Frustratingly close to being impressive

What is it?

Massaging every single extra kilometer of travel out of a litre of diesel is increasingly the name of the game for European carmakers. So every trick in the aero book is being exploited to help cars slither down the road in a more Co2-friendly fashion.

So, like its hatchback sister, the Insignia EcoFlex Tourer wears a full complement of wind tunnel bling, including under-body spoiler. These direct air over the rear axle, which Vauxhall says reduces drag and reduces rear end lift.

The car’s upper front grille has also been blanked off, the rear screen fitted with ‘aero fins’ and the ride height lowered (by 14mm at the rear and 3mm at the front). Low-rolling resistance tyres complete the external package.

Mechanically, not much has changed bar slightly longer gearing and the Insignia gets the full-fat 158bhp 2.0-litre diesel unit, in contrast to other ‘eco’ models, which usually get de-tuned engines.

What is it like?

While the Insignia is a handsome machine, especially in Sports Tourer form, and has a stylish and well-made interior, its chassis really lacks a final polish, especially on broken British roads.

Unless you are driving on really well surfaced roads, the car’s ride suffers from a continuous background irritation, as the wheels patter over poor surfaces. It’s not particularly uncomfortable, but it is a point of note.

The Insignia’s steering is also below the class best, suffering from a lack of weight at the rim, when feeding the car into bends as well as lacking feel as the lock is wound on. Again, these failings are not unforgiveable, but the result is disappointing lackluster for a new-generation car.

The third failing is the engine’s so-so refinement. Again, it is not terrible (and it’s a lot better than Autocar’s early long-term Insignia) but it is still behind the class best, which is currently VW’s CR turbo diesel.

Should I buy one?

In truth, this car is aimed at the fleet manager rather than the private buyer. The crucial point about this car is the official Co2 figures and the tax advantages that flow from that.

However, in urban and sub-urban conditions, the Ecoflex returned 40mpg, almost exactly the 13 per cent improvement promised when compared to Autocar’s standard diesel Insignia on the same route.

Overall, this Insignia is frustratingly close to being impressive. It just needs a further chassis polish to shine on UK roads.

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surfer_dude 8 March 2010

Re: Vauxhall Insignia ecoFLEX Estate

I had two previous Vectra's as company cars over the last 6 yrs. Firstly the 2.0 Diesel, which wouldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding, then latterly the oh-so-good 1.9CDTi which was much more powerful and still returned 50mpg regularly. I now have the new Insignia 2.0CDti Ecoflex estate, sorry Sport Tourer, which is a 'very nice car', huge on the outside, but not a very big boot, thanks to a tailgate which is about half a mile deep (good job it has electrically assisted lift!!). If you look at the stats there is virtually nothing to choose between fuel consumption figures on the 'standard' diesel models of 130bhp and 160bhp (up 10bhp on the outgoing Vectra). Sure, the new models claim to be a little quicker 0-60 but they are much LESS efficient than the Vectra, despite all that time spend reducing drag in the wind tunnel. Then you realise that you are paying the priviledge of being eco-friendly by actually paying extra for a car that has almost the same fuel economy as its predecessor. My car has only done about 5k miles so far but I am struggling to average more than 43mpg, so I hope that improves as it runs in (and I am being very careful on the throttle too so I would hate to be in a hurry!!). At least I am having the last laugh with the tax man because CO2 emissions are quite a bit lower (which makes up for the increase in list price). Overall, in comparison to the Vectra, the Insignia is Premier League regardless of those who will always knock it. As a company car driver with 2 kids there was no choice (alternatives were Focus or Astra) on the list so I have to accept what I have, after all I can make do with a shovel if someone else is pulling it!!.

SimonRH 8 March 2010

Re: Vauxhall Insignia ecoFLEX Estate

ronmcdonald wrote:
Personally I don't like the Insignia - I thinks it looks dated already. As for it's ECO credentials - That's a joke, right? 139g km Co2 and 53mpg average is what I'd expect from any bog standard modern diesel. Even the old VAG PD units can match / better those figures.

In fairness my previous car was a leon FR with a PD and that was worse than my Insignia on CO2 and did exactly the same listed MPG as my (non-ecoflex) Insignia SRi. Despite the insignia being a load heavier.

Rich boy spanners 7 March 2010

Re: Vauxhall Insignia ecoFLEX Estate

I'm not sure it's a case of some people just not likeing vauxhall, but a case of so many people having a bad experience of them. We had about 5 in the family, and every one of them had nothing but engine management problems, in fact the orange management lights were illuminated so much I'm surprised the bulbs didn''t blow. My father in-laws 5 year old Vectra has been like this from new. My own Astra had to be taken back by Network Q because after 3 idle air control valves, 3 camshaft speed sensors, two crankshaft speed sensors, a new engine wiring harness, and an ECU they still couldn't stop it constantly cutting out. If this car was rated as the best car on the planet and cost £5 new, I still wouldn't buy because I have no faith in Opel products. I also work a bit in Frankfurt, home of Opel, and even there people laugh at them. In Germany Opel are bought as fleet sales by companies, with their own money people buy VAG.