This is the new Vauxhall Insignia VXR, General Motors’ 321bhp turbocharged super-saloon with four-wheel drive.
The Insignia is a Mondeo rival, but with the VXR version Vauxhall wants to take the fight upmarket, to the 328bhp Audi S4 and 295bhp VW Passat R36.
GM is taking this battle extremely seriously too, having spent a considerable amount of time honing the VXR’s chassis at the Nürburgring and packing it with as much technology as it can lay its hands on.
Thanks to a 2.8-litre V6 turbo Ecotec engine — which has the same block as the old Vectra VXR’s unit but gets a new head and camshafts, revised turbo and different mapping — the Insignia is good for 0-60mph in 5.8sec and a limited top speed of 155mph.
The engine features a micro-alloy forged steel crank, 60-degree cylinder angle and die-cast alloy oil sump. It’s fitted with a single twin-scroll turbocharger and variable valve control for improved throttle response.
The Insignia is the first VXR model to feature four-wheel drive; it gets a Haldex system similar to that found in the Saab 9-3 Turbo X, although the settings have been reworked.
The transmission is coupled to an electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD) which applies more or less torque to either of the rear wheels to help that end of the car follow the direction of the front wheels.
Stuart Harris, brand manager for VXR, says the car’s handling will have a rearward bias and claims drivers will be able to power out of understeer.
“It [the VXR] has always been seen as a competitor to the Audi S4 and low-end BMW M products, and I think it is going to surprise a lot of people,” he added.
The VXR, which will be available as a saloon, hatch and estate, is 10mm lower than the Insignia SRi and rides on 19in wheels, although 20-inch lightweight forged alloys are available as a cost option.
Brembo brakes with colour-coded calipers and cross-drilled discs provide the stopping power.The VXR’s styling is restrained, but it bears more than a passing resemblance to the GTC concept seen at the 2007 Geneva motor show.
There are twin mesh intakes at either side of the main front grille, and both the hatch and saloon get a small rear spoiler and dual matt chrome exhausts.
Inside there are Recaro front seats, a new VXR steering wheel, different instruments and a VXR gearknob.
The car is not due on sale until the summer. Pricing has yet to be revealed, but Autocar understands that it is likely to cost just over £30k, with estate variants carrying a premium of around £1400.