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Vauxhall Insignia 1.6 CDTi Whisper Diesel review

Vauxhall Insignia 1.6 CDTi Whisper Diesel review

Keenly priced, cheap to run and very comfortable with low fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, the Vauxhall Insignia with its new 1.6 CDTi diesel feels an honest product that does just what you expect. It is a sensible buy that handles the twisty stuff better than some more 'premium' rivals and the cabin is much classier than before. That said, it is feeling its age compared to more modern rivals like the Skoda Superb. The ability to generate its own wifi hotspot could be a life saver on long holiday drives for those with young children.

Review by Russell Bray

PERFORMANCE

Small engines in big cars have never been a recipe for fun motoring, even if the engine has its power boosted by turbo-charging; but in the cause of better economy and lower exhaust emissions Vauxhall has swapped its 2.0 litre diesel for a 1.6 litre one in this latest version of the Insignia. Producing 134 bhp at 3,500 rpm and maximum torque of 236 lb ft at 2,000rpm it's not going to be a winner in the traffic lights grand prix. Acceleration to 62mph takes 10.9 seconds but once you have got it into second gear it feels livelier and there's plenty of power for motorway cruising. You will often have to drop a couple of gears in the six speed manual gearbox because its tall ratios help economy and refinement but dull acceleration. While the engine isn't quite the advertised 'whisper' quiet at tick over or around town it is pleasingly muted for long distance travel. Top speed is 130 mph.

HANDLING

In terms of cornering ability the Insignia is surprisingly agile and sporty for its size with good responses from the power-assisted steering, following its driven front wheels rather faithfully. Ultimately you can push the car into understeer but easing back on the power brings the car back into line. The suspension is quite firm for EcoFlex models but doesn't get thrown off course by mid-corner bumps. Stability was good under firm braking and the car ran arrow straight on motorways.

BODY STYLE

Perhaps because it has been such a big seller the Vauxhall Insignia tends to be an invisible car on the roads; but study its shape and style and it definitely leans towards handsome. The curvy shape means it's probably worth while investing in front and rear parking sensors (£450) for that odd careless moment. The Insignia is spacious front and rear though there isn't much room under the front seats for rear seat passengers with big feet. The boot is very big with a shallow under floor storage area. The rear seats split 60/40 and fold easily and go nearly flat. With the seats up there's 530 litres of volume, which increases to 1,470 litres with them folded. A spare wheel is a £95 option and well worth it in my experience. Length 4842mm. Width 1856mm.

COMFORT & CONTROLS

Vauxhall Insignia interior

The uprated interior has made the Insignia a more pleasant place to spend your motorway miles. The big front chairs proved truly comfortable on a long trek, with the driver's benefiting from electric adjustment so you can vary your position subtly and use electric back lumbar adjustment too. Cruising range is easily 700 miles plus on a full tank. The steering column adjusts for rake and reach and the steering wheel is leather rimmed. Ride comfort on the standard fit 17-inch wheels can be fidgety on irregular surfaces. Wind noise was acceptably low. Road noise depends on what is under your tyres, and indeed the tread pattern of the tyres themselves. Beware; it is easy to leave the car without the electronic parking brake engaged. It seems to need an extended pull. There are a few irritating buzzers supposed to improve safety at times. Whether to blame the American culture or the EU is the question.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

Truth be told I was quite pleased with 63.5 MPG overall fuel consumption according to the on-board computer compared to the official 74.3 MPG of the combined cycle, as it included some traffic choked roads in London. But until there was a long motorway stint 50 MPG was the reality. The weight of different trim levels can reduce fuel consumption to 72.4 MPG, but an economy expert achieved 82 MPG on a European drive in an Insignia, and a colleague beat my figure with the outgoing 2.0 litre engine. This was also on a European drive which suggests motoring conditions can be tougher in the UK I suspect. Carbon dioxide emissions of 99 g/km put the Insignia in band A for road tax which means no payment under the current regime. Main service intervals are annually or every 20,000 miles. The Insignia is covered by a three year/60,000 miles warranty.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

Vauxhall uses modern engines and gearboxes with reduced friction and other tweaks, good aerodynamics and high gearing for good general fuel economy and low emissions. EcoFlex models run on a lowered chassis for better aerodynamics, use low-rolling resistance tyres and front radiator grille flaps that close when the engine is at optimum temperature to improve the car's streamlining. Vauxhall says air going through the front grille to cool the engine accounts for up to eight per cent of total vehicle air drag. To reduce this effect, a shutter in the lower front grille automatically closes to prevent air entering and causing turbulence. During cold starts, engine warm-up is faster which also helps reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. An automatic engine stop and restart system reduces pollution and fuel consumption in stop-go traffic.
According to our calculations, the tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 35.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

My time with the Insignia made me very popular because of its ability to act as a mobile wifi hotspot capable of supporting seven devices. Part of the OnStar system, which will call emergency services if you crash and provides a concierge service, it was more reliable than the wifi at a hotel in deepest Essex. Unfortunately for those travelling late at night or early in a morning there is only a puncture repair kit not a proper spare wheel. The Navi 900 IntelliLink system includes an eight inch satellite navigation display, AM/FM stereo radio, CD and MP3 player and USB connection and aux-in socket. The seven-speaker system can be operated via steering wheel mounted controls. Our phones linked easily with the Bluetooth connectivity. Electronic climate control reduces fiddle time even on long journeys with wildly different weather conditions. Cruise control operated consistently.

MODEL SUMMARY

Vauxhall Insignia rear

Model tested: Vauxhall Insignia Tech Line CDTi EcoFlex
Body-style: Five-door family hatchback
Engine / CO2: 134bhp 1598cc, four-cylinder turbodiesel / 77 g/km
Trim grades: Design, Elite, Energy, Limited, SE, SRi, SRi VX-Line, Tech Line

On-road price: Insignia from £17,289. Price as tested £20,419
Warranty: Three years / unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars

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Vauxhall Insignia details

Russell Bray

Author:Russell Bray
Date Updated:9th Jun 2016

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