While the original Vauxhall Insignia is shorter and narrower than the Mk2, both are good-sized family cars. The earlier model has a more bulbous face and chrome highlights on the grille. As it matured into the Mk2 Insignia Grand Sport, it toned down the bling, introducing a sleeker look all round, with narrower front and rear lights and slimmer ‘hips’.
Both have sloping rooflines that enhance their profiles, and higher trim levels add larger alloy wheels and even a body kit.
The earlier Insignia is available as a hatchback, estate (Sports Tourer) and saloon (although the latter is rare), while the Grand Sport comes as an estate or hatch.
It's toned down the bling, introducing a sleeker look all round.
What’s it like to drive?
Got a long commute or heading to a distant beach? Well, it won’t take you long to find a comfortable driving position in the Insignia. Both versions of the Vauxhall also handle well, with little body roll on roundabouts and reassuringly accurate steering.
The Mk1 and Mk2 Insignia offer smooth-riding on the motorway - each has more than enough grunt to help you keep up with the flow of traffic. The newer car’s improved suspension does a better job of dealing with potholes in town, especially with the FlexRide adaptive suspension fitted. The Grand Sport is also the more refined car at all speeds.
The Grand Sport is also the more refined car at all speeds.
Every Insignia has oodles of head and leg room up front - and it’s a similar story in the rear seats, particularly with the larger Grand Sport. Six footers may find their heads brushing the roof in the back because of the sloping profile. While three people will fit at a pinch, a hump in the floor means it’s best for two. Use the middle seat to hold hands or store your bag – depending on who you’re sharing the backseat with.
Most Insignias come with a screen mounted high up on the dashboard to control the sat-nav (if fitted), and entertainment system. Earlier cars use buttons or a dial, while on the Grand Sport it’s a touchscreen. Below that you’ll find buttons for the ventilation, so you don’t have to work up a sweat searching through a menu to keep things chilled.
The Insignia has a slickly designed dash, with soft-touch plastics on the items you’ll touch most often. The Grand Sport’s layout is better integrated, with fewer buttons. The older car’s controls are easy enough to figure out and bits of chrome-effect trim keep things looking interesting.
As standard, you’ll get air-con or climate control, electric door mirrors, an electronic handbrake and cruise control. The Mk2 Insignia and higher trims of both versions add goodies such as a DAB radio, a larger infotainment screen, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (Mk2 only), adaptive cruise, auto wipers and lights and electrically adjustable, heated leather seats.
There’s no shortage of storage space when you’re in the front seats, thanks to cup holders, cubbies between the seats, door bins and a large glovebox. There are even cup holders in the rear, along with door bins.
Both versions of the Insignia have decent boots, although if outright space is important the Mk1 car offers slightly more. The hatchback will hold around 500 litres (enough room for child buggies and golf bags) while the Sports Tourer estate takes another 60 litres or so.
Naturally, folding the rear seats flat frees up massive amounts of room for a day of furniture shopping, although the Skoda Superb’s boot is even bigger.
Running costs and reliability
Diesel-engine Insignias are more common, and the 1.6-litre unit (badged as ecoFLEX or ecoTec) will return up to 74.3mpg on average. Your best bet if you’re hitting the road regularly and want to watch the pennies. There’s also a 2.0-litre ‘Turbo D’ diesel that’ll average up to 54.3mpg officially. The most powerful diesel, a twin-turbo engine, comes with four-wheel drive and an auto gearbox, for a predictably poorer 39.8mpg.
The rarer petrol engines include 1.5-litre and 2.0 units, with average economy of up to 50.4mpg.
What cinch loves
The Insignia is a lot of family car for your money as a used buy, especially as an estate car. We love its long-distance cruising ability, which is ideal when you need to transport the family and their luggage from one end of the country to the other in complete comfort, and its practical interior should keep everyone happy.
A maximum 5-star rating from crash test experts Euro NCAP boosts the appeal for families, as do the 3 Isofix mounting points that are fitted to some models’ rear seats and lane departure warning that’s fitted to all Mk2 Insignias.