- We like...Price; looks; speed
- We don't...Depreciation
Hot-shot performance version of family car gives a lot for modest cash. Good enough to make you forget that BMW? Forget about image, focus on what you get for your money, and the Vauxhall Insignia VXR looks a steal. Four-wheel-drive, a 2.8 V6 petrol turbo engine, 320bhp and a clever new adaptive ride system is all good for the price tag.
And where high performance versions of ordinary family cars once sported obvious body kits and looked lairy, this is all high-tone and built for purpose. Step inside and it looks every inch the bespoke swiftie you’d want: chunky, fat-rimmed wheel, high-backed firm-but-squashy seats up front (ours were leather: a £1300 option) and a button-packed console, finished in shiny piano-black. It looks a lot for your money. Is it good enough to turn a would-be BMW buyer’s head? We think so.
Fire it up and the motor settles to a lovely, muted burble. As you move down the road you notice quickly how cultured it feels – it rides firmly but with an unexpected suppleness. Sure, the going’s firm but, even at town speeds, it filters thumps and jars as you traverse manholes or broken surfaces.
The steering has a nice weight to it and points the fat front tyres easily and accurately, though it hasn’t the deftness and degree of feedback you’ll get from the best sporting saloons. It is fast but there’s not the rawness or drama that its output suggests, unless you turn on the 'VXR’ button. More about that below.
As you drive, Vauxhall’s FlexRide and adaptive 4x4 watches what you're up to and adapts the car’s responses. Press on, and it’ll sharpen the throttle, rein in the ride response and weight up the steering. In addition to that, there are two dash buttons, marked ‘sport’ and ‘VXR’. These pre-set ride, steering and throttle responses. The first puts them at mid-way, the second full-on.
In fact, respect is advised for ‘VXR’. Thumb it carelessly in a queue at the lights and it’ll lunge ahead madly unless you’re ready for it.
At speed on the motorway it’s a nimble lane changer and effortless over-taker, although it drones restlessly as you approach the national limit. Keep it cruising just above, or at least 5mph below, and it’ll be far happier.
Unless you’re really going for it the car feels most settled in its default settings, with neither button selected.
Underneath it is, of course, a regular Insignia, which means a decent expanse of cabin space, seats for five, and a big boot. Its fuel economy and emissions are what you’d expect for such a powerhouse, as is its insurance grouping. The only direct in you’ll be hit especially badly if you are buying new is in depreciation – the rate at which this VXR loses value from new. After three years and 36,000 miles, trade sources predict that it will retain just 29% of its list price – that’s significantly less than for a similar car wearing, say, a BMW or Audi badge.
Wait three years, though, and used ones will make sensational value buys. Should you get one now? If you love driving – and you’ve plenty of cash – this Insignia is a compelling drive.
To read our review of the regular Vauxhall Insignia, click here
To view and buy new and used Insignias on motors.co.uk, click here
- Engines2.8 V6 petrol turbo
- 0-60 mph5.6secs
- Insurance groups18E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: