The law of unintended consequences is usually considered a pretty bad thing (think of a cull of cows to stop them emitting that nasty methane, but suddenly realising you’ll never again have cheese – appalling), but not for the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer.
You see, Vauxhall might not have set out to construct a good tow car, but everything it did to make the Insignia Sports Tourer a great family and business car also turned it into a capable towing machine. Unintended consequences, but in a good way.
What’s it like inside?
Forget the old Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, an estate which wasn’t actually that big or practical. This later generation of Insignia is much bigger and more usable.
There’s loads of space for two adults up front, and plenty of adjustment for the seats and steering wheel, so everyone should be able to get comfortable. On long journeys, the Insignia has your back.
Those travelling in the second row of seats will have little cause to complain either, because there’s plenty of legroom, headroom and shoulder room, so grumpy teens will be able to keep their distance.
However, anyone in the middle seat will have a foot on either side of a large central tunnel (blame four-wheel-drive versions).
The boot may not be the biggest in the class, but it’s still sizeable at 560 litres, and it’s long, wide and low, making loading and unloading your gear really easy.
To fold down the rear seats, all you need do is press a button on either side of the boot opening, at which point you’ll have 1665 litres of space. The rear seats also split 40/20/40, which makes life easier. It’s just a shame that the height between the boot floor and the parcel shelf is so shallow.
How does it drive?
If what you need in your everyday life is a car to get you from here to a long way over there in great comfort, the Insignia Sports Tourer is an excellent option, especially on motorways. However, if ‘over there’ entails a lot of twisty roads, others will do it better, such as a Ford Mondeo Estate or VW Passat Estate. That’s because the suspension of the Vauxhall is soft – good for motorway comfort, less so for progress on B-roads.
The best caravan tow car option for drivers is the 168bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel, which is strong and smooth, and keeps itself to itself most of the time. It produces 295lb ft of torque, so has little trouble dealing with the weight of a caravan. Indeed, the 85% match weight is 1388kg, and the towball weight is 90kg, so it can tow a hefty van.
The good news is, it’s pretty unfussed while doing so. The Insignia is brisk to accelerate and similarly so to stop, and crosswinds won’t upset things much.
Just be aware that hill starts in the Vauxhall can require quite a few revs.
Nobody is going to turn around and say “Wow!” as you drive past in your Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, but that’s not really the point of it. This car is designed to be as unassuming as possible, while getting you and your caravan to your destination with as little consternation as possible. In which case it makes a fine tow car – just don’t expect to have much fun along the way.
You can also take a look at our best used tow car round-up for more ideas too.
- Interested in a review of a more recent Vauxhall towing vehicle? Then see what we made of the Vauxhall Grandland 1.5 Turbo D 130PS Ultimate Auto
Need to know
What will it tow?
- Kerbweight: 1633kg
- Towing limit: 1950kg
- Noseweight limit: 90kg
- 85% match: 1388kg
- 2.0 Turbo D Tech Line Nav
- Insurance group: 21
- Annual VED £165
- Average economy: 53.3mpg
- Interim/full service: £81/£112
- Servicing prices supplied by Servicing Stop, 0844 324 5262, www.servicingstop.co.uk
The Insignia has not been glitch free, it’s fair to say. Recalls include almost 16,000 cars being recalled because of incorrectly routed rear seatbelts.
Then 8489 vehicles were recalled because a clip could chafe against the fuel pump. Faulty turbocharger oil return pipes caused another recall, while a small number of cars were recalled because the wheel rims were of an incorrect thickness.
A full list of recalls for the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer can be found at check-vehicle-recalls.service.gov.uk.
What to pay
- High: Price: £21,700; Model: 2021 2.0 Turbo D SRi Vx-line Nav Auto; Miles: 31,000
- Sweet spot: Price: £16,000; Model: 2019 1.6L Turbo D BlueInjection Tech Line Nav; Miles: 24,000
- Low: Price: £7495; Model: 2018 1.6 Turbo D ecoTEC Blue Injection Design; Miles: 129,000
Or you could try:
Ford Mondeo Estate
The Ford Mondeo Estate has pretty much every base covered. Its 2.0-litre turbodiesel is punchy and refined, with a distaste for the sight of filling stations. The cabin is roomy and well built, but the days when the Mondeo had the biggest boot in its class are gone. Still, it’s good to drive, and you can even have four-wheel drive.
Take a look at our review of the 2016 Ford Mondeo Estate.
Skoda Superb Estate
It’s gargantuan. That said, it’s not perfect, because there’s a lip at the edge of the boot, and when you fold down the rear seats, they leave a step. Best to find one with an adjustable floor, which solves this.
The Skoda feels really well built, is full of luxury kit and drives smoothly. It’s even quite economical if you take things easy.
Take a look at our 2017 Skoda Superb Estate review.
Volkswagen Passat Estate
The Passat Estate feels beautifully crafted, offering a good amount of space up front, and the boot is almost big enough to live in, let alone fill with stuff. Two-wheel-drive 2.0 TDI models are easily capable of towing a van, while the twin-turbo 236bhp BiTDI model is seriously rapid and offers the additional traction provided by a four-wheel-drive system.
Take a look at our review of the 2016 Volkswagen Passet Estate
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