2012 Vauxhall Insignia Biturbo review

  • 4x4 Insignia driven
  • On sale now; price from £29,785
  • Two-wheel-drive version also available
The Vauxhall Insignia Biturbo is a new range-topping diesel version of the company’s Ford Mondeo rival.

It’s called the Biturbo because it’s powered by a new 192bhp twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engine, and it’s on sale now in both hatchback and estate bodystyles. Here, we’re testing the four-wheel drive model, but a two-wheel drive version is also available.

What’s the Insignia Biturbo like to drive?
Most diesel engines have narrow powerbands, which means all the performance is dished out in one big dollop between about 1500rpm and 3500rpm.

The new Biturbo is different, though, because the first turbocharger works alone at very low revs. It’s small, so spins up quickly, which means the engine responds quickly even at low speeds.

Through the mid-range (between 1500rpm and 3000rpm) a larger turbocharger helps out to provide the maximum 295lb ft of torque. Above 3000rpm, the big turbo takes over completely to maintain performance at higher revs.

The result is impressive, and makes this the most driveable Insignia yet, because you don’t need to change down as often to keep the engine on song. The Biturbo is deceptively fast, too, and can sprint to 62mph in 8.4 seconds (two-wheel drive-versions are even quicker, taking 8.2 seconds).

CO2 emissions are reasonable despite the impressive performance. The 4x4 hatchback pumps out 146g/km, while two-wheel drive versions emit 129g/km.

The bad news is that the Biturbo engine is quite noisy; it sounds gruff under acceleration and grumbles away even when cruising at motorway speeds.

In other respects, the Insignia is unchanged, which means that dynamically it falls short of the Ford Mondeo. Our test car was fitted with huge 20-inch wheels, which made the ride decidedly firm, despite the standard Flexride adaptive damping system.

However, our previous experience with the Insignia suggests a version on smaller wheels will make a comfortable motorway cruiser.

What’s the Insignia Biturbo like inside?
The new Biturbo engine is available only with SRi, SRi VX-Line and Elite trims. SRi models come with lowered suspension, alloy wheels, climate and cruise controls and sports seats, while SRi VX-Line models have chunkier alloys and a VXR bodykit.

Top-of-the-range Elite models add sat-nav, electric leather seats and front and rear parking sensors. Disappointingly, though, you’re still charged an extra £220 for Bluetooth.

As before, the Insignia has an attractive cabin that’s easy to get comfortable in. Rear visibility is poor, though, so you’ll want add parking sensors (£395) if you’re buying an SRi version.

Boot space is a generous 520 litres, and the rear seats fold easily to create a 1470-litre loadbay. However, while the Insignia is roomy, it isn’t as cavernous as its nearest rival, the Ford Mondeo.

Should I buy one?
The biggest problem is the price. The 4x4 model we’re testing here costs just under £30,000, and that’s simply too much for a diesel Insignia – even one with a strong engine and four-wheel drive.

Even the front-wheel drive versions start at £27,120, which is only £900 cheaper than the brilliant BMW 320d. If you’re a company car driver (as most Insignia buyers are) the BMW will actually be cheaper to run, because of its lower CO2 emissions.

For that reason we’d recommend sticking with one of the cheaper 2.0 CDTi versions if you’re in the market for an Insignia.

Ford Mondeo
Mazda 6

What Car? says…

Will Nightingale

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