MT REVIEWS: Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer

This 4x4 may not be prestigious, but it's a valid down-to-earth alternative to costlier rivals, says Matthew Gwyther.

by Matthew Gwyther
Last Updated: 29 Apr 2014

Brands, eh? Fickle things. Here is Karl-Thomas Neumann, the chief executive of General Motors' European sub-brand Opel, talking recently about his frustrations with the perceptions of his potential customers: 'There was a red elephant standing beside the car that nobody talked about, which says: "You can't buy me because I'm an Opel."We're talking about a wall in the head ... (The) Opel brand in Germany didn't help any more, it was hindering.'

If Herr Neumann thinks that the Opel name has a wall-in-the-head/red-elephant problem, one wonders what he thinks about Vauxhall. Sexy it isn't. 'Vauxhall Conference' doesn't shout top-end desirability (the Royal Vauxhall Tavern is something else altogether).

This is a shame. I've always liked Vauxhalls. To me, the brand said decent, honest, properly engineered, semi-Germanic reliability, even if it originated in Luton. My wife swears that the battered Astra she owned in the 1990s was one of the finest sets of wheels she has ever possessed. I remain keener on estates than many of the ludicrous, butch-looking SUVs that have all the aerodynamic properties of a brick. I'm in a minority here: the sales of station wagons haven't fared well recently.

The Insignia estate, especially in this fancy, rugged 4WD Country Tourer version, is a perfectly acceptable piece of quasi-rural family-guy/girl kit. It's an honest wet-dog-and-welly machine. The styling looks crisp and sleek, reminiscent of the Honda Aerodeck. Less attractive is the noise the diesel makes when you turn it on - a sort of 1970s-style agricultural clatter. This is not a wildly refined car and quite thrummy on motorways.

In the damp winter, I drove the Vauxhall down to Devon to see a friend with the wife and two veg. He'd recently driven his new BMW 3 Series Touring through what looked like a puddle. The Teuton had to be written off, costing his insurance company £36,000.

The moral is to find out the height of the air intake and always travel with a ruler.

The Vauxhall would have been a 10-grand-cheaper mistake. Its 4x4 system works well on bad roads and it feels solid, but its flight panel is fiddly and confusing - Herr Neumann and the guys have a way to go before achieving the calm logic of a BMW dashboard. Overall, I was hardly wowed by the Insignia, but I could see no sign of a red elephant.

Vauxhall Insignia  Spourts Tourer

Engine: 1,956 cc, four-cylinder, turbodiesel
Transmission: six-speed manual
Fuel consumption: 50.4 mpg
 CO2 emissions (combined cycle): 147 g/km
Power: 161 bhp @ 4,000 rpm
Torque: 258 lb/ft @ 3,500 to 1,7500 rpm
0-60 mph: 10.9 seconds
Top speed: 127 mph

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Why your turnaround is failing

Be careful where you look for advice.

Crash course: How to find hidden talent

The best person for the role might be closer than you think.

What they don't tell you about flexible working

The realities of ditching the nine to five don't always live up to the hype....

The business case for compassion: Nando's, Cisco and Innocent Drinks

Consciously, systematically humane cultures reap enormous benefits, argues academic Amy Bradley.

“I have great respect for the capital markets, but I don’t want their ...

Exclusive: PA Consulting CEO Alan Middleton on acquisition bids, growth strategy and life after private...

Dame Inga Beale: “I was told I didn’t deserve to be alive”

The former CEO of Lloyd's of London reveals the leadership lessons that shaped her career...