TEST DRIVE – Vauxhall Bi-Turbo diesel

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Vauxhall aims to tempt executives away from their Audis and Beemers with the high-performing Insignia Bi-Turbo diesel. Les Oliver checks it out.

LET’S get the worst thing about this car out in the open right away. It was the noisiest car I’ve driven for ages.

Not noisy in the “bag of hammers” sense you used to get with diesels in the last century - arghh, that dates me, but I’m only talking about pre-2000.

The second you turn the key you are aware you are in a diesel, which is unusual with today’s modern crop of oil-burners.

Now to the better points. This car is quick and competent. Insignias are very popular, available in a comprehensive variety of body, engine and trim combinations.

The Insignia outsells its biggest rival, the Ford Mondeo but has still to match the quality and performance of prestige makes, Audi and BMW.

So in a bid to compete, Vauxhall endowed their flagship with their most powerful diesel engine ever, a twin-turbo producing 192bhp, but with C02 emissions as low as 129g/km.

Based on the existing 1956cc unit, the engine is given two turbochargers which work in sequence to avoid turbo lag and produce up to 34bhp more power and 50Nm of extra torque.

Of course there are quicker petrol models but in the diesel sector this car operates in a very select club where price, performance and quality are all closely monitored.

It will reach 60mph from standstill in 8.2 seconds, hurtle along a German autobahn at up to 143mph and still give a reasonable fuel consumption.

Officially, the combined fuel average is 57.6mpg, but driven like that you would be lucky to get 35. After a week’s (sensible) driving on British roads and fuel-saving stop/start hiatuses I averaged 40.4.

To match the performance, the Bi-Turbo has excellent handling and a smooth ride that inspires confidence.

Adaptive damping - normally a £790 option on front-drive Insignias - is standard on the Bi-Turbo.

It’s available with a choice of five-door hatch and sports tourer bodies in SRi, SRi VX-line and Elite trims, priced from £27,120 on the road.

But buyers in this market will want some of the features not included as standard at that price - extras like:

•20-inch 5-twinspoke alloys – £870.

• Satnav/infotainment system with 7-inch colour monitor and shark fin aerial– £1,200

•Front and rear parking sensors, mobile phone system with Bluetooth pack – £510

•Front camera system (incorporating traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, forward collision alert and following distance indicator) – £750

•Adaptive cruise control – £350

•DAB radio – £160

•Leather electric seats – £1145

•Tyre pressure monitor – £110

•Full-size spare wheel – £110

•ou my not go for all of these, but if you did, you’d not see much change out of £33,000 – and wonder if you should have stayed with your Audi or BMW!


Vauxhall Insignia Bi-Turbo

Engine: 2.0-litre diesel

Power: 192bhp

0-60: 8.2 secs

Top speed: 143mph

Economy: 57.6mpg

CO2: 129g/km

Price: from £27,120­