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Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer SRi Nav 2.0 CDTi 140 ecoFLEX

Click to view picture gallery“Once upon a time people bought
  lots of estate cars. Then along came
  crossovers and SUVs and lured
  away the traditional estate buyers.
  However, what goes around comes
  around and today new generations
  of savvy buyers are appreciating
  the virtues of the current crop
  of stylish estate cars...”

VAUXHALL'S SLIPSTREAM-CHEATING Insignia Sports Tourer is one such estate vying for your money and, hailing from Vauxhall, there's a wide choice of models, trims and engines even an all-wheel-drive higher-riding Country Tourer. And with prices kicking off at under 19K, they're pretty much on the money. Should you have a need for speed, then there's even a 170mph VXR version.

Power for the Sports Tourer can be petrol or diesel. Turboed petrol units offer 1.4, 1.6 and 2.0-litre engines under the bonnet, as well as a 2.8 for customers going down the autobahn-blasting VXR route; oil-burners all use the same core 2.0-litre engine but can he had with a variety of bhp outputs, from 116 through to 192bhp.

“Mirror, mirror, on the
wall, who’s the leanest of
them all?
In the Sports Tourer
line-up it
s the 138bhp
2.0-litre CDTi ecoFLEX
with an official
combined figure of
With their wraparound head and tail lights, wide high-gloss chrome grille and lower stance, the recently refreshed Sports Tourer models are handsome machines and they need to be, given that they compete for sales not just against load-luggers such as Skoda's Octavia and VW's Passat, but also against the likes of the A4 from Audi, the 3 Series from BMW and the C-Class from Mercedes.

But it's not just their looks that appeal... Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the leanest of them all? In the Sports Tourer line-up it's the 138bhp 2.0-litre CDTi ecoFLEX with an official combined figure of 72.4mpg (60.1 urban and 80.7mpg extra-urban). CO2 emissions of 104g/km keep the road tax down to a manageable 20 per year, with no tax payable during the first year of ownership. Stop-Start is fitted and does its bit to maximise economy which in our hands worked out to 51.8mpg. Drivers with lighter right feet should fare even better!

The Sports Tourer Sri, which sits fair and square in the middle of the eight Insignia trim levels, comes with a smart five-seater cabin that's packed with worthwhile equipment such as a touchscreen navigation-infotainment system (includes touch-pad control, IntelliLink, Bluetooth connectivity, USB + aux-in socket, CD player), digital radio, one-shot up/down windows, electrically-adjustable heated door mirrors, ally sports pedal set, tyre pressure monitoring, leather-covered multifunction sports steering wheel (cruise, speed limiter, voice, phone, audio, and driver's information), cruise control, electric parking brake, electronic climate control, tinted glass, privacy glass (from the B-pillar back), trip computer, and driver's ergonomic sports seat with extendable seat cushion and powered four-way lumbar adjustment plus power seat height adjustment.

Other standard-fit kit includes LED daytime running lights, FlexRide, sports suspension, six airbags, 17-inch alloy wheels and an electronic stability programme. Desirable extras fitted to our car included the instrument cluster display (400) that incorporates a reconfigurable 8-inch screen featuring two outer dials showing fuel and revs, while in the centre sits a speedometer that can be shown in analogue or digital form, or changed to show driver-defined details on navigation, smartphone use and audio options all directly in the driver's line of sight. Front and rear parking sensors add another (395).

“Adding much to the
new-look cockpit is the
totally redesigned centre
console and instrument
Ruthlessly simplified,
there are fewer buttons
than ever before.
At its heart is a large
8-inch touchscreen
a cutting-edge,
infotainment system...”
The welcoming cabin is enhanced by a fascia that gives the driver and front passenger a clear sense of their 'own' space with fit-and-finish that wouldn't be out of place on a BMW or Mercedes. There's generous premium finishing too, with carbon-look veneers to the fascia, satin black door inserts, and chrome and satin-chrome highlights.

The sporty, well-bolstered seats have comfy headrests, height-adjustable seatbelts and long bases that provide fine under-thigh support. T
he driver is pampered more than his or her front passenger, with powered height and four-way lumbar adjustment as well as an extending leading edge to the seat base for decent under-knee support all of which makes long trips behind the wheel exceedingly relaxing.

And Sports Tourer drivers don't go short of space either, thanks to generous headroom, plenty of shoulder room and no clashes elbow-wise with their front passenger. Likewise, there's more than enough leg- and knee-room in a cabin that's clearly been designed for 'real' people and which also comes with plenty of practical-sized bins and storage solutions.

The driving position is spot-on, with a well-sited rest for your left foot when 'in the cruise'. Adding to the driver's comfort and pleasure is a sporty wheel with perforated work areas around the rim that make it exceedingly nice to use. Front and side visibility is first class, as too is visibility looking back through the rearview mirror.

Adding much to the Insignia's new-look cockpit is the totally redesigned centre console and instrument cluster. Ruthlessly simplified, there are fewer buttons than ever before. At its heart is a large 8-inch, high-res colour touchscreen fronting a cutting-edge, multifunctional, customisable infotainment system that incorporates Bluetooth-operated Internet connectivity, navigation and voice control. For the record, the SatNav is excellent one of the best, both for instructions and on-the-move views.

The system is operated by fingertip, rotary control (on the centre console), touchpad (positioned between the front seats), steering wheel controls and voice commands (enter addresses into the navigation system; play songs saved on the smartphone; make calls, etc all with your hands safely on the wheel). The system also has full smartphone compatibility to allows drivers unrivalled communications while on the move.

Synchronising your smartphone with the infotainment system is a cinch and many of your phone's contents can be displayed on the central touchscreen; and not just the usual phone and song lists, but films too. There's even a downloadable app which augments the traditional glovebox manual.

“Synchronising your
smartphone with the
infotainment system is
a cinch
many of your
s contents can
be displayed on the
touchscreen; not just the
usual phone and song
lists, but films too...
Finally, various vehicle, comfort and infotainment settings can be separately memorised for each driver based on their individual key. Editable settings include those for the power seat and door mirrors, climate control, lighting, infotainment, central locking, driving modes, comfort settings, etc.

Wide opening doors make it easy to enter (and exit) the rear cabin. Once seated, headroom is good and most people will have a nice wedge of air between the crown of their head and the roof. Foot room is good too, and there's a big, wide drop-down centre armrest to ensure that two travel very amicably indeed, cooled or warmed by their own air vents. Views forward, thanks to the wide space between the front seats, is nicely uninterrupted and the restful backrest angle makes it easy to nod off en-route to your destination always a good sign!

Lift the large, high-opening tailgate and you'll have easy access to a 540-litre boot. For those times you have a long, thin load and at the same time need to carry rear passengers there's a load-through hatch. For full loads you can fold down the 60:40-split rear seats to open up a cargo bay that will accommodate 1,530 litres all made easier by the just-above-knee-height load sill that's level with the loadbay floor.

Driving the wind-cheating Sports Tourer is a breeze. Should you really want to know, its drag coefficient is an aerodynamically slippery 0.28. Along with revisions to the car's ride and handling, the soundproofing has been improved and the Tourer serves up a quiet ride most appreciated when cruising motorways. The electronic power steering has also been reprogrammed for improved feel. The result is a compliant ride and composed handling enhanced by quicker steering with better feedback.

All neatly underpinned by Vauxhall's FlexRide adaptive damping system. This innovative chassis networks all driving dynamics systems and features electronic damper adjustment, as well as speed-dependent power steering.

The best part is that the driver can choose, at any point, any one of three driving modes: Standard is the default for driving comfort; Tour gives an even more accommodating and comfortable drive; while Sport provides a more focussed and sporty driving experience.

“Choose between Normal, Tour and Sport driving modes — Whichever mode you use, this quiet and refined Insignia estate is a fine long distance cruiser...
Whichever mode you use, this quiet and refined Insignia estate is a fine long-distance cruiser. The brakes too are smooth operating, whether you're slowing progressively to a gentle stop or have a need to urgently kill your speed.

And when you have 258lb of torque on tap from a low 1,750rpm (as you do in the direct injection 2.0-litre CDTi turbodiesel), your right foot also commands some strong pick-up and outright acceleration. A word to the wise: as on almost all of today's cars, the gearbox's top ratios tend to favour economy and motorway cruising not a problem, just don't expect to shove it in sixth and leave it there when pressing on along country roads.

Keep to the right gears and the 138bhp and muscular torque will be more than enough to get you to the church on time. And keeping to the right gear is no hassle, thanks to a short-throw gear lever and well-defined gate.

As with all Vauxhalls, the new Insignia comes with a Lifetime Warranty that gives first owners real peace of mind for as long as they own the car up to 100,000 miles. On top of that the competitively-priced Sports Tourer serves up a pleasant drive wherever you're going, whatever you're doing, and however fast or slow you're travelling.

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer Sri Nav 2.0 CDTi 140 ecoFLEX | 22,949
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-60mph: 10.9 seconds | Test Average: 51.8mpg
Power: 138bhp | Torque: 258lb ft | CO2 104g/km