Vauxhall Insignia Whisper diesel 2016 review

New diesel engine gives the family car a well-needed lift

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Insignia is a forgotten model of the family car class, but this new 1.6-litre diesel proves it still has something to offer – particularly for business users. With an attractive price and low CO2 emissions, it makes plenty of sense as a company car. It’s also frugal and drives well, plus the updated interior has real premium appeal. But this new model is still not as complete a proposition as the Skoda Superb, while the firm ride undermines the car’s otherwise excellent refinement.

Over the past decade, the popularity of traditional family cars has decreased, as buyers make the switch to more glamorous SUVs, crossovers and compact executive models. However, Vauxhall hasn’t given up on the class just yet, and hopes this new and improved addition to the Insignia range will win back customers.

Using the latest ‘Whisper’ 1.6-litre diesel engine – which debuted last year in the Zafira Sport Tourer and new Astra – the newcomer promises to deliver class-leading efficiency, with penny-pinching running costs for both business and private users.

There’s no doubt the Insignia looks good on paper. For example, this Sport Tourer version emits just 104g/km of CO2 and claims 72.4mpg economy. The hatchback model dips under 100g/km and delivers another 2mpg at the pumps.

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This 1.6-litre turbodiesel isn’t intrusive, yet it doesn’t live up to its Whisper name. It improves on the move, where the engine revs smoothly and is subdued when cruising. With a claimed 0-62mph time of 11.4 seconds, it’s not particularly fast, while long gearing blunts low-speed response. 

But thanks to a healthy 320Nm of torque at 2,000rpm, the Vauxhall feels brisk once you’re on the move and breezes up steeper inclines thanks to its mid-range punch. In all other respects, the driving experience is standard Insignia, with composed handling, light controls and decent refinement.

EcoFLEX models get lowered, stiffened suspension, which results in a harsh ride even on 17-inch alloys. Elsewhere, this car remains unchanged. It’s well finished and attractively priced, but still trails rivals such as the Skoda Superb for overall appeal.

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