The Vauxhall Insignia replaced the Vectra and Signum models in 2008. The updated looks and a range of technology have made it very appealing since.
There are hatchback, estate and all-wheel-drive models, and with many awards now behind it - including the coveted European Car of the Year - it’s no surprise it became the best-selling mid-size car soon after its launch.
In estate or hatchback guise, the Insignia is a good car with a decent engine. The inclusion of intelligent all-wheel drive on selected cars offers both added security and improved dexterity. The turbo diesel engines, in particular, combine decent clout with efficiency.
The powerful, 158 bhp diesel variant is best, but keep an eye out for models from mid-2010 onwards which come with enhanced fuel economy and reduced emissions.
Ride and handling
Whichever variant you choose, the Insignia is generally effortless at motorway speeds. The only fly in the ointment is the steering - it is flimsy and imprecise. The Vauxhall isn’t great for sound-suppression either, with obvious wind and road noise thundering into the cabin on fast commutes.
The diesel engines are especially loud.
Inside, the Insignia incorporates many good-quality materials to form a fairly classy cabin not far off the refinement levels found in some German executive makes. The boot is huge too. If you’re a frequent commuter and you need space for luggage, the Insignia is for you.
On the downside, the centre rear seat isn’t comfortable for adults and the slanted coupe-like roofline on the hatchback hampers rear headroom for tall people.
What to know before you buy
The 2008-2013 version needs better wing mirrors. They’re just too small and narrow to give you a confident view - especially when changing lanes on motorways. The other small niggles are a steering wheel big enough to belong on a bus, controls and switches not functioning properly, and the music system giving up the ghost.
More worrying are the electrical gremlins that tend to raise their ugly heads from time to time. The most serious problems involve the car’s wiring loom, which can be exceptionally difficult to sort out.
The Vauxhall Insignia is the perfect budget alternative to showier secondhand rivals like the Audi A4 and VW Passat. The Insignia stands up well to the Ford Mondeo, too. Although the Ford provides an arguably sharper drive.
The new Insignia range was debuted at the end of 2013, so the original model from 2008 is showing its age now. Nevertheless it’s still an accomplished used motor, blending a comfortable, well kitted out cabin with a reasonable drive.
EcoFLEX badged diesels from 2012 have outstanding economy and are powerful enough. Newer models that are 12 months old can be found for up to 50% off the original list price.
Vauxhall Insignia is undoubtedly one of the best used-car bargains on sale in the United Kingdom.