£31,444 - £34,264 Price range
25 - 26 MPG
The Vauxhall Insignia VXR Supersports is the fastest version of the company’s large family car and can be specified as a saloon, hatchback or estate. The Vauxhall is a rival to more expensive cars such as the BMW 340i, Audi S4 and Volvo V60 Polestar.
The biggest difference between the VXR and a regular Insignia is its 325hp turbocharged V6, which sends power to the road through a four-wheel-drive system. The engine has a smooth power delivery and never feels strained.
Another huge difference compared to the regular Insignia is the handling – much of the suspension has been upgraded so that it can cope with the power increase and reviewers are impressed. The VXR steers, stops and rides nearly as well as its German rivals.
Not much has been changed inside though, but the sporty details that have been added serve their purpose and bring a bit of flair to the otherwise no-nonsense cabin. Our only complaint is the the tight rear headroom in the saloon and hatchback models.
Priced lower than competition and with plentiful standard equipment – only leather seats are optional – the Insignia VXR appears to be good value, too.
The regular Insignia’s interior is praised by reviewers. The materials are high quality and the design is smart. The dashboard used to have a confusing number of buttons, but the 2014 facelift bought a new infotainment system with an eight-inch screen that controls most of the car’s systems so the dashboard is less cluttered.
The sporty VXR details add to the already decent interior. There’s a flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminium-trimmed pedals, dark headlining and VXR-branded gear shifter and dials.
Vauxhall Insignia VXR passenger space
The body-hugging sport seats are another VXR upgrade and are the most highly praised part of the cabin – there’s plenty of adjustment to get a nice, low driving position and they are very supportive yet comfortable enough for long journeys. Overall passenger space is also good, if not class-leading – it can carry four adults over long distances in comfort and even five can fit if they don’t mind bunching up.
Vauxhall Insignia VXR boot space
Whether you go for the saloon, hatchback or estate, the Insignia VXR is a practical car. The saloon has the smallest boot at 500 litres and has the narrowest opening. The hatchback is better at 530 litres, while the estate is the most with 540 litres of space, and 1,530 litres with the rear seats down. Overall the Insignia VXR is more versatile than the BMW 3 Series (495-1,500 litres) or the Audi S4 (505-1,510 litres).
On old Vauxhall models, the VXR badge meant bonkers acceleration and unwieldy handling. However, the Insignia VXR can go around corners at license-losing speeds without too much fuss, but it’s most at home on the motorway eating up miles with ease. Despite the 20-inch wheels and 20mm lower sports suspension, the Insignia VXR impresses testers with its ability to soak up bumps and road imperfections.
Buyers get a choice between a six-speed manual or an automatic with the same number of gears. Neither will win any awards for innovation, but the manual has a nicer gear lever than in an Astra VXR and the automatic can shift manually via paddles mounted behind the wheel.
The adaptive suspension has three driving modes – Normal, Sport and VXR. No matter the driving mode, the Insignia VXR is confident and grippy thanks to its four-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring, but once you start nearing its limits it the front end will eventually lose grip.
Powering the Insignia VXR is a 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 producing 325hp. In a time when Mercedes has a 2.0-litre producing 380hp, the larger Insignia engine doesn’t sound very exciting, but it has more torque over a wider rev-range and acceleration feels linear as a result. The dash from 0-62mph is dispatched in 5.9 seconds while the top speed is limited to 155mph. Remove the limiter (something Vauxhall will do free of charge) and the Insignia will keep on going until it hits 170mph.
That large engine comes with drawbacks, though – chiefly running costs. Official fuel economy is 24mpg, but most reviewers struggle to get even 20mpg out of it. CO2 emissions are 249g/km, so annual road tax costs a hefty £490.
The regular Insignia was crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2014 and scored the maximum five stars. The VXR, being essentially the same car, should be just as safe and comes with six airbags and the latest stability and traction control tech.
Beefier brakes and the VXR’s grippy four-wheel-drive should prove helpful in reducing the chances of a shunt in the first place.
The regular Insignia has already generous equipment levels and the VXR model is even better specified. It has just about everything as standard – sat-nav, climate control, automatic lights, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth phone connectivity, cruise control, Recaro sports seats, powerful Brembo brakes, adaptive bi-xenon headlights – the list goes on and on.
At this price point the VXR is much better value than a like-for-like BMW or Audi with only the high running costs curbing its appeal.
The Vauxhall Insignia VXR undercuts its main German rivals on price, offers extra equipment and a more spacious interior. On paper it’s a good alternative to a BMW or Audi, however it’s not as involving to drive as the 3 Series or as technologically advanced as the Audi.
As a sports saloon/estate, it’s not the best, but you’d struggle to find a car that can cover ground so quickly for less money.
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