Vauxhall Insignia review

Our Rating: 
2013 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Vauxhall Insignia hatchback offers plenty of style and comfort to rival the Ford Mondeo

Sleek design, low running costs, big discounts
Resale values aren't great, Mondeo is better to drive

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The Vauxhall Insignia attempts to lure buyers away from more established saloons such as the Ford Mondeo and VW Passat. Its trump card is its outstanding value for money and the brand's history for creating big, spacious and well-equipped cars. 

It arrived way back in 2008 and replaced the old Vauxhall Vectra. A facelifted model was introduced in 2013 bringing the car more inline the brand's updated image, while inside the dash and centre console were tided up with more of the cars functions being operated via the infotainment system and touchpad.

There’s a huge variety of engines offered to buyers, starting with a tiny 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and ending with a mighty 321bhp 2.8-litre V6 engine in the sporty VXR model. A happy medium between the two would be the 118bhp 2.0-litre CDTi diesel engine that returns a combined economy of 76.3mpg and has CO2 emissions of 98g/km. If you need a fraction more power a 138bhp version of the 2.0-litre diesel is also available and will be the engine of choice for most buyers.

As well as engines, the Insignia also comes with a whole host of trim options starting with entry level Design. The mid-range Insignia SRi is also popular, while the range-topping Elite comes packed with kit such as 18-inch alloys, leather trim and dual-zone climate control.

But the variety doesn't stop there, with a more practical Insignia Sports Tourer also on the market. It's a rival for the likes of the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack and SEAT Leon ST X-Perience.

The 2013 updates that Vauxhall made to the Insignia included tweaks to the chassis. These included changes to the steering calibration for a more direct feel and a re-designed rear suspension to improve road comfort. As a result, the Insignia feels a fresher than the Passat and Ford Mondeo, but it still isn't as good to drive as the latter.

Our choice: Insignia SRi 2.0 CDTi 140PS Design Nav

Engines, performance and drive


The latest Vauxhall Insignia is incredibly comfortable and will happily eat up long distances with ease. The tweaks made to the suspension filter out the biggest bumps to deliver a comfortable ride, while the engine is quiet and wind-noise is kept low. In short, the Vauxhall Insignia can't be faulted for its cruising ability.

Despite its buckets of grip and decent turn-in, the Vauxhall Insignia doesn't come anywhere close to the Ford Mondeo for driver thrills. There’s not much in the way of feedback through the wheel, and the pay-off for that comfortable ride is a softer feel in corners. It suffers more body roll than the ford, and the suspension is easily unsettled by mid-corner bumps.

In terms of engines, the Insignia 2.0CDTi diesel EcoFlex is seriously impressive and efficient, while the 168mph VXR SuperSport is one of the fastest cars on sale in the UK in its price bracket. It takes 5.6 seconds to sprint from 0-62mph and gets a HiPerStrut front suspension system to improve grip.

MPG, CO2 and running costs


The Vauxhall Insignia comes with a wide array of engines, which offer varying levels of power. However, where most will be fleet cars, we expect the majority of Insignias sold to be diesels.

The efficient ecoFLEX engines make the most sense, thanks to their emissions that range from having a combined cycle of 76.3mpg and 98g/km of CO2 on the 118bhp model. The most powerful Vauxhall Insignia with ecoFLEX tech is the 193bhp model, which has slightly higher emissions of 125g/km of CO2 and a lesser combined economy of 60.1mpg.

In terms of petrol engines on the Vauxhall Insignia, there's a 1.4-litre turbo, which is smooth and quiet, but has CO2 emissions of 123g/km and a combined economy of 54.3mpg. It's also slightly underpowered.

In addition to the small 1.4-litre petrol and the mighty 2.8-litre twin-turbo VXR SuperSport, another petrol engine on the Insignia is the 1.6-litre SIDI engine that Vauxhall debuted in its Cascada convertible. However, it's not the most economical choice thanks to its combined cycle of 35.8mpg and emissions of 186g/km.

All Vauxhall gives the Insignia plenty of standard kit, so you shouldn't need to spend too much money on options. However, weak residuals mean it isn’t a great long-term investment - the Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Superb fare much better here.

Interior, design and technology


Like its rivals, the Mondeo, the Passat and the Skoda Superb, the Vauxhall Insignia is a firm favourite with fleet buyers and it's a not uncommon to see them trawling the UK's motorway network.

Compared to the Mondeo, which can appear bulky, the Insignia is one of the better looking fleet cars out there, thanks to its arching roofline which tapers to a shallow rear screen and raised tail.

What's more, Vauxhall's 2013 facelift improved on the original Insignia's good-looks by adding a larger grille and revised LED headlights. Higher spec cars also get a re-profiled chin spoiler with fog lamps, and the Insignia hatch's tail lamps are joined by a thicker chrome bar across the tailgate. In fact, from some angles the Vauxhall Insignia is reminiscent of a Volkswagen CC.

The changes Vauxhall has made to the interior of the Insignia are equally as subtle. The steering wheel is the same as the one fitted across rest of the Vauxhall range and the curvy dashboard found on the first generation Insignia is largely unchanged.

However, Vauxhall has reduced the number of buttons on the centre console as all Insignias now get a touchscreen to navigate through the major functions. Should you opt for a model equipped with sat-nav, you also get a touchpad that's used to work through the menus and write characters.

One of the most appealing options that Vauxhall offers on the Insignia is the eight-inch TFT instrument cluster for around £400. This replaces traditional analogue dials with a large screen that can show a range of information, from speed and revs to economy and driving efficiency. The system is a nice touch and it looks much more modern than the dated dot-matrix set-up on the Mondeo thanks to its clear, colourful display.

Practicality, comfort and boot space


The Vauxhall Insignia is one of the most practical cars in its segment, with the hatchback offering 530-litres of boot space. If the 60:40 split-folding rear seats are lowered, this expands to 1,470-litres. However, it still can't quite match the huge Skoda Superb for space.

The boot of the Insignia has a narrow opening, although the floor area is a usefully squarer shape than in some of its rivals. Vauxhall has also built a step into the floor, but this is no different to anything on the Mondeo, and you don't have to flip the seatbases up to achieve this on the Ford.

Vauxhall has been generous with the storage space in the Insignia's cabin, and has given it plenty of cubbies and a lidded compartment between the front seats and a large glovebox.

Given its vast dimensions, the Vauxhall Insignia will easily take five adults, but its sweeping roofline means that taller rear seat passengers will find their heads brushing the ceiling. What's more, on our preferred model of Insignia - Insignia SRi 2.0 CDTi 140PS Design Nav - electric rear windows are an optional extra around £170.

Reliability and Safety


In general, the Vauxhall Insignia has proved reliable, but owners don't seem to have much faith in the car. In our 2013 Driver Power satisfaction survey, the car dropped 92 places from sixth to 98th since 2011. This drop put the Insignia 42 places behind the Mondeo, which has been left relatively unchanged since its launch in 2007.

Happily for Insignia owners however, Vauxhall dealers finished 18th in our 2013 Driver Power survey, but again, this is a drop from 9th the previous year. 

Vauxhall hasn't scrimped on safety kit in the Insignia either, and gives it six airbags, two Isofix mounts in the back and ESP as standard. What's more, Euro NCAP awarded the Insignia a five-star crash test rating. Vauxhall also offers a raft of advanced safety kit on the options list this includes a rear-view camera, plus park and go technology pack with blind spot and rear traffic alerts.

Automatic lights and wipers on lower spec Insignias can also be specced as options, as can Vauxhall's auto-park system and Front Camera. The latter option brings lane departure warning, distance control and forward collision alert. While all this kit hikes the price, the Vauxhall Insignia has a clear advantage over the Mondeo in this area as none of it is available on the Ford.

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Each viewed area has at least 3.5 stars but overall rating 3 stars? Why?

Vauxhall's financial distress is showing! Their models are too old compared with the competition.

The insignia has been around since 2008 without a facelift, the corsa has remained there abouts unchanged since its release in 2007, as have the Zafira since its launch in 2005!!!

The cars aren't ugly but they are terrible to drive... the astra wins the 'worst car I have driven in a good number of years' award.

Vauxhall sort it out.

What a load of complete tosh. As a company car driver for many years I've driven various cars, including Mondeos and VW Passats. The best? ....the Vectra. More comfortable, quieter, effortless on long journeys. The Mondeos gave me a sore back - I had to regularly stop. The Mondeo also suffered from wind/road noise. Whereas in the Vectra I could do 300 miles in one go without a stop and arrive at my destination fresh as a daisy. You mention financial distress - Ford not so long ago had to file for bankruptcy. Fact is many manufacturers have had to financially restructure to some extent or other, Ford have, many of them have. You mention the Insignia out since 2008 - try 2009 - and updating of models: in fact Opel/Vauxhall have recently been updating their models. And Ford's Mondeo has been out since 2007 - its actually longer in the tooth than the Insignia :-o

Couldn't agree more, "HeavyRight Foot" is talking absolute rubbish. I (upgraded!!!) from an 05 Vectra to an 08 Mondeo and couldn't have been more disappointed. Don't get me wrong the Mondeo was a good car but did nothing that the much older Vauhall couldn't do and there was a lot less quality than I'd been led to believe. The boot space and rear legroom in the Mondeo is stunning though, best that I've witnessed in this class of car.
The media for some reason have a complete love-in with Ford and I just don't understand it, the Vectra was slated but I honestly thought it was a great car. The Mondeo was rumoured and reported to be a Audi and BMW worrier but that's nonsense it's just as agricultural as all Fords feel with extremely average build quality. No better than the Vectra on a much newer car.
Anyway, I'm now in an Insignia and it's fantastic. I love the looks and I love the interior, if I upgrade it will be to a newer facelifted tourer. Maybe with that huge in dash screen.

Last updated: 19 Jan, 2015