2015 Vauxhall Insignia SRi Nav 2.0 Eco Flex 140 bhp from UK and Ireland
The acid test for any car is how well it does what we ask it to do. Thus, success or disappointment depends upon how much research the potential buyer is prepared to engage in before splashing the cash. And circumstances can often change over an extended period of ownership.
Back in 2015, my wife and I realised we needed a long-distance cruiser that would eat the miles and not cost the Earth in the process. We already had a Vauxhall Astra 2-litre CDTi diesel that had performed exceptionally well, but we needed a bit more space, so, having established trust in the brand, it wasn’t unnatural to check out the Vauxhall range, and the revamped Insignia SRi Nav 2-litre Eco Flex 140 BHP diesel with cruise control and start/stop seemed to tick all the boxes.
Regrettably, a friendly and highly recommended salesman - the one who sold us the Astra in 2012 - had left the local Vauxhall franchise, and evidently, so did the goodwill towards us despite being customers of known integrity. Other Vauxhall dealerships were indifferent and didn’t seem to want to sell new cars, so we had no alternative but to go further afield for a test drive. One brief phone call to a big Vauxhall franchise in Bedford and they organised a test drive for the very next day, and in the model we were interested in, not some obscure edition totally unsuitable for the purposes of evaluation. Oh, how others could learn from them! Even the UK Sales Director of Vauxhall Motors no less, became involved in the saga, but that’s another story entirely.
The test drive:
Unsurprisingly, the car felt so right and very familiar. Whilst the 140 horses isn’t a huge amount by modern standards, and 25 BHP down on the Astra, it did promise a good balance between performance and economy. The 0-62 figure of 10.5 seconds might not sound all that impressive, but that only told part of the story. Once rolling, she gave a good account of herself, particularly at higher speeds where others were left flagging, thanks to the Insignia’s well thought out gear ratios. And it had that all-important cavernous boot, lots of space in the front and rear to stretch one's legs, and the front sports seats are very comfortable.
It handled well too. Some say the Insignia is a barge, but I’ve driven barges, and this ain’t one of them. In fact, it was surprisingly agile for a big car and sticks to the road well. There was an inevitable trade-off with the sports suspension and ride quality (those Insignias with standard suspension being more pliant), but the SRi wasn’t hugely different to the rest of the models in the range, and she has poise. She remained quite ‘flat’ and stable on a bend with very little body roll. The ride wasn’t the smoothest around town with some jolts being transmitted through the car. However, at speed it’s a different story and everything smooths out. I imagine the Insignia would do 100 mph quite comfortably on a German autobahn with very little driver fatigue.
The voice-activated Sat-Nav seemed a welcome asset at first (although we became dissatisfied with it later with greater familiarity, as it was found to be fiddly and temperamental).
So, having settled upon the Insignia, we looked around at the various colours on offer, and although this is very subjective and down to personal taste, we found nothing else quite suited the car more than gleaming Sovereign Silver with 18 inch 5 twin-blade alloy wheels. That complimented the car’s Coupé looks very well indeed, and gave it a formidable classy presence that commanded and seemed to get respect from other motorists.
Stated economy versus true economy:
At the time, Vauxhall claimed an extra-urban figure of 88 miles per gallon, 76 MPG combined, and 62 MPG around town. We didn’t really take those numbers seriously, but we thought if we could get just 60 MPG on a run, it would be quite sufficient. The test car seemed to achieve that without even trying, which came as a surprise.
One never really knows a car until they’ve had it for a while, but the Insignia proved its suitability very early on, yet that figure of 88 MPG continually intrigued us and we wondered if we might indeed get anywhere near it. After the running-in period when everything had loosened up, we chose a quiet time of day and tootled along a section of fairly level dual carriageway at a steady 50 miles per hour for about twenty miles on cruise control, but swapping between 5th and 6th gear where appropriate. We managed to get the indicated fuel consumption up to 82 miles per gallon and it was still rising, so make of that what you will!
Clear motorways at 65 miles per hour should see close to a repeatable 70 MPG. Trunk roads slightly less, and around town, perhaps 48 MPG if traffic is relatively free-flowing. Heavy traffic can spoil all that, but the start/stop system helps prevent a disaster.
I enjoyed driving the Insignia SRi throughout. The road-holding with the original Continental tyres is prodigious. A person would have to do something very silly to lose it on a bend, especially in dry weather. Yet lose it I did on one occasion at a moderate speed thanks to an inexperienced tyre fitter fitting a Goodyear tyre with an asymmetric tread pattern with the inside facing outwards. Fortunately, I was able to regain control. Hardly the car’s fault, but my advice is stay with the original equipment.
In our experience, we needed to be on top of the diesel particulate filter (DPF) all the time to get the best fuel returns. I would regularly reset the average MPG and if it seemed to struggle to get above 50, I would find a fast dual carriageway, drop the car down to 4th gear, engage cruise control, and keep the rev counter needle well above 2,000 RPM for about 15 minutes until I saw the figures start to climb again. Tiresome, but that allowed us to get an average of 52 MPG over the entire period of ownership.
The Insignia had covered just over 40,000 miles from new in three years up to August 2018 when we parted with it, during which time it had two scheduled services, two new front tyres, and two wiper blades - and that was it. No recalls, no warranty repairs, no bits falling off it, and no failing to start first time even in the coldest weather. The reliability was 100%. Somebody, somewhere, is going to get an extremely good car. It was also featured in Vauxhall’s magazine when new.
So, if the 2015 Insignia was so good, why not get the new version? The answer to that is a change in personal circumstances such that ride quality has assumed a far greater significance, and having found another car from a different manufacturer that does a better job. Oh, and it has 190 BHP, 4-wheel drive, almost as much space, and does more to the gallon. More of that later, and be prepared for a revelation!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 25th September, 2018
25th Sep 2018, 19:04
Well written review. The Insignia is a good car overall. Huge improvement on the Vectra. I know some people that run a few of these as taxis since 2009 - the main issue as you mentioned is keeping that DPF in good condition - a major concern on all modern diesels, things can get very expensive if it goes wrong.
As for the fuel consumption, I find if you drive carefully, keep on top of tyre pressures and servicing, you get the average figure most of the time.