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Vauxhall Insignia 1.4T: Test Drive Review

Date: 08 September 2011   |   Author: David Motton

Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £23,535
Key rival: Ford Mondeo

The Vauxhall Insignia's 1.8-litre engine has long been off the pace for economy and emissions. Now businesses looking for efficient petrol power can choose the new 1.4-litre Turbo instead.

On paper - and on the road - it's a much better engine than the 1.8, which will continue to be sold alongside the new 1.4 Turbo. While the 1.8 achieves just 37.2mpg on the combined fuel economy cycle, the 1.4T promises 49.6mpg. That's the kind of economy that would have been competitive for a 2.0-litre diesel just a few years ago.

Although not badged Ecoflex in the UK, the 1.4 Turbo achieves this economy by employing the same technologies as the greenest diesel Insignias. That means low rolling-resistance tyres, improved under-body aerodynamics, high gearing, and a stop/start system (new for 2012 model year Insignias).

These measures help lower carbon dioxide emissions from the 1.8's 179g/km to 134g/km (139g/km for the Sports Tourer), putting the 1.4 Turbo in a 16% tax bracket. Despite the car's rather stiff list price, higher rate tax payers will have a BIK bill of just £126 a month for the SRi model. That's a full £50 less than if running a Ford Mondeo 2.0i Titanium, with its old-tech engine. It's £7 less than the bill for a Peugeot 508 1.6 THP SR.

The 1.4 Turbo should keep drivers happy as well as saving them money. Although peak power is identical to the 1.8 (140hp), peak torque is up to 200Nm, a 14% improvement. It might not have the punch of a good diesel but the 1.4T pulls cleanly from low revs, building power progressively. It's a refined engine, too, with a pleasant but subdued engine note that's hardly audible at a steady 70mph.

Although the new engine headlines changes for the 2012 model year, the range benefits from a number of other tweaks, including electric power steering for Insignias with a manual gearbox. The old hydraulic steering felt unresponsive either side of straight ahead. The electric system feels more sensitive. Feedback from the road is limited, but there's a pleasing level of precision. What's more, electric power assistance contributes to improved economy and emissions, since there's no longer an energy-sapping hydraulic pump.

Along with the introduction of stop/start technology to the Insignia, electric power steering has made the diesel Ecoflex models more efficient than before. The 160hp 2.0-litre Ecoflex now emits just 115g/km and achieves 65.7mpg. The 130hp version emits 116g/km and returns 64.2mpg.

The model year changes don't address the Insignia's cramped rear seats or fussy ride when fitted with large alloy wheels. However, the 1.4T means the Insignia finally has a petrol version to appeal to the business user.

Vauxhall Insignia 1.4 T SRi 5dr
P11D price£23,535
Model price range£17,970-£34,350
Fuel consumption49.6mpg
CO2 (tax) 134g/km (16%)
BIK 20/40% per month£63/£126
Service intervalOne year/20,000mls
Insurance (1-50)group 16
WarrantyUnlimited yrs/100,000mls
Boot space (min/max)500/1015 litres
Engine size/power1364cc/140hp
Top speed/0-60mph127mph/10.1secs
On sale 23 September
VerdictA big improvement
over the 1.8 petrol


A big improvement over the 1.8 petrol