engine.

It has designed a stiffer and therefore quieter mounting for the motor’s diesel fuel pump; revised the design of its pistons and conrods for reduced piston slap; fitted new skewer gears for the cam chain to reduce backlash noise; added extra noise insulation around the bulkhead and under the bonnet; and developed a quieter ECU map.

CO2 emissions now stand at 133g/km for the standard CDTi 130, 144g/km for the CDTi 160, and 163g/km for the CDTi 160 4x4.

There are two new options on the list for 2011: an extended nappa leather pack that weighs in at an eye-watering £3000, and a VXR styling kit that will allow you to dress up your 128bhp diesel like a 321bhp VXR, for just £820.

What’s it like?

Having done fewer than 500 miles, our test car’s engine refinement was good rather than great: perhaps 10 per cent quieter than the unrevised Insignia.

We can well imagine getting a bigger benefit as the miles pile on, however. Experience with our early Insignia CDTi long-term test car proved that they could become quite rough once loose.

The car’s adaptive 4x4 system had a subtle but noticable influence on the Insignia’s handling on the narrow rural roads of our test route.

The Haldex setup features several clutches that react to wheel speed and steering angle, and shuffle power not just rearwards but between the individual rear wheels to maintain your cornering line.

Those clutches work quickly enough to minimise torque steer through harder-charged bends, and enhance the accuracy of the Insignia’s handling slightly, even in the dry.

In very wet or icy conditions, other Autocar testers report, the 4x4 system has a transformative effect on the Insignia’s agility and stability.

In SE spec, our Insignia came with Vauxhall’s FlexRide adaptive dampers, which continually adjust to keep unwanted body movements in check, but also allow you to choose from three driving modes: standard, ‘Sport’ and ‘Tour’.

Sport mode dials in rather too much damping for most UK roads, but ‘Tour’ is of more use for everyday driving in Britain, allowing you to make the Insignia ride with something close to the compliance and refinement of a Ford Mondeo.

Should I buy one?

Slowly but surely, Vauxhall is turning the Insignia into a very impressive family car. A four-wheel drive diesel tourer like our test car offers an appealing combination of practicality, quality, economy and any-weather usablity – with added driver appeal.

Despite what Vauxhall will tell you, the Insignia’s still not quite the outstanding car in its class.

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Its steering still lacks natural feel and feedback, its cabin materials don’t stand up to close inspection as solidly as those of a VW Passat or Honda Accord, and it’s not the most accommodating car in the class either.

But now, with a dose of extra refinement and optional four-wheel drive, this commendable Vauxhall is closer to the head of the field than ever before.

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer 2.0 CDTi 160 SE

Price: £28,505; Top speed: 130mph; 0-62mph: 10.0sec; Economy: 45.6mpg; CO2: 164g/km; Kerbweight: 1768kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1956cc, turbodiesel; Power: 158bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 258lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual


Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
mantaray 14 October 2010

Re: Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi

jer wrote:
Funny how Vauxhall and BMW are re-launching 4*4 versions in the UK. Amazing what a bit of snow last winter did to change attitudes. Having said that I can testify an automatic, big tyred BMW is useless in the snow or even slush.

As can the copper I helped rescue last year. And I'd say his was a manual......

tannedbaldhead 14 October 2010

Re: Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi

supermanuel wrote:

I agree eenymac but I should think you'd get £7k off for just walking into the showroom...

Easy. The Scottish press is full of adverts for Arnold Clark is punting 60 plate Insignias at just under £12K.

jer 12 October 2010

Re: Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi

For £28,505 whats it going to be worth in 3 years?

Funny how Vauxhall and BMW are re-launching 4*4 versions in the UK. Amazing what a bit of snow last winter did to change attitudes. Having said that I can testify an automatic, big tyred BMW is useless in the snow or even slush.