Review and road test of the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer (2017 - 2020)
FAMILY QUESTIONS OF SPORT
By Jonathan Crouch
In second generation form, the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, sold between 2017 and 2020, gained a much more up-market demeanour, with greater class, refinement and sophistication. Handling was more agile too, thanks in large part to the considerable weight reductions this MK2 model could offer, savings made all the more impressive bearing in mind how much bigger this car became than its predecessor. Add in extremely competitive pricing and there are all the ingredients for an attractive used car market family pick.
Models Covered: (5-door Estate) 1.5, 1.6 petrol / 2.0 CDTi diesel [Design, SRi, Elite, GSi, Country Tourer])
Even if you'd written the estate car off as an out-moded product, it might still be worth giving the modern take on the genre another chance. If so, there are few better places to start than Vauxhall's second generation Insignia Sports Tourer, sold between 2017 and 2020. There's a strong engine range, smart styling and even the promise of an SUV-inspired fashionable 4WD 'Country Tourer' variant at the top of the line-up.
Many predicted that MPVs and SUVs would be the death of the estate car. There's no doubt that they dragged it into an alleyway and roughed it up a bit, but they failed to finish the job and the classic station wagon was still fighting its corner as the 21st century's second decade came to a close. With a smaller section of the market to compete over, the top estate products got their acts together in the 2017-2020 period. They became more keenly differentiated from the saloons and hatchbacks that spawned them, with sleeker styling and more innovative and practical load areas.
As was the case here. An enormous investment was poured into making this second generation Insignia Sports Tourer almost unrecognisably better than its predecessor. Think of virtually any feature you might want in a premium model from this period and the chances are that this Vauxhall offers it with classy packaging at a vast list price saving. Plus a longer wheelbase in this MK2 model meant a substantially greater seats-down carriage capacity and a significant amount more space for rear seat occupants than this car's predecessor could offer. And this car claimed class-leading levels of media connectivity. It wasn't enough to save it though. When the time came for the second generation Insignia to be updated in 2020, this estate variant was dropped from the range.
What You Get
You might not previously have perceived the idea of running a mid-sized Vauxhall estate car as being in any way aspirational. Perhaps you need to think again. This MK2 estate Insignia might have campaigned in much the same market segment as its predecessor, but it moved up a class in almost any way you care to name, most particularly in style and size. But this is an estate car and you're going to want to know just how practical it's going to be for your family needs. The tailgate rises to reveal 560-litres of carriage space. If you want to carry longer items but still need to take rear seat passengers, then the provided 40:20:40 split-rear bench will be a boon, allowing you to easily push through lengthier things like skis. Dropping the rear bench can be done easily using switches on either side of the cargo area side wall, a process that frees up 1,665-litres of fresh air.
Up front, there's an enormous improvement over what was served up by the previous Insignia. Fit and finish is almost a match for the premium brands from this period and in the instrument binnacle, there's a smart and configurable centre colour screen that's either 4.2-inches or 8-inches in size, depending on trim. Anything that can't tell you will almost certainly be found on the centre-dash Intellilink infotainment monitor, On an Insignia model that features Navigation, this monitor is 8-inches in size and as you'd expect, is compatible with the 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' 'phone connectivity systems, activated via a 'Projection' screen option. More familiar infotainment inclusions run to the usual Bluetooth, DAB stereo and informational features.
Once inside at the rear, you really notice the benefits of this second generation model's extra 92mm of wheelbase. As you'd expect from a car that's now nearly 5-metres in length (so nearly as long as an enormous Audi Q7 SUV), there's plenty of room for one really tall adult to sit behind another.
What to Look For
The Insignia Sports Tourer seems to have a reasonable quality record in this MK2 form, but we did come across complaints of cabin rattles in the interior. One owner found that the door locks failed - and he experienced an ECU wiring loom fault that caused his car to go into limp home mode. It also had a diesel particulate filter fault. As is always the case with mainstream brand estate models, you'll want to keep a look out for thrashed company hacks or ex-hire fleet vehicles. Ensure that the car has been serviced on the button and that the mileage on the service record stamp tallies with what the odometer says. It's also worth checking the car for accident damage, as many cars will be de-fleeted early if they've had a prang and have been repaired. Ask the seller explicitly if the car has had accident damage and inspect the usual points for overspray and kinks in the under-bonnet flitch plates. The engines tend to be tough units with no serious problems to report.
(approx based on a 2017 Insignia Sports Tourer 2.0 Turbo D excl. VAT) Using the volume 2.0-litre diesel model as an example, expect to pay around £11-£18 for an oil filter, around £27 for a pollen filter and around £6-£14 for a wiper blade. Front brake discs are around £102 for a set. A tail lamp costs in the £163 bracket. A water pump is in the £82 bracket.
On the Road
On the move, this second generation Insignia Sports Tourer feels like the bigger car it became in MK2 form, the suspension floating you over broken surfaces that would have troubled and impeded the previous model. Importantly, this second generation model is 200kg lighter than its predecessor and that really shows when cornering at speed, where there's less body roll than before and generally, a much higher level of agility. As for engines, well most buyers will continue to want a diesel, with the majority of sales likely to go to the volume 1.6-litre Turbo D unit, offered with either 110 or 136PS. If you trade up to the 170PS 2.0-litre diesel, efficiency drops off markedly, though there's the compensation of 400Nm of pulling power, a figure that will be improved further if you go for the 210PS BiTurbo variant. Engine-wise, you'll find much more that's really cutting edge if you turn your attention to petrol power, with both units on offer being completely new to Vauxhall's range back in 2017. Small capacity turbocharged engines that use unleaded are very much in vogue at present and the 1.5-litre unit supplied here suited that trend, offered with either 140 or 165PS.
Further up the range sits a potent 260PS 2.0-litre petrol Turbo model that showcases both of what were arguably the two most significant engineering developments introduced with this second generation Insignia. One is the super-slick 8-speed auto gearbox that was optional on lesser models. The other is a sophisticated intelligent all-wheel drive system that uses a rear torque vectoring system for greater cornering traction and sharper turn-in. You might even be able to make use of it off road on light off road tracks if you opt for the Country Tourer variant, which offers an extra 20mm of ride height. Of course, 4WD might be nice to have but it isn't really relevant for typical buyers of this model, so we'll finish by summarising the key things you need to know. This Insignia Sports Tourer easily matches class-leading Passat and Mondeo Estate models from this era in terms of refinement and drive dynamics. And it's got pretty much all the technical sophistication you'd get from a German premium brand station wagon model in this segment from this era too. As a result, you'd not only like one of these but you might even conceivably want one.
The estate car's task has never been a tougher one, with the sector of the market it once had to itself now swarming with SUV and MPV rivals. The solution, as employed by Vauxhall with this second generation Insignia Sports Tourer, is to concentrate on sleek styling, a polished driving experience and a premium feel. As a result, you might well find this car to be a much more desirable product than you expected it would be. The issue is though, whether enough people will desire it over the numerous alternatives available to the family motorist these days on the used market looking for a spacious five-door model from the 2017-2029 period.
It helps that buyers get a spacious cockpit and one of the largest rear cabins in the segment from this period. Matched with standards of fit, finish and infotainment that are a vast improvement over what was served up by the previous generation model. True, you have to like road going dynamics geared more towards comfort than handling entertainment. And the efficiency figures delivered by the 2.0-litre diesel engines many will want lag a little behind class leaders. Otherwise though, there's very little not to like. In summary, what's on offer here a genuine all-rounder that's comfortable and well connected, has a decent carrying capacity and even delivers looks that can turn heads. It should make a sound choice.
Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer (2017 - 2020) review by Jonathan Crouch