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Used Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer review

A full used buyer’s guide on the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer covering the Insignia Sports Tourer Mk1 (2009-date)

Savage depreciation makes the Insignia a great used buy, as it’s comfortable, well equipped and a fine motorway cruiser. But rivals are more refined and better to drive, and this isn’t the class’s most reliable car. Our Driver Power survey results suggest the Insignia’s star has faded more quickly than Vauxhall would have liked, so it’s clear that more talented rivals are available. But as those alternatives generally cost more – in some cases a lot more – if you’re after a stylish holdall for the family and you’re not worried about impressing the neighbours, the Insignia Sports Tourer could be perfect.

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After the underwhelming Vectra, the Insignia was a breath of fresh air. At last, here was a Vauxhall that could take the fight to Ford’s Mondeo, even if it wasn’t a convincing substitute for premium models such as the Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series.

Spacious, stylish and packed with kit, the Insignia was talented enough to take the 2009 European Car of the Year award. And that was just the hatch. The estate – dubbed Sports Tourer by the company – looks even smarter, and it’s much more usable thanks to the extra carrying capacity.

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But as with many Vauxhalls, the Insignia sheds its value rapidly, which is why used examples make such spectacular buys.

Models covered

The Vauxhall Insignia replaced the Vectra, with the Sports Tourer model arriving in 2009. Despite a facelift in 2013, it’s still in its first-generation and we’re focusing on that in this review.

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  • Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer (2009-date) - Sports Tourer offers loads of space for not much cash

History

The Insignia saloon and hatchback arrived in January 2009 with 1.8, 2.0T or 2.8T V6 petrol engines, or a 2.0 CDTi diesel offering a choice of 128bhp or 158bhp. The Sports Tourer came along two months later with the same engine and trim options. In April 2009, the 139g/km 2.0 CDTi ecoFLEX appeared, along with the 321bhp 2.8 V6 VXR, with standard four-wheel drive.

A 1.4-litre petrol turbo arrived in May 2011, then a facelift in October 2013 brought new multimedia, improved refinement, plus revised suspension and steering, as well as a 99g/km 2.0 CDTi and a 168bhp SIDI petrol turbo. It also reduced the number of trims. The high-spec Country Tourer 4x4 all-road estate launched at the same time, with a raised ride height.

Prices

One-year-old cars will be between £12,000 and £17,000 depending on specification, while a four-year-old Insignia Sports Tourer will be in the £8,000 to £11,000 bracket.

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Visit our sister site BuyaCar for the latest used Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer prices and deals

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer reviews

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Which one should I buy?

Three-quarters of Insignias have a diesel; the 2.0 CDTi is best in 158bhp form as the 128bhp version isn’t as flexible. If you prefer petrol, the 1.6T makes most sense as it’s zesty but not too thirsty. If you often tow, a four-wheel-drive example is worth seeking out, but you’ll have to search to find one.

The entry-level ES gets ESP, air-con, cruise control and electrically adjustable/heated door mirrors. Exclusiv spec adds climate control, while the SE and SRi also feature alloy wheels, electric rear windows and privacy glass. The SRi also features sports suspension. The top-of-the-range Elite has front and rear parking sensors, bi-xenon headlights and leather. 

Alternatives to the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer

In terms of value, the Ford Mondeo is the Insignia’s key rival. As with the Vauxhall, it’s in plentiful supply, plus it’s cheap, well equipped and generally reliable. It’s much more fun to drive, though, while the cabin has more character. The Honda Accord is stylish, reliable and good to drive, and it’s less common than the Mondeo, too.

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Arguably the best all-rounder in this class is Skoda’s Superb, which always does well in our annual Driver Power satisfaction survey. Owners say they love its reliability, practicality and driving dynamics, while it’s also well equipped and offers some excellent engines. In addition, think about the Peugeot 508Citroen C5 and Renault Laguna; all provide superb value.

What to look for:

Steering

Some early diesel-engined Insignias can suffer from power-steering fluid leaks. Dealers know of the problem, but no recall was issued. 

Electronics

All sorts of electrical glitches can crop up, including the dashboard displays and/or illumination switching off. However, such issues are unpredictable. 

Brakes

On some cars the rear brake pads can bind. The pads have since been redesigned, but any car with older parts may be suffering from binding brakes. 

Misfire

Some owners have found that their cars judder or appear to misfire at high speeds; adding some Redex to the fuel tank periodically can fix the problem.

Interior

The dash is attractive and well laid out, while the seats have an unusually wide range of adjustment. For even greater comfort, find a car with the optional Ergonomic Sports Seats. Rear space is generous, but the boot – which expands from 520 litres to 1,460 litres with the seats folded – trails class rivals’.

Running costs

All Insignias need to be serviced every 12 months or 20,000 miles. The checks alternate between minor and major, costing £149 and £199 respectively, regardless of which engine is fitted (although this excludes the VXR).

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All petrol engines are chain-driven apart from the 1.6T and 1.8; their cambelt should be renewed every six years or 100,000 miles, at £259. The 2.0 CDTi also has a belt, to be replaced every 10 years/100,000 miles. The brake fluid has to be renewed every two years/40,000 miles, at £35. An air-con service (every two to three years) is £99. 

Recalls

The Insignia’s been recalled twice, the first in November 2010 because of a problem with the steering wheel-mounted airbag. In some cases it didn’t deploy correctly; 9,000 cars were affected. In January 2011, nearly 1,300 Insignias were recalled because the electric window anti-trap function could fail, leading to trapped fingers.

In both cases, Vauxhall couldn’t give us build dates of the cars affected. However, any dealer can tell you whether or not any potential buy would need to have work done, and this would be carried out for free. 

Driver Power owner satisfaction

Having entered our Driver Power satisfaction survey in sixth place in 2011, the Insignia has since dropped to 21st (2012), 98th (2013) and 112th (2014) before dropping out of the top 150. 

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