Long Term Test Update: Vauxhall Insignia SRi VX-Line 170CDTi

Mike Humble:

A little while ago, I reported on here that I had been asked to run a Network Q sourced Vauxhall Insignia for Parkers.

Well almost 5000 miles have been covered under my stewardship and I’m pleased to say its pretty much been pain free…

 

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Sourced second hand from Network Q my long term test Insignia SRi VX Line has behaved itself very well. Only one trip back to the dealer required after the tyre pressure warning system started going crazy… and even that wasn’t the cars fault in the end, just a punctured rear tyre.

Right from the word go the Insignia has been pressed into action be it commuting, business and, as the insurance companies call it… domestic pleasure. Is there such a thing as motoring pleasure these days though? What with Gatso cameras, rocketing parking costs and more and more other traffic hampering your progress, its no where near as exciting and carefree as it was when I first passed my test nearly thirty years ago.

Ever since those days when Carol from BSM waved farewell in her Metro 1.3 after passing on first attempt, I’ve mainly plied my craft in the trade they call Motor. Although I may be cynical and weary of the trade at times (being an ex car and commercial vehicle salesman did this to me) I still appreciate and enjoy a decent car when it comes along. Against all odds I still enjoy driving and still refuse to use public transport – unless its a High Speed Train of course or local park and ride.

“My pre-requisite for a car is the same as its always been – a decent seat, a decent wireless, a decent heater and a top gear leggier than Alexandra Robertson. So far as the aforementioned matters, the Insignia is up to the task”

Living where I do with the M23 / M25 being the only realistic way of getting oop t`north, my chosen chariot has always tended to be a medium or larger size of car. In the past you name ’em I’ve run ’em be it Cavaliers, Rover 75s, Saabs, Sierras or Vectras. My pre-requisite for a car is the same as its always been – a decent seat, a decent wireless, a decent heater, Trojan-esque reliability and a top gear leggier than *Alexandra Robertson. So far as the aforementioned pointers matter… the Insignia has ticked the boxes so far.

* there’s one for you to google when you’ve finished digesting this!

So with almost 5000 miles passing by, how has the CDTi 170 Insignia behaved? Well I would love to perambulate and bicker on about how its been nothing but hassle – but no. The car has performed remarkably well and yes I will admit the car has a public image almost as dull akin to Filey in the drizzle… but as Austin Rover once told us all… driving is believing. The plain old fact is that it simply rocks on with life without fuss. That’s pretty damn close to motoring experience perfection to some people – myself included.

“Its not perfect by any means though, some people might find the interior a little dark and sombre (though in SRi VX Line flavour I find it adds to the stealthy sporty character) the rear leg room is at best only just average too. Other whines and wittering comes from the boot that doesn’t offer a flat load floor”

A former work colleague of mine who sells in the bus and coach trade has just ordered his third one albeit the new Grand Sport version. His current one is the same model as mine though a couple of years older – he adores them. Its not perfect by any means though, some people might find the interior a little dark and sombre (though in SRi VX Line flavour I find it adds to the stealthy sporty character) the rear leg room is at best only just average too. Other whines and wittering comes from the boot that doesn’t offer a flat load floor.

The (E1) Insignia also offers superb value for money too. Large Vauxhalls have traditionally tumbled in value once registered, with the advent of the new Grand Sport and Sports Tourer, used values are now coming to a point where only a Jim’ll fix it badge on eBay is cheaper. Its swings and roundabouts however – who pays full list price for a Vauxhall anyway? If you pay under the odds when new and you receive under the odds when you move it on… its all kind of relative isn’t it?

 

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Interior is lacking slightly in pzazz but is ergonomically good to live with. Infotainment features OnStar which still remains unique the volume sector. Fit, finish and build quality are quite good with most plastics and fabrics being nice to the touch and seemingly hard wearing. Lacks climate control and auto wipers but otherwise isn’t too badly equipped. Very good driving position only spoilt by awkwardly placed cup holders and unlined console storage areas.

 

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Personally, I think the added VX-Line kit turns a run of the mill family / rep rocket into something a little sportier. That raked roofline robs some rear headroom and those 19″ rims with uprated suspension makes urban driving a bit hopitty. Now an obsolete model but still good looking – its a used car bargain belter if a cheap fast and economical family car is your weapon of choice. These are now laughably inexpensive to buy and run.

Other significant Insignia benefits include pretty good build quality after the 2013 facelift. The tactile feel to the interior plastics far eclipse what you would find in a comparable Ford Mondeo. Give everything a good wiggle and a tug in the cabin and you just know it will run the distance. The satnav doesn’t make you nod off when trying to input data – Jaguar could learn here and the OnStar feature quite possibly makes it THE most safest car on the road in the volume sector and it just simply sips its drink like a well behaved toddler.

“Don’t be expecting a limousine ride comfort though. If all you do is just trundle around town – stay clear of the VX-Line… the suspension and ride comfort are most definitely tuned with an accent on sporting”

Its comfortable too… even though the initial feel of the seats seems to err on the firm side and there’s plenty of scope for adjustment including two-way lumbar control and electric height adjustment. Don’t be expecting a limousine ride comfort though. If all you do is just trundle around town – stay clear of the VX-Line… the suspension and ride comfort are most definitely tuned with an accent on sporting. No way near as savagely hard as say an S-Line Audi but urban pot holes, ruts and speed humps certainly make the car joggle and fidget around.

The pay off though is rather crisp and entertaining handling. Shod with limpet like 245/19 rims and Good Year Eagle F1 tyres the VX-Line grabs hold of the road in a safe yet spirited manner. Tie that in with its well up task brakes, traction control and weightier than standard steering, you’re left with a car that’s… dare I say it, quite safe yet fun to tool around in.  Having those huge wheels and tyres does have its downside that comes in the form of road noise – especially on concrete topped motorways or rough tarmac.

 

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The 2.0 170PS CDTi pulls right from its boots with effortless torque available from well under 1500rpm. It only gets rowdy when really pushed but the power is linear and relentless right around the dial. Six speed box has a decent change quality and sensible ratios including a high overdrive top making motorway cruising a joyous time. Commendable economy too – over 50mpg is easily gleaned despite some very mixed driving styles.

“The punchy 2.0CDTi engine even in sixth gear makes for borderline rapid progress when patience runs out. Chasing the horizon becomes a new game I often find myself playing and yet the car still refuses to dip below 50mpg as an average”

Hard riding aside, for most of the time its a pretty good method of getting from A to Z. Show it a long and free running motorway, slide it into sixth gear and engage the cruise and it just rolls and rolls – long distance and fast running is what this car is all about. The punchy 2.0CDTi engine even in sixth gear makes for borderline rapid progress when patience runs out. Chasing the horizon becomes a new game I often find myself playing and yet the car still refuses to dip below 50mpg as an average.

Overall running costs have been next to nothing. It did visit a local dealer just a few weeks after collecting the car on what was thought to be a faulty TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system) but that turned out to be a nail in the tyre. The local dealer put that right – again with no fuss and lashings of free coffee. Total cost for the puncture repair valve and balance – just £18. No coolant has been added nor engine oil, just the obligatory washer fluid now and again along with a recent AdBlue top up that was well under a tenner – what more can one ask for eh?

There’s more Vauxhall Insignia progress reports on the Parkers web site: CLICK HERE to view them.

What’s great about it so far?

  • VX Line styling kit turns an anonymous car into a bit of a looker
  • Really strong performance and torquey engine right across its rev range
  • Very good average fuel economy
  • Agreeable fit, finish and build quality
  • Cruises well at speed… on a smooth motorway that is!
  • People greet the car in an almost indifferent manner but get out quite impressed
  • Pin sharp cornering and decent chassis grip in the dry
  • Infotainment & OnStar continues to lead the way in this class

And what grates about it?

  • Rear space is a bit tight for taller passengers
  • Boot floor is poorly planned making long flat loads cumbersome to load
  • Tyre noise is excessive on some road surfaces
  • Parking sensor volume cannot be adjusted – tis rather LOUD
  • Fidgety and hard riding in urban environments
  • Easy to stall when trundling along at a crawl in 2nd gear
  • Instruments can reflect in the front windows at night

Reliability Issues?

  • TPMS issue requiring a main dealer visit – Nail in O/S/R tyre cost of repair – £18

Overall Average Fuel Economy?

  • 51.2mpg & three litres of AdBlue based on accumulated distance of 5000 miles

Would I Personally Own or Purchase This Model… and Why?

  • Erm… yes I think I would as they represent incredible value for money

 

 


2 thoughts on “Long Term Test Update: Vauxhall Insignia SRi VX-Line 170CDTi

  1. Canny looking model that Mike.
    Them wheels look rather dapper and that splitter type front bumper is reminiscent of a late Mercedes Benz C class, well I think so.

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