Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer

Does newcomer build on strengths of hatch to top the class?

The Vectra estate was a hauler from the old school: it put space ahead of looks, and had one of the biggest load areas in the business. The new Insignia takes a different approach. With its tapering roof and wraparound tailgate, the Sports Tourer is designed to look good.

It’s not much different to the hatch from the front, but it’s all change at the rear. We think the rounded tailgate and large light clusters are heavy-handed – the Ford wins the battle for kerb appeal.

The Vauxhall has a trick up its sleeve in the form of its powered tailgate. It’s fitted to all SE and Elite models, and raises at the push of a button to reveal a wide opening, plus – unlike in the Mondeo – a flat loading lip.

Unusually, the rear lights are mounted on the tailgate, so there are extra clusters inside the opening on either side of the luggage area. They’re still visible when the boot is open and satisfy legal requirements, but highlight the quirky design.

With the rear seats in place, the Insignia is slightly more spacious than the Vectra, and its 540-litre capacity is only two litres down on the Ford’s. The raised boot floor hides a shallow storage tray, and provides a flat load area when you fold the rear seats.

If outright capacity is your priority, the Sports Tourer will disappoint. Although the space is longer, its 1,510-litre maximum is 223 litres down on the Mondeo’s. Up front, the layout is attractive and features high-quality materials – the only letdown is the questionable wood-effect trim. Generous kit on the SE Nav includes climate control, an electronic handbrake and Bluetooth.

 Hit the road and the Sports Tourer is an accomplished performer. We weren’t surprised that it proved slower than the Mondeo, as the 158bhp 2.0 CDTI delivers 15bhp less power and our test car had onlya few hundred miles on the clock. It took one second longer to cover 0-60mph, with a time of 10.1 seconds, while it didn’t have the in-gear punch of its rival, either.

But the Insignia provides impressive high-speed refinement. The suspension is tuned for comfort rather than fun, so it smooths out rough surfaces effectively.

What it lacks is poise. While the steering is precise and the gearshift positive, the Mondeo is more involving. The Insignia’s reactions aren’t as quick or its body control as tight, and its brakes don’t have the bite of the Ford’s. Even so, with generous kit, great prices and a practical, attractive interior, the Sports Tourer is a strong choice.

Details

WHY: Insignia has impressed with its refinement and comfort. How does estate model rate?

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