First Drive

First Drive: Vauxhall Insignia

The story: Vauxhall’s flagship model gets a mid-life refresh with mild styling tweaks and efficient new engines.
Category:Upper medium
Key rival:Ford Mondeo
On sale:Now

Vauxhall’s flagship model has reached middle age, with the Insignia hatchback getting an all-new range of petrol and diesel engines as well as improved technology and revised looks.

The biggest change is under the bonnet where a pair of petrol and pair of diesel engines are headlined by the new 1.5-litre 122hp diesel, as seen already in the lower-medium Astra.

Both this engine and its 2.0-litre 174hp sibling have an emissions figure of just 121g/km across all trim levels, rising by 9-10g/km for the eight-speed automatic.

There is also a pair of 2.0-litre petrol engines, which generate either 200hp or 230hp. The former is offered only in SRi VX-Line Nav trim, and the latter resides in the range-topping 4×4 performance model badged GSi. Both come with a new nine-speed automatic gearbox, with emissions of 171g/km and 181g/km respectively ruling hem out as a sensible company car choice versus the very efficient diesels. That’s despite the 2.0-litre being the first Insignia to get cylinder-deactivation tech that improves efficiency when cruising on light throttle. Vauxhall also claims class-leading shift quality from the new nine-speed automatic transmission.

First Drive- February 2021- Vauxhall Insignia - Image 5The sleek Insignia has been given a mild styling revamp, with new headlamps and a wider grille, but it’s always been a good-looking, low-slung five-door, and nothing here changes that.

The 1.5-litre diesel isn’t exactly overpowered, and can sometimes labour, requiring the driver to drop a gear for acceleration more often than more powerful models will require. It’s also not the most refined, making its use of diesel obvious from start-up.

Inside, the seven-inch infotainment touchscreen is also a bit small compared to some rivals. Still, the seats are comfortable and there’s decent space in both the back-seat area and the boot which offers 490 litres of space.

New tech includes a rear camera that improves visibility, while heated rear outer seats and steering wheel are standard from the penultimate of five trim levels, called Ultimate Nav. Cars from the middle SRi VX-Line spec get the clever IntelliLux Pixel headlights.

paul barker

The verdict

The efficiency figures for the revised Insignia are excellent, although the 1.5 diesel takes a bit of stirring to get going. But the flagship Vauxhall model still looks good, and is well specced.