What is it?
The ever-so-slightly updated Vauxhall Insignia VXR. Its new ‘170mph’ top speed is the kind of number that draws the eye, and it may well make a few fast-lane regulars look at the car afresh – but it is't the number that matters most about this performance saloon.
The more important number to concern yourself with is ‘£29,995’.
Following last year’s subtle revision of the Insignia range, Vauxhall has taken the opportunity to reposition the VXR halo model, and it’s done so in a somewhat aggressive, route-one fashion. Vauxhall has added ‘Supersport’ to the car’s name, disabled the electronic speed limiter and fitted a new speedometer to suit, plus it has also lopped a healthy four-figure sum from the asking price.
So here is a sports saloon with more power than either a BMW 335i or an Audi S4, but costing very nearly £9000 less than that Audi. Less, even, than a three-door BMW M135i.
What's it like?
Well, besides 'bang for your buck', it offers plenty to brag about in the office canteen. There’s asymmetrical four-wheel drive, HiPerStrut front suspension, supportive Recaro sports seats, adaptive dampers and four-piston performance brakes by Brembo. Alan Partridge could dine out for months on this stuff.
It had all that stuff before, mind you, so it's no real surprise that we found the car’s performance and handling very much as it was back in 2009, too. The Insignia Supersport is a fairly fast and capable sports saloon, but a slightly mannered and straight-laced one. In the end, while it’s a usable, grown-up kind of performance car, it doesn’t involve or excite you as much as it might.
There’s little drama or definition about the thrum of its V6 engine. It doesn’t sound fast and, given its head, the Insignia doesn’t feel as fast as that 170mph terminal speed implies. Throttle response is soft when you’ve got Normal mode selected, while the pedal becomes over-sensitive in VXR mode. Sport mode is a relatively happy medium, in which the car’s ride and handling compromise is both taut and compliant.