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By Glen Waddington
15 June 2009 10:00
The Vectra estate majored on space but looked as sexy as a stack of bottle crates. The Insignia hatch and saloon have turned their backs on the functional nature of the old Vectra, and the new Sports Tourer does the same to such an extent that Vauxhall couldn’t bring itself to label it an estate. But if it’s now sexy, is it still useful?
Quite a lot less, in fact. The boxy old Vectra ran on a longer wheelbase than the saloon and hatch (it shared it with the oddball ‘business-class’ Signum) and could lug a capacious 1850 litres of load within its vertical walls. The curvy Sports Tourer? Just 1530 litres, easily beaten by the Ford Mondeo’s 1733, even though the Insignia is longer overall.
One thing it has that the Mondeo lacks is a secondary set of tail lights in the tailgate aperture. A gimmick? Well, it means you’ll be visible if parked up at night with the tailgate open, because the main lamps swing up with the door itself.
Sure does. And, like the saloon and hatch, it manages to convey something of a premium character. The Sports Tourer looks classy inside and out, shading the Mondeo on sex appeal at the expense of accommodation. Still, at least the longer roofline means there’s decent headroom in the back.
And the finish is good in here too. Save for a few strategically hidden bits, surfaces please both eyes and fingertips, it feels solidly built, and the seats are generous and supportive. In fact the only black mark is the slightly mean spec: you pay £20k and have to wind up the back windows yourself. But in no other way does this car feel cheap.
Yep, this 1.6 turbo slots in-between the base 138bhp 1.8 petrol and 217bhp 2.0 turbo. And it’s a mixed bag. Quick and punchy, sure, but a bit gruff and unsubtle. Pull away from the lights and it comes over all boy-racer, impressing with its eagerness. But if you just want to edge gently away it doesn’t want to know: the throttle is too sensitive, and the shift from first to second is clumsy, so you’ll end up kangarooing gracelessly.
So it’s difficult to modulate but improves with speed. Up to a point, anyway, because it suddenly runs out of steam, which can take you by surprise when you’re overtaking and proves there really is no substitute for cubic inches.
Or more cylinders, if you’re after refinement. This four-pot is always a touch vocal, and sends shivers up your clutch leg too.
>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer first drive
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Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer 1.6T (2009) CAR review
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RE: Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer 1.6T (2009) CAR review
The side view now helps make sense of the curious 'back to front' front door moulding. Big vehicle = smaller capacity = not much sense. As to the name -- not much sport, and too small for serious touring.
17 June 2009 14:41
Lover the looks and especially the alloys but the engine sounds a bit wheezy. More power please and all is forgiven
16 June 2009 00:50
Rather than buy this it would be far better to get a nearly new 2.8 for £15k and use the change for the extra fuel / tax bills
15 June 2009 16:36
""proves there really is no substitute for cubic inches"
Unless its a VW Golf 1.4TSi i take it... ;-)
15 June 2009 15:02
@ John Spencer - a spot-on summary of the insignia driver!
15 June 2009 11:52
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