There are two major elements of the Vauxhall Insignia facelift that we’re keen to try out. One is this new 2.0-litre turbodiesel, capable of 138bhp and 72.4mpg according to the official figures. The second is the touchscreen infotainment available inside, which replaces the horribly button-heavy approach taken by the old Insignia is the majority of mid- and high-spec models.
Can the alterations make the Insignia into a Ford Mondeo and Mazda 6 beater? Read on for the CAR review.
Tell me about the Vauxhall Insignia’s new engine
Though Vauxhall’s figures state a gargantuan 1115-mile range should be possible, the pesky problem of driving in the real world put paid to that plan in practise. Our test car averaged 55mpg in mainly motorway driving, equating to a range of some 900 miles, tank-to-tank. Still not what we’d call nectar point-friendly, then.
Of course, this super-frugal engine is aimed at the fleet market, which swallows around 80% of Insignia sales. Those motorways-bound for hours on end will appreciate the work done to make the Insignia more refined – it’s far quitter than the pre-facelift car, in terms of engine, wind and road noise-intrusion.
Soft-touch plastics are all very well, but never underestimate just how far a dose of peace and quiet will go to make a car feel more (dare we use the word) ‘premium’. Meanwhile, CO2 emissions of 104g/km keep the tax man at bay with just a £20 annual outlay.
>> Check out CAR’s full story on the facelifted Vauxhall Insignia here
What about the rest of the driving experience?
Like the refinement, the Insignia’s good, but still not class leading. Suspension tweaks have improved the long-distance comfort, but the steering still lacks feedback and is too eager to self-centre – the gearshift meanwhile isn’t eager to do anything, least of all assist in moving ratios between gates.
That’s the real issue for Vauxhall – the Insignia isn’t as dynamic as a Ford Mondeo or Mazda 6 but it also lacks the mature ambience of a Skoda Superb.
>> Click here for CAR’s Skoda Superb diesel review
At least we can take the interior seriously now, though?
It’s a marked improvement. The new touchscreen measures eight inches, and can be controlled via the screen itself, voice commands, a rotary control on the centre console, and by a small touchpad that accepts had written gestures and characters for shortcut functions. It’s a similar idea to that used by high-spec versions of BMW iDrive and Audi MMI, but predictably, the German systems are better resolved, so we stick to prodding at the screen to operate the Insignia’s bells and whistles.
For £800, you can spec a second eight-inch screen in your new Insignia – this time in the instrument cluster, where its gives digital speed and driver information readouts including real-time economy and navigation commands. Again, it cranks up the perceived quality precious notches, but it really ought to be standard to give the Insignia something to shout about in this crowded, competitive segment.
The Sports Tourer is a fairly handsome machine, facelift tweaks notwithstanding, but the bragging rights of a 1530-litre boot are hardly much to write home about when even a VW Golf Estate musters more 90 litres more.
If you’re a Vauxhall fan, or a current Insignia owner, you’ll find much to like in this refreshed model – it’s more refined, comfortable, and has some noteworthy tech features. Vauxhall is lucky that Ford’s new Mondeo has been delayed until 2015 because of production constraints, meaning the Insignia has a real head start on its American-badged cousin.
Even so, a Mazda 6 Tourer is the more satisfying private buy, and if the Insignia is your company wheels, make sure you save the fuel allowance savings for a decent-driving weekend toy. Vauxhall still hasn’t cracked the fun-to-drive nut in workaday models.