Can a revamped Vauxhall gets its nose ahead of some quality rivals?
With over half of the cars sold in the UK in the last year being bought as company cars, these three are among the favourites. The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is the latest updated version and it’s here with a frugal 1.6-litre engine, like the Skoda Superb, another favourite. But for very little more a month in tax terms you could have the 2.2-litre diesel in the Mazda 6. Decisions, decisions.
Skoda Superb 1.6 TDI 120 SE Technology
Engine: 1.6-litre diesel
Torque: 184lb ft
Top speed: 128mph
CO2 emissions: 110g/km
With a fuel-efficient 1.6-litre diesel the Vauxhall feels the slowest here and it is. It’s odd, because although it gives away about 10bhp to the Skoda it actually has more torque, yet somehow the Skoda feels like the gutsier of the two. However their performance figures are both put in the shade by the Mazda 6. To put that in some sort of context, in the dash to 60mph takes a monumental five seconds longer in the Vauxhall than it does in the Mazda. I’ve read a book in less time than that. Including the index.
All this makes the Mazda feel the sprightliest by far, as well as the smoothest and easiest. But the Vauxhall isn’t bad and is remarkably quiet in operation, which is in contrast to the gruffer note of the diesel in the Skoda.
These cars need a decent ride quality, and you get that with the Vauxhall and Skoda, although the Vauxhall has the edge in terms of ride quality. Both feel softer and more controlled over ragged roads than the Mazda which is a touch firm for comfy mile-eating.
What you’d expect now is for this paragraph to say how that firm ride delivers a controlled handling package, but actually it gets ragged quite quickly. The Vauxhall leans more in corners but the steering feels better and there’s more sense of composure. But neither can match the Skoda, which has agility, steering feedback and the best grip.
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport 1.6 CDTI 110 Techline Nav
Engine: 1.6-litre diesel
Torque: 221lb ft
Top speed: 127mph
CO2 emissions: 105g/km
Cabins count in this sector, and the Skoda leads the way with the classiest interior, lots of adjustment for the driver, and good visibility, aided by rear sensors as standard. The Vauxhall driver sits a bit lower, which can feel better, and gets rear sensors as standard, although they are needed more often. The Mazda driver also needs rear sensors but doesn’t get them, even as an option.
All three offer lots of room for occupants front and back, although the Mazda is the tightest in the rear – even so, six-footers won’t feel cramped. They’ll feel even less cramped in the Skoda, as it has acres of headroom, legroom and everything room.
The Mazda, being a saloon, loses out to the other two in the boot stakes, with Skoda, as so often, owning this space. And what a space – you can get ten carry-on cases in the boot, and if you need more then the 60/40 folding rear seat will help. The Vauxhall could still handle seven of those cases, plus it has a 40/20/40 folding rear seat configuration, so it should be able to cope with everything from work samples to family holidays quite easily.
Mazda 6 2.2 150 SE Nav
Engine: 2.2-litre diesel
Torque: 280lb ft
Top speed: 130mph
CO2 emissions: 107g/km
Company cars ideally come with low emissions and low prices to keep tax down, but here the Mazda 6 wins a table it didn’t want to. Compared to the Vauxhall Insignia, it’ll cost you another £10 a month in tax.
For those leasing the Skoda is the best bet by far, and the Vauxhall the worst. If buying privately the Skoda will also look most attractive thanks to lower price, lower depreciation, big discounts, and the long list of standard equipment.
Private buyers won’t like the high price, high insurance, high depreciation and low amount of standard kit in the Mazda, certainly far less kit than the more generous Insignia comes with as standard.
All of which leads to a top score for the Skoda Superb. It’s not the latest car here, but it’s still the most voluminous, with class as well as space to add to the cabin. That’s not to say that the latest Vauxhall Insignia is a loser, far from it. It handles better than the Skoda, drives quietly and efficiently and comes with an impressive amount of kit, including safety equipment as standard.
That’s one of the places the Mazda 6 falls down on with low kit levels and the least amount of practicality. Superior performance coupled with low refuelling costs are impressive but not enough against this class of competition.