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Vauxhall power ahead; The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer VXR combines practicality with sleek style and a great performance, discovers ROBIN ROBERTS.


ON the crest of a wave, the Vauxhall Insignia was Britain's best-selling medium-sized model last year.

Most of its success was built on its appeal to cost-conscious fleet buyers and drivers. But more fortunate user-choosers and private owners can pick the Insignia Sport Tourer VXR Auto as their preferred version - unless they can afford the all-singing VXR8 at up to pounds 51,250.

With the Sports Tourer, you have additional loading capacity, with a clever tailgate that reveals rear lights when open, making it safe to use in the dark on busy roads.

The nominal boot space of 540 litres rises to 1530 litres with the back seats folded - and it's a useful and practical shape, with a low deck and a full luggage cover when the back seats are used.

The beefy 2.8-litre V6 engine comes with six-speed manual or, as tested here, automatic gearbox.

Power flows strongly and consistently, with no hesitation, and silky changes give a feeling of refinement and sophistication, as well as that powerful urge when you're overtaking.

You will not find any gaps or performance lacking in this svelte tourer.

But you pay a price for the snappy performance - it is not particularly economical and its emissions figures are eye-watering.

But there is the satisfaction of knowing that you have a very capable all-rounder under foot.

This vehicle cruises with composure on main roads and motorways and is a true grand tourer, capable of gobbling up the miles without any strain, while you sit in comfort.

Access is good and the seats large and supporting, with a lot of adjustment available on the front pair.

Oddments room is good throughout the cabin, the heating and ventilation is comprehensive and clear, and the instruments large.

Major controls are all grouped close to the driver.

The steering is well weighted, the turning circle good and there's no vibration or kickback from the wheel.

I liked the balance to the brakes and the undramatic way they slowed the Insignia ST from high speed, without any problem but a lot of confidence.

The ride is subtle and sophisticated, soaking up shocks without complaint, while giving good feedback about its handling and reassuring road-holding.

Visibility is good to the front and sides, with bright, wide-ranging headlights that turn with the wheels around curves.

There are blind spots over shoulders but it's not as bad as some smaller hatchbacks.

The difficulties of designing a sports tourer mean there has to be a compromise between ability to carry loads and agility in winding lanes - but the Insignia VXR has struck the right balance.

This is a vehicle that is well-equipped, well-built and performs with distinction.

Factfile: Model: Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer VXR Auto Engine: 2.8-litre petrol Power: 325ps Top speed: 155mph 0-62mph: 6.2 seconds Fuel economy: 25.7mpg CO2 emissions: 259g/km Warranty: 100,000 miles Price: pounds 36,730 On sale: Now


COMPOSED J You have a very capable all-rounder under your foot
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 2, 2012
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