‘Sports Tourer’…ah, yes, that means estate car, doesn’t it? Well, it used to!
Tom Scanlan weighs up the pros and cons of diesel in the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer
Never mind, they’re all at it, glamorising the mundane, and have been for many years now. So, what about Vauxhall’s latest?
As a matter of fact, the all-new 2017 car is rather good. Vauxhall tells us that the new one is particularly capacious. It’s longer and lower than the outgoing version, but crafty design tricks the eye because its sleek appearance belies the fact that there is still enough headroom for the average adult (two will fit comfortably in the back; a third adult’s feet would be challenged by the transmission tunnel).
A range of new technology becomes available, including, for the first time, although only at the top of the range, a head-up display (HUD). This display offers a fair amount of varying information. As I was driving along, I noticed a chap walking along the pavement, shirtless, as it happens, on one of those recent very hot days. The HUD also spotted him and warned me with a visual and audible alarm. Somewhat over-sensitive. Pedestrian recognition, yes, but not to that extent, I’d suggest.
The Sports Tourer has Rear LED lights to improve the rearward vision when manoeuvering in the dark. The new Matrix LED headlamps light up the road up to 400 meters ahead. Along with this there is now a heated windshield. Sun roofs are back again; inductive charging is in; options include an eight-speed auto, that’s standard on the Elite 260 PS petrol and 210 PS diesel.
More sophisticated stuff includes the GKN Twister 4wd transmission. This off-the-shelf system can be tuned to a manufacturer’s requirements. Vauxhall wants theirs to be appropriate for their all-round family car to be able to manage your average, fairly gentle, off-road challenge, like getting out of a muddy field.
City braking that detects danger and can take over the braking in extremis is standard on all the versions.
I tried two of the new cars, one diesel, and, to compare refinement, one petrol.
As it happens, Vauxhall tells us that petrol-powered versions will account for only ten percent of all sales. I’m not surprised: the diesel I tried was a 1.6-litre manual car. It has 110 PS, reaches 62 mph in 10.9 seconds, emission of 112 g/km and claims an official combined cycle fuel return of 75.7 mpg.
This one proved to be a very impressive performer. The engine was super-smooth. Even when using engine braking to reduce speed on hill descents, there was no sudden roughness. The gearbox, a six-speeder, was a delight. I did once actually glance at the rev-counter to confirm that I was actually driving a diesel-engined car….yes, the red line was down at 5000 rpm.
Next up was the 1.5-litre (1490 cc, to be precise) petrol engine with 55PS more and a reasonable amount of torque – 250 Nm on tap from 2000-4500 rpm. Very pleasant and refined, quiet in the cabin, too. But not noticeably more so than the diesel. And when it comes to fuel consumption, the combined figure is 46.3, which is nearly thirty mpg worse. It may accelerate faster off the mark, sixty-two mph in 8.6 seconds, but that’s the limit of its superiority. Petrol emissions are 139 g/km.
On cross-country routes, my diesel indicated 59.1 mpg and the petrol managed an indicated 34.8.
Both cars were very comfortable to ride in and offered attractive trim and upholstery and quality workmanship, as far as I could tell.
The rear seats were especially easy to fold down, 60/40 if required and gave a useful extended flat luggage area in an already generous boot.
Car paints these days are getting to be expensive unless you’re happy with a couple of the base versions offered. But, I have to admit, there really are some fabulous new colours out there, with subtly sparkling effects, which catch the light really beautifully. The new test cars included ‘Coconut’, a colour that merely to call ‘brown’ would be unfair, and ‘Dark Moon Blue’, conjuring up visions of a deeply romantic idyll. Years ago, it would have perhaps just been Navy blue, but it is almost black and, again, with that deep, lustrous sparkle.
Very nice, these Insignia Sports Tourers, and, if around £21,000 for the cars tested (not including options), sounds OK, and actually rather cheap for what you get, then explore the range upwards, for more power, sophistication, connectivity and the other ‘must-haves’ in today’s marketplace.
Car reviewed: Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer Design Nav 1.6 – Base Price On the road £20,940, price as tested £23,525 0-60mph 10.9 secs Top speed 127 mph limited Fuel Economy combined 65.7mpg CO2 emissions 112g/km Engine 1598cc Turbo D ecoTEC Max Power 110PS@3500rpm Torque 300Nm@1750rpm Transmission 6-speed manual
Spacious and comfortable
Technology and safety systems
Impressive diesel with low emissions and economy
Petrol model can be thirsty
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