Vauxhall Insignia (2008 – 2017) Review

Vauxhall Insignia (2008 – 2017) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Vauxhall Insignia is a car that’s easy to overlook. The name conjures up visions of mediocrity and dullness, which are labels it will struggle to shake off.

+Superb ride comfort, excellent efficiency from the diesel engines, practical and spacious.

-Rear seats are not all that not comfortable for adults, lacklustre image, forgettable styling.

Insurance Groups are between 15–38
On average it achieves 77% of the official MPG figure

The Vauxhall Insignia’s biggest problem is its ubiquity. Because it’s so common, it’s often dismissed as just another volume family car, with many buyers preferring to spend more on, say, a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4. Today, family car buyers are turning to crossovers and SUVs in their droves, leaving the Vauxhall Insignia to spiral into the abyss, unwanted by the masses. Their loss is your gain, because this generation of Insignia was a credible alternative to its German rivals, offering a terrific blend of price, equipment, comfort and practicality. We’re not going to pretend that it’s exciting – unless you buy the VXR version – but the Insignia impresses in other ways.

Do you dream of owning a Vauxhall Insignia? It’s unlikely, but the fact that you’re here suggests you’ve got a passing interest in owning one. If so, congratulations for making a fine choice, because the Vauxhall Insignia is one of the most underrated cars of the modern era.

One of its biggest problems is the fact that it sold in such large numbers. There was a time when the Vauxhall Insignia was seemingly everywhere, particularly on the motorways of Britain, as it cemented its position as the car for overworked and underpaid sales reps.

Most Insignia drivers probably fancied a BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class, so staring at a Vauxhall badge on the steering wheel didn’t do much to lift their mood.

Note the use of ‘drivers’ rather than ‘owners’. As a favourite in fleet circles, most of the used examples you’ll look at will have a previous life as a company car. This is no reason to disregard them, because a stress-free life on a motorway is kind on the running gear, plus the terms of the contract mean that servicing will have been carried out on time.

Anyone with experience of a Vauxhall Insignia will almost certainly praise its ride comfort. This was a car designed for the motorways of Europe, so the seats are supremely comfortable and the suspension is as supple as a rival with a premium price tag. You don’t buy an Insignia looking for excitement (unless you’re looking at a VXR model), but you’ll grow to love its focus on ride quality.

You’ll also appreciate the fuel economy. Predictably, most cars left the factory with a diesel engine, with the 2.0-litre CDTi a particular favourite amongst company car drivers.

Although it was available with a range of outputs, we’d favour the smoother, quieter and even more efficient 1.6.-litre CDTi. Avoid the 1.8-litre non-turbocharged petrol engine, but the 1.4-litre turbo is worth a look for its blend of punchy performance and economy. 

For something different, consider the bonkers Insignia VXR, with its 2.8-litre V6 turbocharged engine producing a wild 325PS. This is enough for 0-60mph in just six seconds, with an adaptive four-wheel-drive system to keep you on the straight and narrow.

The Insignia was available with a bewildering array of trim levels, so making your way through the classified adverts can be a daunting experience.

We’d favour an Insignia built after the 2013 facelift, not least because these cars look better and have an improved cabin. Even the entry-level Design trim features a long list of standard equipment, but the flagship Elite model is worth considering on the used market.

If you can live with the drab image, you’ll enjoy one of the best value used cars of 2020. Buy one for its blend of comfort, efficiency and equipment.

Ask Honest John

What is the timing belt interval on a 2.0 CDTI Vauxhall Insignia?

"I'm thinking of buying an Insignia, when should the timing belt be changed on this car?"
The recommended service interval for the cambelt is 100,000 miles or 72 months, but we would always recommended having this completed ahead of the recommended interval.
Answered by David Ross

We're looking at a used diesel car. Should we worry about the DPF?

"We have the opportunity to buy Vauxhall Insignia with a diesel engine. It has 41,000 miles and it's selling for £4150, but we're worried about the DPF. Your opinion would be appreciated. Many thanks."
We'd say that 15,000 miles a year warrant a diesel, particularly if you don't cover many town miles as the DPF needs to get hot enough to burn off the soot that'll block it. That said, you don't say the age of the vehicle in question. If it's an older diesel, I'd certainly be concerned for two reasons. The first being that older diesels are being banned in city centres and this is only going to get more widespread as time goes on - so you may find you have to pay clean air charges in certain places. The second, more serious concern is that the Insignia has only done 41,000 miles. If it's done this over 3 or 4 years, that's okay. But if it's a 2015 model, for example, it's done less than 10,000 miles per year. A diesel needs to cover enough highspeed miles to ensure the DPF doesn't get clogged up and fail. It's expensive to fix/replace a DPF so the low price could be due to the fact that it's nearing a large repair bill. I would speak to the owner about how it's been used and look at any failures and/or advisories, plus the recorded mileage, on the MoT history. You don't want to buy an older diesel and get stuck with issues as soon as you buy it.
Answered by Georgia Petrie

Water is leaking through a windscreen replacement - is the dealer liable for selling me a faulty car?

"I have a 2012 Vauxhall Insignia. I noticed dampness in the drivers footwell so I took it to a Vauxhall dealership under warranty. After a long investigation, they came to the conclusion that it was an aftermarket windscreen leaking. This is not covered under warranty and I was charged for investigation work. I tried to explain that the car was sold to me by them with the replacement windscreen. Vauxhall says there is nothing they can do and I will have to pay for replacement or a re-seal. Is there anything I can do to say they are liable? I have owned the car now for two years."
I doubt that the dealer who sold you the car can be held liable after two years has passed since the sale. You could attempt to invoke Clegg v Olle Andersson (trading as Nordic Marine), House of Lords, 2003, on the basis that the car was sold to you in a fundamentally faulty state: it was sold to you with the windscreen fitted incorrectly. In that case it would be you versus the dealer who sold you the car in Small Claims in the County Court. See:
Answered by Honest John

I can hear water in the sills of my car - how do I drain it?

"I have a 2011 Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi SRi and can hear water movement apparently coming from within the nearside sills? Is this possible, why is it there and how do I resolve this issue? Are there any water drainage points?"
It will be in the door bottoms. The protective wax inside is probably blocking the drain holes. Poke them out with a wooden kebab stick (wooden so you don't damage the paint and promote rust.)
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Vauxhall Insignia (2008 – 2017) cost?