Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer Exclusiv ecoFLEX

Sharp styling, eco credentials and a cheaper price present stiff challenge to the Superb.

Green is the new black in automotive fashion, and even family estates aren’t immune. The latest addition to Vauxhall’s ecoFLEX family is the Insignia Sports Tourer, which  features aero tweaks, tall gearing and low rolling resistance tyres to boost economy.

You’ll be hard-pushed to tell it apart from a standard model, though. Apart from a redesigned grille, discreet badging and subtle wind channels on the rear window, there’s little difference. That’s a good thing, as the Insignia is a smart piece of design, with a gently sloping roofline towards the rear.

As with the Skoda, the Vauxhall uses chrome detailing and roof rails to good effect, and its narrow side windows and our test car’s optional £435 alloys mean it’s a sleek, desirable choice. But the huge rear overhang makes it look very long, so it’s not quite as well balanced as the Superb.

Inside, the dashboard layout is more modern than the Skoda’s, but it struggles to impress in a number of key areas. The instruments are fussy and hard to read, the switchgear on the centre console attracts unsightly finger marks and the gearlever is positioned too far back for our liking.

We have no complaints, though, about the size of the boot, as it is both wider and longer than the Skoda with the rear seats in place. However, the roofline means that neither the load area nor opening is as tall as the Skoda’s. Practical touches include a shallow false floor, a boot net and a flat load lip. The 2.0-litre diesel engine, meanwhile, is relatively refined, while the 350Nm torque figure matches that of the Skoda.

The extra-long gearing provides impressive economy on the motorway – at 70mph the engine is turning over at only 1,650rpm – but it often requires a further downchange than you would expect to make decent progress. And regardless of the gear ratio selected, it struggled to match the Skoda at the test track and proved frustrating around town.

On the open road, the Insignia is agile and sharp, but it doesn’t provide the same level of feedback as its rival, with light steering and more body roll. Surface imperfections are also transmitted through the suspension, even at cruising speeds. With a price that undercuts the Czech model by £1,225, the Insignia looks good value, but take equipment into account and the balance swings in favour of the Superb.

The Skoda comes with leather seats as standard, yet these cost £1,280 on the Vauxhall. The Insignia also lacks electric windows in the rear. However, if being kind to the planet is your primary concern, the Insignia’s more fuel efficient and less polluting design is the best choice .

Allied to impressive carrying ability and smart styling, the Vauxhall holds plenty of appeal.But does it have the sparkle to shine against the superb Skoda?

In detail * Price: £23,565 * Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 158bhp * 0-60mph: 10.1 seconds * Economy: 37.8mpg * Claimed CO2: 139g/km * Max load space: 1,530 litres

Details

WHY: The Insignia is our reigning estate car of the year, and the ecoFLEX model uses special gearing and aero tweaks to improve efficiency.

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