Vauxhall Insignia Ecoflex: Test Drive Review
16 June 2009
Author: Tristan Young
Vauxhall Insignia Ecoflex
|Category:|| Upper medium|
|P11D price:|| £22,725|
|Key rival:|| Toyota Avensis|
Vauxhall has joined the green-rush with the introduction of the Insignia Ecoflex, but given it a twist over rivals' fuel-miser models by keeping power up.
Rather than opting for a low-powered and eco-max'd offering, the Vauxhall boffins have based their most efficient Insignia on the highest powered diesel, the 160PS 2.0 CDTI.
It's a bold move as, until now, the only other car makers to pull this trick have been the prestige brands with the likes of the BMW 318d, Audi A4 2.0 TDI and Mercedes C220 CDI.
To achieve the 18g/km cut to 136g/km the Insignia Ecoflex has had its suspension lowered by 10mm to help aerodynamics, an under-body tray fitted for the same reason, longer gearing, some tweaks to the engine management computer and low-rolling resistance tyres fitted.
There's no downside to the 0-60mph time of 8.9seconds over the regular car so the only penalty is a price hike of £470 over the standard car and the implications on benefit-in-kind taxation.
Interestingly, the monetary-burden for a 20% tax payer is exactly the same over a 36 month contract for both the Ecoflex and the regular (at least it is on the SE five-door hatch we tested). Which means you'll only gain in tax as a driver if you're on a four-year rotation.
While the CO2 may only have dropped three bands the better fuel economy is much better reason to buy the Ecoflex model. This improved from 48.7mpg to 54.7mpg, which means a saving of more than £600 on fuel (optimistically assuming diesel's £1 a litre).
If you think there's bound to be a pay-off in the driving experience for the kind of engineers' magic that keeps 0-60 the same but improves CO2 and mpg, you'd be wrong. The engine pulls happily at low revs with no cabin vibration or resonance and at 70mph the car's sitting at a lowly 1600rpm, so the official fuel figure is easily achievable.
The trouble comes when you look at the competition. Although high-volume selling rivals have all opted to cut power in the bid to reduce CO2, they do have much better mpg figures and in the eco-game, that's what it's all about so it gets you wondering why Vauxhall didn't go down this route, after all the Ecoflex is an eco-car before it's a performance car.
And if you do want the combination of low-CO2 and good performance then the prestige brands cover this in a more impressive way.
The answer to this may be to wait for the 130PS even more-Ecoflex Insignia due out in the not to distant future, according to BusinessCar's sources.
|Vauxhall Insignia SE CDTI 160 Ecoflex|
|Model price range||£17,130-£31,175|
|CO2 (tax) ||136g/km (18%)|
|BIK 20/40% per month||£68/£136|
|Boot space (min/max)||530/1470 litres|
|On sale ||now|
|Verdict||Good first try, |
but why isn’t it
even more eco?