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Six-speed manual, Six- and eight-speed autos
Vauxhall has high hopes for its new Insignia Sports Tourer. It even expects rivals of the car to include the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4 after its step up towards more premium quality.
Despite the name, though, it's no sports car. The first thing that strikes you, in fact, is how huge it is. At almost 5m, the car is 125mm longer than a Skoda Superb estate, making it the biggest Insignia ever. A focus on practicality is an intentional one for the Insignia as this was where the previous model fell short. While the 560-litre boot is far bigger than the Mondeo at 500 litres, it is trumped by the Superb at 660 litres. The extended wheelbase means that passengers have 32mm more room at hip height, 25mm more shoulder and knee room, and 8mm more headroom.
But inside the cabin is where the difference in quality shows. We drove the Insignia Sri NAV trim, which features a host of soft-touch plastics, as well as lots of standard kit including a touchscreen infotainment system compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Look a bit closer, though, and there are still some hard plastics, even right at the top of the range, meaning that the more upmarket Skoda Superb may be a better bet at a similar price. Most of the added luxury in our test Insignia also comes at a cost including the undeniably comfortable leather sports seats, which were £1,155 extra. Even without the additional cost, the interior comfort was still spot on and the seats were soft enough for a long journey.
Our test car also featured extras and much of this is worth the extra pocket money including a winter pack, LED matrix headlights, front and rear parking distance sensors, a head-up display, and driver assistance pack to name a few. On such a low-cost vehicle, though, these extras are to be expected if you want luxury that's even close to the potential of BMW or Audi rivals.
Vauxhall has focussed on ensuring that the car is easy to drive on motorways. It handles with poise and is agile enough, while the steering proves well judged. The engine line-up mirrors the hatchback range, with two 1.5-litre turbo petrol engines, 1.6- and 2.0-litre diesels in various guises, and a flagship 2.0-litre petrol 4x4 with 257hp. The six-speed manual gearbox that we drove is standard and there is also the option of an eight-speed automatic.
The manual is a marked improvement over the outgoing Insignia, and opting for the automatic adds around 20g/km of CO2 plus £1,730 to the price tag ? not worth the compromise in our book.
This 1.6-litre diesel engine, available to buy at a later date, is likely to be a popular option for many fleets due to its low 119g/km CO2 figure, and with 136hp there's enough power to give the car a relatively brisk performance.
Even in lower-spec form, the latest Insignia is a better place to be than the old one. Is it a modern masterpiece that showcases the latest that technology has to offer? Unfortunately not. Is it up there with the 3 Series and A4? Definitely not. But in terms of design and drive quality, the Insignia competes well with its actual rivals.
Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer SRi Nav 1.6Tdi 136PS Turbo D ecoTEC