Used Vauxhall Insignia (2008-2017)

A big car for not a lot of money, the Vauxhall Insignia makes even more sense as a used car

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Broad range of engines and trim levels to choose from
Great value for money
Comfortable seats

Weaknesses 

Lack of rear headroom
Loses vaue quickly
Poor customer satisfaction levels

The Vauxhall Insignia is a large five-door family car, which is also available as a four-door saloon or five-door estate (called the Sport Tourer, or Country Tourer,in models with slightly raised ride height).

First introduced in 2008 to replace the Vauxhall Vectra – to compete with large family cars such as the Ford Mondeo, Mazda 6, Kia Optima and Volkswagen Passat – it was replaced in 2017 by a new generation.

With many buyers are moving away from buying large saloons – instead opting for crossovers and SUVs such as the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Renault Kadjar and Volkswagen Tiguan – it means that used values have plummeted and older cars are available for as little as £3,000.

From the outside, the Insignia still looks stylish despite its age, thanks to a sleek roofline that almost makes it look like a coupé. There are slim headlights that, in some later, higher-spec models, feature LED daytime running lights, while there are smart chrome details to make it look more expensive.

Inside, the Insignia had a significant upgrade in 2013. We’d recommend these cars as long as your budget stretchest to £7,000 or more. These cars have a dashboard that almost surrounds the driver, sweeping round from the bottom of the windscreen and into the doors, while there’s a large central touchscreen to control the car’s entertainment system and satellite navigation (where available). The heating and ventilation controls are situated slightly lower, while it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position thanks to comfy seats that have plenty of adjustment.

Up front, there is plenty of space in the front for two tall passengers. Rear seat passengers will struggle a bit more for headroom because of the sloping roofline, however. The boot is a good size, offering 530 litres of space that can be expanded by folding down the rear seats (they don’t fold completely flat, though).

There is a huge range of engines and trim levels to choose from in the Insignia, with 14 for the original model, trimmed down to nine – Design, SRi, VX-Line, Energy, SE, Tech Line, Limited Edition, Elite and VXR – for the post- 2013 refresh. All models are fairly well equipped, but the revised cars have a plethora of extra equipment, including DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB inputs and cruise control.

Cars built after 2015, and with trim levels towards the top of the range, come with Vauxhall’s OnStar connected services. This is Vauxhall’s concierge service that has a central call centre that can help you find a destination, alert the emergency services if the car’s involved in an accident, while the car can also act as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

In terms of engines, there’s a wide range of petrol and diesel units to choose from, whether you’re looking for the best economy or something more high-performance. Diesel cars will constitute the majority of used cars on the market, thanks in part to the Insignia’s popularity in the fleet market.

The Insignia is a safe car and received a five-star rating from safety testing body Euro NCAP, plus it comes with six airbags, a tyre-pressure monitoring system and electronic stability control as standard.

Owners are not happy with their cars, though: the Insignia came in 165th place out of 200 cars in the 2015 Driver Power survey and Vauxhall has been dogged with poor satisfaction levels for many years.

Last Updated 

Thursday, June 7, 2018 - 13:30

Key facts 

Warranty: 
Three years / 60,000 miles
Boot size: 
530 litres
Width: 
1856mm
Length: 
4842mm
Height: 
1484mm
Tax (min to max): 
£0 to £505

Best Vauxhall Insignia for... 

Vauxhall Insignia SRi 1.6 CDTi 136PS S/S ecoFLEX
The 1.6-litre CDTi engine, which Vauxhall calls a ‘Whisper diesel’ should return around 74mpg and has CO2 emissions of just 99g/km, meaning no road tax bill. This engine is fitted to other models, but SRi trim adds a few sportier touches to the exterior.
Vauxhall Insignia SRi Nav 1.6 CDTi 136PS S/S ecoFLEX
The SRi Nav has all the great economy benefits of the model above, but with sat-nav included as standard, which will be useful for family holidays away and also will be more attractive to buyers when you come to sell it on.
Vauxhall Insignia VXR Supersports Nav
The Insignia VXR Supersports is powered by a 2.8-litre V6 engine that produces more than 300bhp. It’s one of the fastest family cars on sale, and you get a lot of power for the money. It’ll lose its value incredibly quickly, though.
Vauxhall Insignia Design 1.8i 140PS
Entry-level Design models come with plenty of equipment as standard, however the 1.8-litre petrol engine is slower and less efficient than the 1.4-litre Turbo that has the same power output. Also, the Insignia is best when fitted with one of the efficient diesel engines.

Vauxhall Insignia History 

  • July 2008 The current Vauxhall Insignia is launched.
  • April 2009 A new 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine is added to the range.
  • April 2009 The high-performance Insignia VXR is added to the range.
  • April 2009 The economical Insignia ecoFLEX is launched - available on all trim levels apart from the SRi and VXR.
  • July 2010 Insignia ecoFLEX CO2 emissions reduced from 136g/km to 129g/km.
  • May 2011 ecoFLEX models' CO2 emissions reduced to 115g/km. A 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine is added to the range, and improved sat-nav becomes available.
  • March 2012 The Insignia BiTurbo with a powerful 192bhp 2-litre diesel engine goes on sale.
  • June 2013 An updated version of the Insignia is launched, with design tweaks and a redesigned interior featuring an optional 8in screen in the centre.
  • September 2013 Engine efficiency is improved.
  • October 2013: First deliveries of revised Insignia model to UK buyers, with new interior and trim range reduced from 13 to eight.
  • July 2015 Revised 1.6 CDTi (136PS) ecoFLEX ‘whisper diesel’ engine introduced to Insignia range.
  • November 2015 IntelliLink Navi 900, which includes Apple CarPlay and the personal connectivity and service assistant OnStar, introduced to range, on Nav models (Design, SRi, SRi VX-Line and Elite) and Tech Line.
  • March 2016 Revised Sports Tourer estate models arrive in UK.
  • April 2017 Insignia is replaced by second-generation models

Understanding Vauxhall Insignia car names 

  • Insignia
  • Trim level
    SRi Nav
  • Engine
    1.6 CDTi ecoFLEX
  • Trim level
    The trim level dictates how much standard equipment is included with your Insignia. Vauxhall made this complicated, with up to 13 to choose from.

  • Engine
    Diesel engines are called CDTi. Petrol versions are followed by the letter T (if they are turbocharged to boost power) or i. The size of the engine is given in litres and the most economical engines are badged ecoFLEX.

Vauxhall Insignia Engines 

Petrol: 1.4T, 1.8i, 2.0i, 2.8 Diesel: 1.6 CDTi, 2.0 CDTi

The Insignia engine range changed quite significantly over the life of the car, so buyers should select their car carefully, in order to get the most advanced engine possible. The diesels are the most popular engine choice with Insignia buyers, too, and are particularly popular with company car drivers.

The biggest change was the addition of Vauxhall’s latest 1.6-litre CDTi diesel engine in mid-2015. Sometimes referred to as ‘Whisper’ diesel, it’s the most modern diesel in the range and produces 134bhp. Vauxhall claims it will return more than 70mpg, but the big news is that CO2 emissions are below 100g/km which means you won’t pay a penny in road tax if you choose this model in ecoFLEX guise. On the move it’s fairly quiet, although the ‘Whisper’ name is typical marketing hype, plus it’s quick enough for motorway overtaking manoeuvres and keeping up with traffic. It’s the best all-rounder in the engine line-up.

If you want something more powerful, you’ll have to go for the 2.0 CDTi which produces 168bhp, yet has emissions figures that aren’t a million miles behind those of the 1.6, so it shouldn’t cost too much more to run.

If you prefer petrol power, there’s a 1.8-litre engine with 138bhp, but this engine is old technology and is outperformed by Vauxhall’s later, more efficient 1.4-litre turbocharged engine: this is the petrol engine to go for if you don’t want a diesel, because it’s smooth and refined, and has reasonable running costs. There’s also a 2.0-litre with nearly 250bhp, but this is quite thirsty and will be quite expensive to run.

Not quite as expensive as the 2.8-litre VXR model, though, which has a top speed of 170mph and will go from 0-62mph in just six seconds. But you won’t get more than 30mpg and it will be expensive to tax, too. Those concerns tend not to be uppermost in the minds of VXR buyers, though.

Fuel

Fuel economy

Power

Acceleration

Top speed

1.4T

Petrol

50.4mpg

138bhp

0 - 62mph: 10.9sec

127mph

1.8i

Petrol

40.4mpg

138bhp

0 - 62mph: 11.5sec

127mph

2.0i

Petrol

35.8mpg

247bhp

0 - 62mph: 7.7sec

152mph

2.8i (VXR)

Petrol

27mpg

321bhp

0 - 62mph: 6.0 sec

170mph

1.6 CDTi

Diesel

68.9-74.3mpg

134bhp

0 - 62mph: 11.4sec

127mph

2.0 CDTi

Diesel

62.8mpg

168bhp

0 - 62mph: 9.0 sec

140mph

Vauxhall Insignia Trims 

Design, Design Nav, SRi, SRi Nav, SE, Energy, Tech Line, Limited Edition, VX-Line, VX-Line Nav, Elite, Elite Nav, VXR

Vauxhall launched the Insignia in 2008 with a bewildering 13 trim levels, but thankfully reduced these to eight in 2013 when the car was heavily revised. However, this dizzying array of trims (combined with a wide range of engines) mean that there’s plenty of choice buyers of a used Vauxhall Insignia.

It’s worth noting that all post-2013 models have an augmented list of standard equipment, so models sold between 2008 and then might not feature the likes of DAB, Bluetooth connectivity, USB connection, LED daytime running lights, leather-covered steering wheel, cruise control, electric four-way lumber adjustment on driver’s seat, electric height adjustment on driver’s seat, electronic climate control and electrically adjustable/heated door mirrors.

All these features are on the Insignia Design, while Design Nav adds satellite navigation. The sat nav in this will feel outdated, so it’s probably not worth buying a Design Nav model when your Apple or Android phone has better mapping. Energy models add 18-inch alloy wheels and different interior trim to the Design.

SRi models are slightly sportier, with 17-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension and sports seats, while there are front foglights and dark tinted rear windows. Again, SRi Nav models add sat-nav. SRi is the one to go for if you want a generous amount of equipment with a slightly sportier look.

VX-Line models add even more of a touch of sportiness over SRi models, with large, distinctive 19-inch alloy wheels, a VXR styling pack with lower front bumpers, side sills and a small spoiler at the rear.

SE models feature standard Insignia styling, but adds electric rear windows, automatic lights and wipers and chrome window surround over entry-level Design models. Tech Line - a favourite with company car drivers - adds sat-nav and Vauxhall IntelliLink touchscreen entertainment system.

Next up is the luxurious Elite trim. This features dual-zone climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, heated leather seats, bright xenon headlights, electric folding door mirrors and Vauxhall OnStar system - what Vauxhall describes as “your own personal connectivity and service assistant.”

There’s also the Insignia Limited Edition. This features unique bi-colour alloy wheels, the VXR styling pack from the VX-Line, parking sensors at the front and rear, heated seats and, from 2015 onwards, OnStar.

The Insignia VXR features aggressive-looking, sporty styling on the outside, plus Recaro sports seats, bespoke VXR pedals, gearknob and floot mats, sat-nav, climate control and cruise control.

Vauxhall Insignia Reliability and warranty 

Using data from the 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey (the last full year of the first-generation model), the Vauxhall Insignia is far from the most reliable car on sale. It came 165th place out of 200 cars overall, while it performed even worse in the reliability category, placing 179th. It also came in 159th place for build quality, despite the look and feel of the interior materials appearing impressive at first.

Diesel models have a history of dual-mass flywheel issues and any car that hasn’t had regular long runs could have clogged particulate filters. Manual gearboxes can also be problematic. That said, major problems are rare.

There have been three recalls, too. The most serious of these involved replacing a faulty driver’s airbag module in cars built before November 2010. There was also a recall specific to estates built between July 2008 and March 2015, requiring the replacement a bootlid gas strut, failure of which could lead to the bootlid to drop suddenly on opening. A recall was also put in place because there were issues with the anti-pinch or auto-reverse function of electric windows.

Vauxhall’s warranty covers cars for three years and 60,000 miles, which means many cars will no longer be covered and a third-party warranty might be a worthwhile investment.

Used Vauxhall Insignia 

The Insignia was a very popular car with both company car users and private buyers, which means that there’s lots of choice on the second-hand market. Buyers can therefore afford to be choosy, thanks to the extent of available engine and trim levels, with the car’s weak residual values (the amount of its original value it retains over the years) also working in their favour.

The 1.6 CDTi diesel engine that we recommend is a relatively new engine, so examples of this model will be newer and more expensive than others. Alternatively, the 2.0-litre CDTi engines are almost as efficient and economical, if not quite as quiet and relaxed on the road.

On the petrol side, the 1.4 T is the pick of the bunch, combining decent performance with running costs that are – on paper, at least – impressive.