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Vauxhall Insignia Tech Line 1.6 CDTi 136PS ecoFLEX

Click to view picture gallery“Despite all the aspirational buzz,
  most family car buyers aren’t
  seduced by the glossy glut of SUVs
  and crossovers competing for
  their hard-earned cash — they
  still demand ‘traditional’ room for
  their families...”


THE KIND OF ROOM for driver and passengers, as well as their luggage, that only a large saloon or hatchback can provide. Think 'sensibly-priced, genuine family five-seater' and one of the first that springs to mind is Vauxhall's Insignia. Available in both practical five-door hatch and sporty estate versions, there's a bodyshape to suit every need.

And that goes for the engines, too. While a 170mph VXR SuperSport hatch with 325PS tops the Insignia range, perfect for most will be the 136PS 1.6 CDTi ecoFLEX model that not only delivers all the space you'll need but, fitted with Vauxhall's responsive 'Whisper' diesel engine, delivers low running costs — no road tax ever (thanks to 99g/km emissions) and a real-world 58+mpg (we averaged 58.1mpg over a week's hard driving).

Vauxhall’s responsive
‘Whisper’ diesel engine
delivers low running
costs — no road tax ever
(thanks to 99g/km
emissions) and a real-
world 58+mpg
(we averaged 58.1mpg
over a week’s hard
driving).
‘Regular’ drivers may
do even better because
the official Combined
Cycle figure is
74.3mpg...”
While 58mpg is pretty damn good, there may be more to come for 'regular' drivers because the official Combined Cycle figure is 74.3mpg — easy to see why most buyers are plumping for these wallet-friendly diesel models. Another easy-to-live-with 'plus' is the 70-litre (15.4-gallon) fuel tank which means as much as 750 miles between fill- ups.

British power outputs for the 136PS/320Nm unit are 134bhp and a hefty 236lb ft of torque on call from 2,000rpm — enough to take the six-speed manual ecoFLEX to a near-double-the-legal-speed-limit 130mph and hit 60mph from standstill in 10.9 seconds.

Looks-wise there's nothing 'sensibly priced' about the Insignia hatch. Fronted by Vauxhall's latest 'family face' — large grille and sharp LED headlight treatment — and capped by a coupe-esque roofline that slopes back to a tailgate with cut-in rear light units linked by a broad chrome bar, it looks decidedly elegant; and easily as eye-catching as some far more expensive executive models.

Measuring 4.8 metres long by 1.85 metres wide, the Insignia hatch gives you a lot of footprint for your money — and inside it's as big as it external lines promise. The curvy wraparound dash promotes a twin-cockpit look, centre stage of which sits one of Vauxhall's Navi 900 IntelliLink infotainment systems with a decent size colour touchscreen; immediately below it is a neat cluster of foolproof controls for the automatic climate system — most drivers will be happy with this set-up because they still like to use their fingers rather than stab a touchscreen to adjust the heating and ventilation.

The infotainment system is as up-to-date as you need today with all the essential connectivity tech and includes Bluetooth, SatNav, stereo DAB digital radio, a CD/MP3 player, USB connection, and aux-in socket. There's also Apple CarPlay so you can synch your smartphone with the display to access apps for music, news, etc. Naturally there's audio streaming, and you can have text messages read aloud.

The SatNav provides timely spoken directions supported by 3D mapping with landmarks (amazingly useful even when you have some idea of where you are; invaluable if you don't have a clue!). Full 7-character postcode destination input is another plus point, and it's reassuring that you can choose either to be asked if you want to change route to avoid congestion or just set the system to automatically take care of it for you before you get close.

The nicely grippy
leather-rimmed steering
wheel is, of course,
multifunction with
controls for cruise and
the speed limiter, phone,
media, and the driver's
computer.
The wheel rim is also
heated; if you haven’t
yet tried one of these
don’t knock it — not only
is it a real boon on
frosty winter mornings,
but long journeys any
time of the year are better
if your fingers
stay warm...”
Within the Insignia's bodyshell there's space to comfortably accommodate five adults. There's also a full fist of headroom for those sitting in the front seats, which are supportive and all the better for quick-to-warm 3-stage heating — with the max setting providing some real heat. The driver is pampered that little bit more than his front passenger, getting power adjustment for seat height and four-way lumbar.

Both seats benefit from non-intrusive but effective bolstering and smart fabric upholstery. The footwells are made to take the biggest booted feet and there's no risk of bashing your shins or knees; the 'clutch foot' rest is set at a relaxing angle for those long runs 'in the cruise'.

The nicely grippy leather-rimmed steering wheel is, of course, multifunction with controls for cruise and the speed limiter, phone, media, and the driver's computer. Dials are clear and traditional in look, with unmistakable white-on-black markings and glowing red needles. The driver's trip computer display shows all the essentials including tyre pressures, range, etc, along with a must-have digital speed readout.

For the record, the wheel rim is also heated; if you haven't yet tried one of these don't knock it — not only is it a real boon on frosty winter mornings, but long journeys any time of the year are better if your fingers stay warm.

In-cabin storage space is in keeping with the Insignia's family-friendly status, with plenty of cubbies — one small and one medium box under the centre front armrest (with USB and aux-in jacks and a 12v power source), twin siamesed cupholders that also serve as a bin with a sliding lid, a deep 'coin' box in the right-hand fascia, and a damped, lit-and-lined glovebox.

While Vauxhall's OnStar is optional, few will object to paying the extra £405 for this personal connectivity and mobility assistant because it provides in-car 4G Wi-Fi; it also connects you to an OnStar advisor rather than an automaton and, most importantly, automatically notifies the emergency services if the airbags deploy.

Other standard-fit equipment that's part and parcel of the Tech Line spec but not already mentioned includes an electric parking brake (with hassle-free drive-away automatic releasing), power-operated one-shot windows, rain-sensing wipers, automatic lighting control (with tunnel detection), auto-dimming rearview mirror, electrically-adjustable and heated door mirrors, tyre pressure monitoring, and tinted glass. Externally there are LED daytime running lights and a set of 7-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels.

The ecoFLEX
turbodiesel lives up to
its ‘Whisper’ name —
you rarely hear it.
The 1.6-litre unit in the
Insignia does a fine job
of keeping it
refined in the cabin —
the car shows its best
side as a restful long-
distance cruiser, when
you can settle back in
your seat and
let the miles waft
quietly by...”
The rear seat base height is just right so getting in and out of the rear cabin is easy. The doors shut behind you with that pleasing thunk long associated with quality engineering. Once settled, your passengers can truly 'lounge' thanks to well-set backrest angles and decent knee-room.

Views out are good with no penalties from the arching rear roofline and the long windows power down all the way into the doors — unusual on coupe-style four-door models but nonetheless welcome for those who like a breath of 'real' air. Also handy are the bottle-holding door bins and magazine pockets on the front seatbacks.

The ecoFLEX turbodiesel lives up to its 'Whisper' name — you rarely hear it and yet it's a diesel of which even the best can sometimes give themselves away. The 134bhp 1.6-litre unit in the Insignia does a fine job of keeping it all refined in the cabin — the car shows its best side as a restful long-distance cruiser, when you can settle back in your seat and let the miles waft quietly by.

It helps too that with 236lb ft of torque you never need to 'wring it out'. If you do feel you need to give it some wellie you'll find it keen enough, with a willing partner in the smooth-changing six-speed manual 'box. It's also handy to be able to turn off the eco-boosting stop-start system should you feel the need to.

The front-wheel driven Insignia hatch has a 'can-do' stance that implies it's 'planted' — and it feels that way from behind the wheel. There's decent grip on offer, decent turn-in from the direct steering with composed and predictable cornering, and the driver can see the road down the bonnet, so placing the Insignia accurately is never a problem. In fact there's also fine visibility to the sides and even through the narrow but wide rear screen. B-roads? Bring 'em on!

Vauxhall's engineers have also done a worthy job of balancing driver-friendly handling with a passenger-friendly ride quality: overall it's a compliant and even ride; more so when cruising. And the 225 section tyres play an active par — their deep ('55' profile) sidewalls absorbing some of the physical disturbance from harder bumps.

For some people a boot is just somewhere to sling the weekly shop… The Insignia's boot is big enough, at 530 litres, to take a lot more than just a week's shopping. And while there's a short drop over the load sill down into the boot, it's not a problem — it's also surprisingly deep with flat sides, so when loading cases and regular-shaped items you can utilise every inch.

For some people a boot
is just somewhere to
sling the weekly shop...
The Insignia’s boot is big
enough, at 530 litres,
to take a lot more than
just a week’s shopping:
folding down the
60:40 split rear backrests
opens up a 1,470-litre
cargo bay...”
For those occasions when you need to utilise the full loadbay, dropping the 60:40 split-folding rear backrests takes but seconds (the belts stay well out of the way, which is good) and opens up a cargo bay that will swallow as much as 1,470 litres. And, unlike in some hatchbacks, the space opened up by folding the Insignia's rear seats is a full-width and full-height rectangular cut-out so you really can make full use of it.

If you prefer to pull your load along behind you then the 136PS ecoFLEX unit can haul a braked 1,800kg. And should ever have the misfortune of a puncture, you'll find a tyre repair kit under floor.

Safety is well covered with a EuroNCAP five-star rating, six airbags, height-adjustable front seatbelts, and Isofix child seat mounts in the rear. ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) is standard plus there are a number of optional advanced driver's aids such as forward collision alert, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and auto-park with front and rear cameras (with blind spot and rear traffic alerts).

With a 'whisper quiet' diesel under the bonnet, room for five adults, over 500 litres for luggage, and 58+mpg, the smartly-styled Insignia is a big hit with buyers. Better still, buying and running one won't break the family bank. ~ MotorBar
.
Vauxhall Insignia Tech Line 1.6 CDTi 136PS ecoFLE
X | £23,785
Maximum speed: 130mph | 0-60mph: 10.9 seconds | Test Average: 58.1mpg
Power: 134bhp | Torque: 236lb ft | CO2: 99g/km

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