Words by Wayne Gorrett
The first thing you’ll notice about the all-new Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer estate is that it’s big. At almost five metres long, the Vauxhall is 125mm longer than a Škoda Superb Estate – which itself is little short of gargantuan.
A common sight on British roads since its initial introduction in 2009, this second-generation Insignia Sports Tourer is a far more accomplished all-rounder than its predecessor. It’s bigger, more enjoyable to drive and better value than ever.
However, it certainly has its work cut out in competing for buyers at a time when many are falling for the charms of premium rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate, BMW’s 3-Series Touring or the Audi A4 Avant.
Designed by Brit Mark Adams, the Sports Tourer is built at Opel’s plant in Rüsselsheim, Germany and rides on the new E2XX platform which brings overall weight reduction, improved interior space and facilitates extended wheelbases.
There’s a new grille and top trims have the all-new IntelliLux LED matrix headlights which feature 32 lighting elements offering automatic transitions between lighting patterns to suit driving conditions.
Inside is where you’ll notice the improvements in the quality of materials quality and the dashboard has undergone a comprehensive decluttering this time around and Vauxhall are to be commended for retaining proper, intuitive switches for important things like the air-conditioning and stereo.
Inside, the cabin is light and airy and the rear window is far away in the rear view mirror. The rev counter and fuel gauge are physical instruments but the speedo is a neat, customisable graphic version with a large numerical display. Front and rear seats are very comfortable and finding a good driving position is easy thanks to the multi-point adjustability of the seat and steering wheel.
Trims and Equipment
On all big sellers in the automotive world you’ll find a wide range of trims and specifications and here, the new Insignia ST is no different. There are eight trim grades available to suit all private and company buyers, starting with Design, Design Nav, SRi, SRi Nav, SRi VX-Line Nav, Tech Line Nav and Elite Nav versions.
Standard equipment on the entry-level Design model includes; 17-inch bi-colour alloy wheels, auto lights, keyless entry and start, air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, Vauxhall’s own IntelliLink audio system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Vauxhall OnStar virtual concierge service, ESP, ABS, front camera system, six airbags and three rear Isofix points
As the derivative suggests, Design Nav adds Vauxhall’s Navi 900 IntelliLink system with UK/EU mapping via a larger eight-inch colour touchscreen.
Engines and Drivetrains
Engine choices for your new Insignia ST will depend on your needs and purpose. There are six engines in total comprising three petrol and three diesels with varying degrees of power output. All are four-cylinder and turbocharged and only the notable 1.5-litre petrol in either 140bhp or 165bhp state of tune is a new unit with the others carried over from the previous Insignia.
The engine range is topped by the 260bhp 2.0-litre performance model that’s only available in Elite trim, with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive with torque vectoring, which distributes the amount of power to each wheel depending on the driving conditions.
However, it’s the trio of turbo-diesels that should comprise the majority of the new Insignia ST sales. The most efficient in the line-up is the 110bhp 1.6-litre which has official emissions and average fuel economy figures of 105g/km and 70.6mpg respectively.
The two other diesels are the same 1.6-litre, but tuned to 136bhp and a 2.0-litre unit offering 170bhp. Both are the only pair offered with the new automatic gearbox as well as the six-speed manual fitted across the range.
On the Road
As a driving machine, the Sports Tourer moves closer to its premium rivals and is comfortable, safe and easy to drive – once you’ve acclimatised to its bulk. The steering is accurate and the car is easy to place on open roads and, while this isn’t a car that many will choose to take out on the road for the sheer thrill of driving, it can still make the daily slog enjoyable if you take a longer, more winding route home.
Bearing in mind the size of the car and the quality of the ride, body control is impressive. You can induce quite a bit of lean in a brisk corner but it doesn’t lurch or dive under hard braking.
This second-generation Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer has built on the strengths of its predecessor, and added real competence in the drive, practicality and standard kit level departments.
Okay, it doesn’t dominate in any one area, but it does put in a very strong showing in a number of key ones and can’t really be faulted in any. There's a revised engine range, major styling changes, a significantly improved interior and the imminent arrival of a fashionable AWD Country Tourer model, too.
If you're after a genuine all-rounder that's comfortable and entertaining on the road, has a decent carrying capacity and looks that can turn a few heads, Vauxhall’s new Insignia Sports Tourer should make a sound and sensible choice.