The Vauxhall VXR brand is still in its relative infancy, but the Insignia VXR marks a milestone: the launch of a direct replacement for one of its models.

The VXR version of the Insignia is a car with a proper predecessor. The Vectra VXR was a large, front-wheel-drive family car with a 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 engine. 

Things are slightly different this time, though. Not only is the starting point – the Insignia – vastly more competitive than the Vectra was when it received the VXR treatment, but this version also features four-wheel drive, which is a first for the VXR brand.

Offered as a saloon, hatchback or Sports Tourer (estate), the Insignia has some of the loftiest ambitions yet for a VXR. The Astra medium hatch and Corsa supermini compete against cars of similar status.

At its price point, the Insignia is short on rivals from mainstream manufacturers such as Ford, Renault or Nissan.

No, Volkswagen Passat R36 aside, the Insignia VXR’s closest price rivals are (admittedly smaller) premium models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. That’s a tall order.

Top 5 Super saloons

  • Jaguar XFR
    Not only is the XFR the class leader, it is also exceptional value compared to rivals

    Jaguar XFR

    1
  • Mercedes-AMG C 63
    Mercedes-AMG C 63 saloon is priced from £59,800

    Mercedes-AMG C 63

    2
  • BMW M3
    The M3 packs a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six that produces 425bhp and 405lb ft

    BMW M3

    3
  • Mercedes-AMG E 63
    The old 6.2-litre V8 has been dropped in favour of a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8

    Mercedes-AMG E 63

    4
  • Jaguar XJR
    The Jaguar XJR offers monstrous, relentless performance

    Jaguar XJR

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week