What is it?
This is the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer 2.0 CDTi 160 Exclusiv, the higher-powered diesel version of Vauxhall’s new Insignia estate. So it’s got the same intelligently laid out, 1530-litre boot as the rest of the range; the same full-width, high-lift tailgate and false boot floor; the same classy cabin; and the same 16-valve, 2.0-litre common-rail diesel engine as the 128bhp version we’ve already reviewed, albeit in a higher state of tune.
This Insignia’s engine produces 158bhp, and as much 280lb ft of torque on temporary overboost. It’s over a second and a half faster to 60mph than the lower-powered CDTi 130, and is capable of beating 130mph flat out. And yet, according to Vauxhall’s figures, it’s no thirstier, and no more given to producing carbon dioxide, than the 128bhp car.
Sounds like a bargain, since opting for the gutsier diesel costs Insignia buyers only £500 more. So is there a good reason not to spend the extra?
What’s it like?
The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer may not be quite as enormously capacious as its immediate forebear, but as we’ve already written, you can forgive it that considering how much more handsome it looks than a Vectra wagon in the metal, and allowing for the fact that it’s actually got more usable space behind the rear seats.
The motor idles quietly and without commotion. Even beyond 3000rpm, refinement levels are better than those of a Honda Accord i-DTEC or a higher-powered VW Passat diesel. And though the engine’s response to throttle inputs low in the rev range could be improved, once this 2.0-litre four-pot begins to pull, it hauls the sizable Insignia along pretty briskly. Accelerating in-gear, this car feels as fast as any rival this side of Alpina D3 Touring.
The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer comes up a little short of the class leaders in terms of ride refinement, outright handling prowess and steering feel though. Opting for a car on the standard 17in wheels and ‘comfort’ springs maximises the absorbency of the Insignia’s chassis, but doesn’t rid the car totally of an undesirable restlessness over uneven surfaces. We’d simply steer well clear of the ‘sport’ setup.
Also, we found the steering on our test car to be too light and too inconsistent to provide perfect control over the direction of the car during faster driving.
Should I buy one?
The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer is a pacey, practical and very broadly appealing family car.
But we’d hesitate in recommending it for one reason: the remaining months of 2009 are going to make this particular Insignia look a bit outmoded. You already know that this is not the cheapest Insignia Sports Tourer you can buy. When Vauxhall’s EcoFlex models arrive in the autumn, it will no longer be the cheapest to run either. Later in the year, when the all-wheel drive 188bhp BiTurbo diesel pitches up, this car will even lose its position as the fastest and most sporting Insignia diesel.