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.
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