Vauxhall’s new Insignia VXR is going to be one of the performance bargains of the year – the 321bhp feisty family car will cost £30,995 when sales start in autumn 2009. It’s aimed at the wired family man who values pace as much as practicality and value, a sort of Audi S4 on the cheap.
Hmmm. Three grand less isn’t much less than an S4… Are they credible rivals?
The numbers say yes. The VXR might be cheaper but has comparable power at 321bhp to the S4’s 329bhp, while the Audi wins the 0-60mph charge by half a tick at 5.1 seconds. The Vauxhall packs a turbocharged 2.8-litre V6 to the Audi’s supercharged 3.0-litre unit, and both keep their power in order through all four corners. Like the S4, the Insignia VXR is limited to a top speed of 155mph, but is rumoured to have another 15mph in its locker once the electronic nannies are switched off.
What else is the new Insignia VXR up against?
The most direct rival is the VW Passat R36, but with the same price tag and nearly 10% less power, you’d have to really want the DSG auto ’box (standard on the R36) to choose it over the manual-only VXR. Audi’s other competitor to the VXR is the A4 3.2 Quattro, which is two grand cheaper but 60bhp short on power to the Vauxhall.
The digits add up but what about the VXR’s spec?
Vauxhall is trading on its BTCC credentials and has given the VXR race-bred gear throughout, with a Remus exhaust, Brembo stoppers and bespoke Recaro front seats. The in-house designed HiPerStrut front suspension (similar to Ford’s innovative RevoKnuckle system) and a limited slip diff mean the VXR’s power should have handling to match its power. We’re driving the hot Insignia later in July 2009.
And the styling?
The Insignia VXR sits 10mm lower than the SRi and the drop is complemented by a deep front spoiler with chrome-effect air intakes at either side and a half-mesh grille. At the back there’s an understated spoiler and angular chrome tailpipes set into the bumper. It’s more subtle than you might expect and doesn’t lose the basic composed stance of the Insignia.
The Insignia VXR will be available from September 2009 and available in saloon, hatchback and Sports Touring formats, with a £1325 premium for the estate.