Vauxhall Insignia

Sports Tourer -

First Drive

Vauxhall Insignia ST, front action 2
Vauxhall Insignia ST, front action
Vauxhall Insignia ST, side action
Vauxhall Insignia ST, rear action
Vauxhall Insignia ST, dashboard
Vauxhall Insignia ST, boot
Vauxhall Insignia ST, wheel
Vauxhall Insignia ST, rear seats
Vauxhall Insignia ST, with aircraft
Vauxhall Insignia ST, full front static
Vauxhall Insignia ST, full rear static
Vauxhall Insignia ST, side static

WHEN it comes to clinching the deal Vauxhall customers wants to see something for their money - and right there in the showroom works best.

So you'll quite likely be popped into the driver's seat of a new Insignia Sports Tourer and be asked to look straight ahead where, if the car has been specced right, you'll feel like a fighter pilot.

For a £290 option brings a head up display that pops speed and sat nav directions directly on to the windscreen, in your sightline and saving a distracting glance downward. Audi charges £900 for the same thing, by the way.

Wander round the rear of this new load lugger from Luton and you may find a biggish cardboard box in the boot, its 135 litres capacity being the precise increase in cargo capacity over the old Sport Tourer.

It's the sort of obvious, practical demonstration of a car's capabilities that, we're told by the men who know at Vauxhall, that makes people happy to sign on the dotted line.

Very sensible too; you may admire the looks of the new largest estate in the Vauxhall range - even spot its modest growth over the one before - but life with a car that will have to earn its living quickly boils down to practicalities.

The outgoing model wasn't quite practical enough, apparently. Too tight for legroom in the back, for starters. The new one stretches the distance between front and rear wheels to the benefit of rear seat passengers.

They now enjoy enough room for two six-footers to sit comfortably in tandem. Not quite the limo-like stretch of a Skoda Superb, though, which is actually shorter than the new Insignia but in a class of its own in space terms.

The Skoda has the Vauxhall licked on boot room too and so does the VW Passat estate but a perhaps more direct competitor, Ford's Mondeo, is smaller in the luggage bay than the Insignia with back seat up or down.

Whatever the figures show you won't declare the new Vauxhall lacking in stowage space, and worth the £1,500 lift over the Grand Sport hatchback sibling. The great majority will be heading for life as a company car and there's surely ample room for all the paraphernalia that goes with it.

And at weekends when the family piles on board, the Sports Tourer will swallow all the football kit for the Second XI and still have space for pizzas on the way home.

Prices start at £18,685 for a Design version with a new 1.5-litre 140 horsepower petrol engine. Not many will go for the entry level trim but Vauxhall thinks the current swing against diesel (warranted or not) might make this petrol model surprisingly popular.

For another £795 you move up to a Design Nav spec, perhaps essential for anyone who needs to know precisely how far away the next business meeting is and when they're going to get there.

You can have a car without sat nav in the next grade up - SRi - but you wonder how many will, with prices from £21,580 for a map enabled (petrol) version.

An SRi 1.6-litre 136 horsepower diesel (£23,240) tried over a mixed route showed 54mpg at the end in comparison to the 40mpg of the petrol car, which felt less lively too.

Both rode well and felt a mostly classy place to while away hours on the road. There are plenty of cubbies and stowage places and a crisp, business-like feel to the way dials are drawn and switches placed.

As befits a car that must appeal to a multitude of company pecking orders, there are plenty of engines to choose from, starting with two versions of the new 1.5 petrol (140 and 165ps) and five diesels in either 1.6 or 2.0 litres capacity and power outputs from 110 to 170ps.

A 2.0-litre petrol with 260 horsepower, automatic gears and all-wheel drive is waiting in the wings but its 199g/km and eye-watering £1,200 first year's road tax are likely to keep it a rare sight.

The 112g/km and £160 tax of the cleanest diesel will be a bigger pull in a market where practicalities still count.

Standard spec, or the options list, will provide Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone integration, heated seats for outer rear passengers, powerful LED lights and even the ability to book a hotel by speaking to a real human as you drive along, via Vauxhall's OnStar service.

And your sat nav will take you straight there, of course.

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