► Vauxhall's all-new Insignia estate
► More space, kit and style
► Is Luton onto a winner?
Size isn't everything - right? The designers of Vauxhall's new Insignia Sports Tourer don't seem to think so. It's longer, wider and has a wheelbase that's 92mm longer than before, so the Insignia estate can now look an Audi A6 Avant squarely in the eyes.
And yet, it's certainly no heavyweight. This is because, despite the increase in size over the old model, it's shed up to 200kg in weight and sits 20mm lower, creating an all-round sleeker image. Larger, lighter and better-looking, things are looking promising for the company car drivers of Britain...
It really is a handsome beast isn't it?
The Insignia estate takes design cues from the dramatic Monza concept first seem in 2013. Benefits from that tidbit of style inspiration include the shark mouth-like radiator grille, double-wing LED signature round back and the 'blade' light catcher crease in the lower doors, designed to pull attention towards the back of the car.
Things aren't quite as slick on the inside but the cabin still looks up to date, with revised button designs, a new centre console and upgraded soft-touch materials. A shame then, that the odd bit of hard plastic and tacky chrome effect is still on show.
Has the weight loss improved the handling?
That it has. The Insignia Sports Tourer feels noticeably more agile than its predecessor with a lighter-feeling front end and more direct steering. Grip levels are also a smidge higher, the car able to turn in with more vigour than before, carrying the speed through bends.
We get the feeling it could have been a real dark horse in the handling department, yet it falls short of four star greatness because of the unashamedly comfort-orientated suspension. Although the car will settle nicely into a bend, any sudden movements will bring about fun-sapping body roll as the squashy springs ladle the car from one corner to another.
It's a shame it's not a little tauter, but then that's not what the majority of customers want. See, Vauxhall knows its market, and understands that the average Insignia Sports Tourer driver doesn't buy the car for its dynamic ability. Instead, they prefer a safe, comfortable mile-muncher for all those company car slogs up the M1 motorway.
So is it comfortable?
Thankfully, yes. The absorbent suspension settings lead to a composed, grown-up ride quality - perfectly suited for - you guessed it – pounding up and down the Great British motorway network. It's not perfect, mind. Sharper bumps in the road can sometimes catch the dampers out - especially if you're rounding a corner - leaving the car wallowing on its springs before settling half a second later.
Obviously, the larger the wheels the more edge there is to the ride, with bigger alloys adding a fidgety quality over all but perfect surfaces. And no matter what size wheels you go for, road noise above 50mph is disappointingly perceptible.
Does all that extra size bring greater practicality?
It certainly does. Up front things are largely the same but hop into the rear seats and taller passengers will immediately notice a difference in headroom over the previous-generation model, plus the seats feel wider, too.
Just watch out for the double panoramic sunroof which stretches over the rear seats. It may brighten things up but it robs valuable headroom from those in the back.
Move around to the boot and the loading bay is wider and lower, with total capacity increasing to 1,665 litres with the rear seats folded down. That's 135 litres more than the car's predecessor could manage. The bootlid itself is quite heavy, mind, so unless your name begins with 'Pop' and ends with 'eye', consider investing in the electrically-operated tailgate option... or a gym membership.
What are the engines like?
Unsurprisingly, the range is identical to that seen in the Grand Sport hatchback. That means a selection of diesels in 1.6- or 2.0-litre form, a flagship 256bhp 2.0-litre petrol and, the one we're testing here, a brand-new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol with 163bhp.
Also available in 138bhp form, the freshly-introduced powerplant kicks out 184lb ft of torque and is capable of 0-60mph in 8.6 seconds. Intriguingly, it's also predicted to be the third-highest seller in the range behind the 109 and 134bhp diesels.
The good news is that, for most of the time, it's quiet and refined with plenty of usable torque from 2000rpm. It accelerates happily from 60mph in sixth gear, while lesser-powered diesels would struggle. Fuel economy is also respectable at 46.3mpg
On the downside, it doesn't feel as quick as its 8.6-second 0-60mph time would suggest, even with just two passengers on board. Rev it out and it sounds pretty dull no matter what engine speed you're at, although thankfully its slightly rough top end is drowned-out well by the car's sound insulation.
Any interesting kit on offer?
Once again, almost all of it is also available on the Grand Sport, including a customisable head-up display (with a natty horizontal rev-counter graphic), wireless phone charging, a heated windscreen, autonomous emergency braking and the wagon-only electronic tailgate with foot gesture control. The latter allows access to the boot simply by waving ones foot under the rear bumper - providing you have the key on you.
Less glamourous, but equally as useful, is the impressive levels of standard kit found on mid-spec models, such as the SRi Nav we're testing here. Included in the price is dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a seven-inch colour touchscreen with sat-nav, automatic city emergency braking and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.
Other fancy equipment includes the GKN Twister 4x4 system, which Vauxhall likes to point out is essentially the same as that found on the Ford Focus RS – minus Drift Mode, sadly.
If you're after a well-priced family wagon with an abundance of space, kit and comfort levels step this way. The Insignia Sports Tourer improves on its predecessor and some. Be under no illusions though, there are far more engaging drives out there with similar comfort levels and even greater load- and people-lugging capacity.
Vauxhall has upped its game in nearly every department, and while it fails to dominate in any, the sheer value for money the Insignia Sports Tourer offers is hard to ignore.
Check out all of our Vauxhall reviews here