Road Test: Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer
Is this new load lugger a rival to the established premium brands? Julian Kirk finds out.
SECTOR Upper-medium PRICE £25,870 (1.6 Turbo D Elite Nav) FUEL 62.8mpg CO2 119g/km
Squeezed from above, sniped at from below… Vauxhall has seen its traditional fleet sector heartland eaten away by increased competition from both premium marques and the emerging value brands.
Its response has been to try and shift brand perception; to this end it is marketing the Insignia Sports Tourer as ‘a genuine alternative’ to the premium marques. But how successful has this approach been?
Well, visually the new load lugging Insignia echoes the understated look of the premium brands. It’s a big car, but the fuss-free styling lends an air of solidity. This size helps give the Sports Tourer a massive boot – up to 1,665 litres (135 more than before) while boot length is now just over that critical two metre benchmark (2,005mm) – handy for fleets who need to transport lengthy samples in the back. (To put these figures into context, a Volkswagen Passat estate offers up to 1,780 litres of space and a load floor length of 2,018mm.) In fact, the only things not big about the Insignia are the 17-inch alloy wheels which look dwarfed by the sheet metal they are supporting. So it’s big, but not class-leading in terms of boot space.
Inside, it is up with the best in terms of room for occupants, and the attention to detail and quality of fixtures and fittings is also on a par with the sector leaders – in fact, it’s very Audi-ish both in terms of look and feel, but also in being quite dark.
Despite being so large, the 1.6-litre Turbo D engine does a good job of hauling the car around – short gear ratios see the 136bhp unit build speed quickly and it is generally refined when cruising. The gearbox shifts easily, the steering’s light and visibility all round is good. An upside of those smaller alloys is a very compliant ride and little in the way of tyre roar – ideal for business drivers clocking up big mileages.
On-paper performance includes a headline claimed combined fuel economy figure of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 119g/km, spelling a benefit-in-kind banding of 25% for the 2017/18 tax year. That equates to a £94 a month company car tax bill for a base rate payer.
There’s a whole raft of kit and the de rigeur central touchscreen to control many functions in the car, although many of the headline technologies (head-up display, active safety features) are optional extras. What you do get as standard is a front camera, forward collision alert with emergency braking, follow distance indicator, lane departure warning with lane assist and traffic sign recognition, as well as satellite navigation, tinted rear glass, climate control, heated seats all-round and keyless entry.
Also fitted as standard is the excellent OnStar concierge service (subject to paying a monthly fee), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a Wi-Fi Hotspot service which allows up to seven mobile devices to connect to the internet though OnStar.
In this specification, the Insignia comes in at £25,870 – this puts it well below the entry-level diesel A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series Touring and on a par with a top-spec Skoda Superb Estate or a mid-ranking Passat.
What we think
The Insignia gives few reasons for company car drivers to complain. But whether they would choose one over a premium-badged rival is another matter.