Vauxhall Insignia (2008-2017) Review logo

Vauxhall Insignia (2008-2017) Review

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1/10

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1 / 10

heycar review

      Launch year
      2008
      Body type
      Large family car
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“A bargain that means business”

Best bits

  • Great value for money and lots around
  • Hard-wearing and practical interior
  • Excellent seats

Not so great

  • Lacks head-turning appeal
  • Limited rear headroom
  • Humdrum image

Read by

Vauxhall Insignia Front Side View

Overall verdict

Vauxhall Insignia Front Interior

On the inside

Vauxhall Insignia Front Side View

Driving

Vauxhall Insignia Rear Side View

How much does it cost to run

Vauxhall Insignia Front Side View

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Vauxhall Insignia isn’t a particularly exciting choice, and you might wish for an Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series instead. But you’ll be paying a premium for them. Why not stick with the Insignia and enjoy a car that’s just as able, even more spacious and much better equipped?"

Vauxhall Insignia Front Side View

The Insignia is Vauxhall’s largest passenger car, and part of a long-running model line that was formerly called Vectra and, before that, Cavalier. 


This type of car used to be a best-seller in the UK, but things have changed, and volumes are now a fraction of what they were. Blame the ascendancy of the SUV, but also the (literal) growth of cars such as the Vauxhall Astra: many find that model large enough and don’t need the size of the Insignia. And those who do will probably go for a Vauxhall Grandland X...


This is a car that sells to one core market: the company car sector. Sales to people spending their own money, rather than that of their company, are negligible. This has a knock-on effect on how the range is configured: mainly diesel, focused on low emissions and high MPG, with a range of trims that are about packing in the essential extras – rather than fripperies that don’t add value.


It’s a businesslike business car, if you will. There’s no badge envy with this 2008-on Insignia, but those who were given one by their company will have discovered a very comfortable and practical place to spend the next three years and 90,000 miles of their working life.


These qualities transfer to the used car sector, too. You’ll certainly pay far less for an Insignia than a same-age BMW or Audi, and you are likely get a better haul of gadgets as standard. In some ways, it’s a smarter second-hand buy than a more premium alternative, because of what you get for your money. Who needs to show off to the neighbours, anyway?


This generation of Insignia actually has plenty of premium credentials of its own. It offers a very grown-up drive, with a real feeling of integrity. It’s a very relaxing long-distance cruiser, with a decent ride, brilliant seats and effortless engines. It was built to allow people to cover miles in comfort when new, and those qualities still shine through in second-hand examples.


The generous standard kit is welcome, and later models also feature a surprisingly contemporary infotainment system, which offers decent functionality despite the fast pace of electronic evolution. There are some powerful diesel engines within the range too – not to mention a fiery VXR V6 twin-turbo range-topper. It’s a real rarity, but worth hunting out for people who want bargain-priced Audi RS4 alternative.


The Insignia isn’t quite perfect at carrying out its core role in life. While the front seats are enormous, rear-seat space is compromised by a plunging roofline that restricts headroom. The boot is a good size, though, and the massive tailgate opens it up for all the world to see. Loading even the most cumbersome luggage into an Insignia shouldn’t be too tricky.


We rate the Vauxhall Insignia because it’s a well-built and able large car, offering plenty that growing families will find welcoming. As prices keep on edging closer to bargain basement level, now’s your time to grab one of the best before they start disappearing.


If you're looking for the newer version, you need our Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport (2017-) review.


Is the Vauxhall Insignia right for you?

Lots of family car buyers think they need an SUV, but actually they’d be better off saving a fortune and buying a second-hand Vauxhall Insignia instead. It’s particularly competitive in terms of boot space, which is both larger and more practical than many SUVs, even if their rear seats might offer more comfort.


Those after a smart buy will think it worth considering, too. Why have an Audi or BMW when this Germanic machine does what they do for far less? That the pretty shape still has a certain amount of elegance – it’s really ageing well – only bolsters our enthusiasm for the well-priced Vauxhall.  


What’s the best Vauxhall Insignia model/engine to choose?

The choice is broad. Vauxhall sold this generation of Insignia in a tremendous variety of trims through the years, with a varied mix of engines as well. We can give you one top tip right away: go for diesel, rather than petrol. If ever there were a car born to be a diesel, it’s this. Pick from either a 2.0-litre CDTi or later 1.6 CDTi (we prefer the 1.6 engine as it’s more modern, fuel-efficient and emissions-compliant).


The complexity of the trim lines is baffling, with all sorts of names and letter combinations. Keep it simple and go for SRi, which is the best blend of equipment, affordability and style. Many company car drivers did just that, which means plenty of choice available on the used market.

What other cars are similar to the Vauxhall Insignia?

The Vauxhall Insignia’s most obvious rival is the Ford Mondeo, another long-running car that’s previously been around as the Sierra and Cortina. The Volkswagen Passat has served for decades too, while other challengers include the Peugeot 508 and Citroen C5.


If you want even more space and value for money, the Kia Optima and Hyundai i40 are worth a look. And the Skoda Superb out-spaces them all, with a vast rear cabin and boot.

Learn more

Vauxhall Insignia Front Interior

On the inside

Vauxhall Insignia Front Side View

Driving

Vauxhall Insignia Rear Side View

How much does it cost to run

Vauxhall Insignia Front Side View

Prices, versions and specification