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Vauxhall Insignia 5-dr 2.0 CDTi ecoFLEX 130PS Exclusiv Nav Start/Stop

Click to view picture gallery“If you consider the Insignia to be
  merely a
company car and not much
  else, you need to revise your view

  particularly the versatile five-door
  powered by the 2.0-litre CDTi in its
  most frugal ecoFLEX guise...”

BUYERS AFTER A LOW-CO2 MAINSTREAM car often have to settle for low-power engines but Vauxhall's 128bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel ecoFLEX means you can be green and do more than just hope to keep up with traffic.

The '130PS' ecoFLEX produces 128bhp from its four cylinders backed up by a hefty 221lb ft of torque between 1,750 and 2,500rpm. And yet it manages to keep emissions low — at 116g/km — and fuel economy high: 62.4mpg in the combined cycle (urban 53.3; extra-urban 72.4mpg). After a week's driving in our hands the driver's information display was showing a very acceptable 50.5mpg. Which, given the Insignia's 4.9 x 1.9-metre footprint, is a notable result.

So, does that make it a player or is it all smoke and mirrors? Get behind the wheel of the ecoFLEX and you'll be very pleasantly surprised very quickly because there's no 'eco' compromise: it doesn't sound 'diesely'; drives just like a normal 128bhp turbodiesel; and even in top gear there's still good response to the throttle.

“You can’t criticise the
ecoFLEX’s get-up-
and-go — it accelerates
fluently and cruising
along at the legal limit it
goes about its business
without any fuss,
smoothly eating up
the miles
It may say 'economy special' on the label but with 0-60mph coming up in a respectable 10.4 seconds and a maximum speed of 129mph, you can't criticise its on-road get-up-and-go.

With 221lb ft of torque on tap, the ecoFLEX accelerates fluently. And cruising along at the legal limit it goes about its business without any fuss (helped by an easy-changing six-speed manual 'box), smoothly eating up the miles. And at times like this, driven on a light throttle, you'll begin to wonder if the fuel gauge has stopped working, so slowly does it drop.

As part of its 'eco' make-up this Insignia runs, as standard, on low-resistance rubber although our test car was riding on a set of upgraded (490) smart-looking, multispoke 18-inch alloy wheels with 245/45R 18 Continental ContiContactSport tyres.

Green it might be but the ecoFLEX is also really pleasant to drive. It feels composed on major roads and away from them you get decent body control with direct, responsive steering, positive brakes (discs all round) and sure grip through corners. Placing the Insignia precisely is easy and the ride is more than acceptable, soaking up the worst of the bumps so both you and your passengers can climb out at the end of a long journey suitably unshaken.

Although not obvious, the ecoFLEX wears a full set of aerodynamic aids to enhance how far each precious litre of fuel goes, including drag-reducing underbody panelling, a lowered ride height and, under the bonnet, a Start/Stop system making sure stop-start urban traffic driving is as economical as possible.

Neither does greening-up mean a hair-shirt interior. Standard kit on the ecoFLEX includes electronic climate control with AirCon, SatNav with 7-inch colour screen, cruise control, electric parking brake, power height-adjustment plus four-way power lumbar adjustment on the driver's seat, auto lights, one-shot power front windows (manual wind-ups in the back), power adjustable heated door mirrors, auto drive-off central locking, trip computer, driver's sunglasses holder and a 60:40 split-folding rear seat with load-through facility.

“Five doors and five
seats is what you get and
at close to five metres
long and almost two
metres wide, there’s
room in all directions
for real-world adults

both in the front
and even in the back
of the Insignia hatch
Safety equipment is headlined by a five-star Euro NCAP rating plus airbags for all (including full-size curtain airbags), Electronic Stability Programme, active-safety front seat head restraints, ISOFIX child seat fixtures, etc.

Five doors and five seats is what you get and at close to five metres long and almost two metres wide, there's room in all directions for real-world adults both in the front and in the back of the Insignia hatch.

The positive impressions start with the doors — they close with the reassuring sound of quality. Head and leg room is in good supply wherever you sit and drivers will find it easy to set a driving position that's just right for them personally thanks to the generous range of seat and steering wheel adjustment — a nice touch is the extending front seat base for better under-knee support and the power seat height and lumbar adjustment.

The cloth-upholstered seats — in a smart black and white fabric with a 3D feel — are effectively bolstered and particularly comfortable, especially so on long journeys.

More driver convenience is provided by headrests that adjust easily thanks to quick-release buttons on the sides, height-adjustable front seatbelts and a sunglasses holder in the driver's headlining. The centre armrest features damped closing (the accommodating cubby beneath it offers a 12V power outlet, SD card slot, USB and AUX ports) and the traditional handbrake has been replaced by a parking brake button on the fascia.

Another appreciated touch is the digital mph readout that can be displayed on the driver's information screen (other choices include range and key navigation prompts). Scrolling through the functions is easy via a button on the indicator stalk.

And talking of which, the driver can easily disable the one-touch-3-flash indicators for the more traditional — and more practical — setting. The SatNav is well sited and easy to take in at a glance with, if you want, key directions slaved to the driver display. Four individual chrome-rimmed dials — larger speedo and rev-counter; smaller fuel and temperature — use crystal-clear white markings on black faces: still the best visual combination.

The cabin architecture is tasteful with smart satin chrome trim delineating the fascia and door capping inserts, and the neatly integrated centre stack creates a welcoming two-seat cockpit feel enjoyed by both driver and front passenger.

“Undeniably a handsome
machine, the Insignia
has strong presence,
particularly at the
business end — seeing
one coming up in your
rear-view mirror it
appears as substantial
as a big Merc
Despite the sloping coupe-esque roofline, the rear cabin is airy and, if you're less than six foot, you won't have any problems with headroom. A wide, well padded centre armrest separates outer seats that match those in the front and adds to the restful ambience; it also permits a useful load-through hatch to the large, wide and long 530-litre boot.

Drop the split-fold rear seats and you'll have 1,470 litres of versatile loadbay with a flat, full-length floor. And, commendably, the rear wiper clears most of the rear screen so rearward visibility on wet roads is good.

Heavy rear three-quarter pillars mean you'll be glad of the parking sensors when the time comes. You'll also be pleased to know that, should you ever need it, there's a full-size spare wheel so you can continue your journey without any worries.

Undeniably a handsome machine, the Insignia has strong presence, particularly at the business end — coming up behind you, it appears as substantial and intimidating in your rear-view mirror as a big Mercedes-Benz.

This ecoFLEX Insignia combines style, space and comfort with family-size practicality — a combo perfectly suited for motorists wanting a large 'green' family hatch. It's also pleasantly driveable and, perhaps best of all, it makes every litre of expensive diesel go that important extra mile. — MotorBar

Vauxhall Insignia 5-dr 2.0 CDTi ecoFLEX 130PS Exclusiv Nav Start/Stop | 23,040
Maximum speed: 129mph | 0-60mph: 10.4 seconds | Overall test MPG: 50.5mpg
Power: 128bhp | Torque: 221lb ft | CO2 116g/km