Vauxhall Insignia Saloon review
Smartly styled and well priced, the Vauxhall Insignia is a company-car favourite that has lots to recommend it
The Vauxhall Insignia compares well with key class rivals like the Ford Mondeo and VW Passat, after years of its predecessor the Vectra playing second fiddle. Efficient engines and smooth motorway cruising ability mean it's an ideal company car, but high equipment levels and a spacious cabin make it equally at home as a family hauler. The main downside for private buyers is that the Insignia's popularity with fleets sees it sell in big numbers – which results in very poor residual values. These are offset by low running costs and generally good reliability.
Our choice: SE Nav 2.0 CDTi (130PS) ecoFLEX S/S
The elegantly styled Vauxhall Insignia is one of the smartest-looking cars in its class, although the fact that the majority of them tend to be ordered in dull silver and grey colours doesn't help its case. It looks best with large alloys filling its generous arches, but buyers may prefer the better ride quality that comes with smaller wheels. It's hard to tell the difference between a hatchback and saloon Insignia – the hatchback has a rear wiper, the saloon doesn't - which in some respects limits the appeal of the saloon version, as four-door models of family cars have tended to look more upmarket than their hatchback equivalents.
The Vauxhall Insignia hasn't managed to unseat the Ford Mondeo from its position as the best-driving mid-range saloon car you can buy. But it's still poised and comfortable on most roads, even though it lacks the Ford's well weighted steering and sharp responses. The 2.0-litre diesel engine suits the character of the car best, offering plenty of low-down torque for easy overaking without the need to constantly shift down gears. The Insignia's wonderfully comfortable seats make it a great tool for long-distance driving, and it matches the ability of many significantly more expensive cars in this regard.
A 21st-place finish overall in our Driver Power 2012 ownership survey confirms the Insignia's status as a dependable choice, with owners impressed by its solid build quality in particular. There have been two minor recalls, and some electrical issues, but overall the Insignia has proved to be fairly reliable. Optional adaptive headlights, which turn in the same direction as the car is moving to give a better view around corners, are added to more conventional safety kit such as six airbags, electronic stability control and Isofix child-seat mounting points. The Insignia scored the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP's crash tests, too.
Naturally, the Insignia saloon is not as practical as its hatchback and Sport Tourer counterparts. But although it lacks the flexibility of a hatch opening, it's still a spacious and well thought-out car. The boot will hold 500 litres of luggage, though it's harder to make full of use of this given the saloon's narrower opening. And while front-seat passengers have plenty of room to stretch out and lots of storage spaces, those in the rear can feel a bit cramped by the limited headroom – a consequence of the car's swoopy, coupe-like roofline.
Depending on what engine you choose, the Insignia can be very cheap to run indeed. All trim levels are available with ecoFLEX diesel engines, which return very impressive mid-sixties fuel economy and emit just 116g/km of CO2. While that option is ideal for high-mileage and company-car drivers, private buyers should also consider Vauxhall's efficient new 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, which is plenty poweful enough for a car the size of the Insignia, yet will still do a claimed 50mpg. At the other end of the scale, the 2.8-litre V6 4x4 model offers 260bhp performance but returns a dismal 26mpg.