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Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer 1.6 petrol

Size matters—a statement that gets thrown about to describe a multitude of objects and situations. Sometimes it is used out of context and willy-nilly, but in this case, size certainly does matter.

Nowadays the vast majority of new car buyers looking for a spacious vehicle will opt for an SUV. And why not? Many options on the market are practical, roomy and relatively affordable. But what if you could get all of this and more by opting for an estate?

I took delivery of the Insignia Sports Tourer Elite Nav spec for a week, which sits at the top end of the range alongside the GSi Nav. These are the only specs to come with the updated and larger 8-inch touchscreen, Bose sound system, tinted rear windows and LED headlights. They also have Vauxhall’s FlexRide adaptive suspension system, which allows drivers to choose from ‘standard’, ‘sport’ and ‘tour’ modes.

Here’s my first moan—why on earth would you select ‘sport’ mode in a giant estate car? I can understand having it on the hatchback variant, even if the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol is only capable of delivering 200PS. But when you’ve got three dogs, some old furniture and a fridge in the boot, anything other than ‘grandma’ mode becomes idiotic. Is heavier steering and a whiny gearbox really necessary? REALLY?

And it’s this kind of squeeze-everything-in-until-it-bursts mentality that the Insignia was built for. There is acres of room. Acres. If the driver has proportions akin to the BFG, he or she can crank the seat right back without crushing the passenger sat behind. The boot is probably the largest ever built—I’m pretty sure I could live in it with all my belongings and still have room to spare. It certainly trumps those nasty, short but tall boots that are all too common in the SUV segment.

There is a certain type of people that this kind of space suits, and I’m one of them. After taking a trip to Drum Depot in Cardiff (yes, I’m one of those that taps all the time on every surface within reach) and spending a ridiculous amount of cash on new gear, the lovely staff helped me carry it to the car. When I opened the boot one of them said, “This is THE perfect car for drummers, it’s enormous!” Yes, yes it is.

Despite having a lot of weight in the back, the Insignia cruises along at motorway speed with ease. The ride is smooth thanks to that adaptive suspension system, and wind noise isn’t an issue thanks to those lovely Bose speakers. I would probably suggest opting for the more efficient diesel option over the petrol if doing regular long distance motorway driving, a controversial statement in these times, but the 1.6-litre petrol will need lots of topping up, especially if the boot is full.

Another impressive point for the Insignia is its manoeuvrability. The turning circle is excellent considering how long the car is, which means U-turns are a piece of cake. It’s also a vitally important aspect when it comes to parking, a daunting prospect in any space for an estate driver. Yet somehow nailing a parallel park is easy.

This is partly due to the help of the advanced park assist system. There is also a stack of other safety tech available on the Elite nav spec, including forward collision alert with automatic city emergency braking, lane change assist with blind spot alert and rear cross traffic alert. I did have a sketchy moment when driving down a narrow London side street with cars parked either side. All of a sudden the system decided that one of the cars that was parked was in my way, and triggered the emergency braking. Not ideal. Aside from this, the systems all seemed functional and easy to use.

To get the Elite nav spec with all the safety tech and above trimmings will set you back £33,000. It’s not cheap, even when compared to some of the best selling SUVs out there. But if you’re after an estate that is practical and bears similarities to the wardrobe that takes fictional characters to Narnia, then the Insignia Sports Tourer might be a strong contender.