New Vauxhall Insignia 1.5 diesel 2021 review

The Vauxhall Insignia is now available with a new 1.5-litre 3-cylinder diesel engine, but is it the pick of the range?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

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The appeal of large mainstream hatchbacks like the Insignia isn’t what it used to be, but the Vauxhall remains a decent all rounder in what is becoming a shrinking market. It’s striking, loaded with standard kit and offers great value for money. However, the new 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel is a weak link, lacking power and refinement.

Traditional big family hatchbacks like the Vauxhall Insignia are rapidly falling out of favour with buyers, so much so that the next one due in a couple of years will transform into a crossover. 

But until that arrives Vauxhall has updated its Skoda Superb rival to try and inject a bit of life into this ageing model.

This 1.5-litre diesel in SRi VX-Line Nav trim is likely to be a popular choice with buyers left shopping in this sector, and at £28,720, or around £355 per month on a PCP deal, it comes with a more digestible price tag than the range-topping Insignia GSi.

It’s loaded with kit, with an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated seats and steering wheel, cruise and dual-zone climate control, 20-inch alloys, LED lights, and wireless charging all fitted as standard. 

The 1.5-litre diesel is all-new to the Insignia and unusual being one of very few three-cylinder diesels on the market. It develops 121bhp and 300Nm of torque and drives through a six-speed manual gearbox. 

The first thing that you notice once you fire it up is the noise; combine the thrummy nature of a three-cylinder engine and the unavoidable clatter of a diesel unit and the results are inevitable. 

On the move, the lack of power is the next thing you notice. The engine feels pretty dormant below 2,500rpm, but by 3,500rpm it feels like it’s running out of steam - a 0-62mph time of 10.7 seconds feels as slow as it sounds. That lack of power wouldn’t be such a problem if the Insignia glided up to motorway speeds quietly and smoothly, but engine refinement could be better. 

It fades into the background at a cruise but any overtaking manoeuvres will require you to work the six-speed gearbox - which has quite a long but weighty throw - so you can access the engine’s rather narrow power band. A consequence of that is a rather lowly return of 41mpg - some distance from Vauxhall claim of up to 61mpg. 

The larger capacity and more punchy 174bhp 2.0-litre diesel is perhaps the engine to go for if diesel might suit your needs, which will add around £40 a month on a PCP deal. But it’ll bring a welcome increase in performance and refinement. 

The standard 20-inch alloys on SRi VX-Line Nav trim certainly give the Insignia a bit of road presence, but at the expense of comfort. The wheels thud into potholes and send jolts through the cabin, but at speed on the motorway it settles and becomes a great long-distance cruiser. 

It falls into the 27 per cent Benefit-in-Kind tax bracket so will cost company car drivers paying tax at the lower rate £1,538 per year to run and high-rate payers £3,077. That’s as cheap as the Insignia gets to run as there is no plug-in hybrid option, unlike its main rivals the VW Passat and Skoda Superb

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And while the Insignia is practical, with a big 490-litre boot and generous rear passenger space, its key rivals offer more. The VW serves up 585 litres of space and the Skoda a whopping 625 litres.

Model: Vauxhall Insignia SRi VX-Line Nav 1.5 diesel manual
Price: £28,720
Engine: 1.5-litre 3cyl diesel 
Power/torque: 121bhp/300Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive
0-62mph: 10.7 seconds
Top speed: 127mph
CO2: 121g/km
Economy: 61.4mpg
On sale: Now

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