From £30,3557
Ballsy price gives the hot Vauxhall Insignia VXR Supersport a real selling point, but it remains a slightly tame, mannered fast saloon

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.


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But there’s neither a big whoosh of torque to speak of when you ask for one, nor a frenzied race to the redline that might be worth waiting for.

There’s strange inconsistency, too, about the way the Insignia VXR steers. You get a big, unresponsive ‘sneeze zone’ around the dead-ahead, followed by a sudden increase in directness at about 50deg of lock. You can get used to that, though, and when you do, you’ll find reasonable balance and more than enough lateral grip to have a bit of fun with. 

But familiarity doesn’t quite redeem a four-wheel drive system that fails to deliver much extra cornering agility in all but the slipperiest conditions, and that also can’t keep the steering feedback completely unsullied by driving forces as you flex your right foot.

Should I buy one?

This car is neither fire-cracker nor work of dynamic brilliance, but neither of those facts should stop you if you’re particularly fond of the performance bargain.

You could spend £10k more on an averagely-equipped Audi S4 and end up with a car with many of the same dynamic imperfections as this.

Private buyers should beware of the punitive financial probabilities of indulging in this particular mid-life crisis, mind you; the Insignia Supersport won’t hold its value like a diesel BMW 3-series.

But it is priced like one, and it’s every bit as practical. That may be all that your inner 12-year-old needs to know.

Vauxhall Insignia VXR Supersport

Price £29,995; 0-62mph 5.6sec; Top speed 170mph; Economy 26.6mpg; CO2 249g/km; Kerb weight 1825kg; Engine V6, 2792cc, turbocharged; Power 320bhp at 5250rpm; Torque 321lb ft at 5250rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual



Join the debate


7 April 2013

...await the usual torrent of abuse aimed at anything with a griffin badge on it. Not.

Used VXRs are around half this new new price, so I'd still buy a second hand one. How have they come up with that iffy numberplate, by the way?

7 April 2013

I've never really liked the Insignia, but I've always had a soft spot for this VXR. Now if they offered a 'Q' pack which toned down the styling and lost the badges, you could have a lot of fun baiting BMW and Audi drivers. Not that I would condone such behaviour obviously. 

7 April 2013

I have always liked the Insigna VXR and this is still the case.  Not sure the increase in top speed will help its cause but the drop in price is a welcome part of the package.  Yes, the default german performance cars are all better machines but quite frankly, that wouldn't put me off from buying one if I could afford it.  I would however buy a used model and save even more money.  I just like the way it looks and I think it goes hard as the performance figures attest.  I'd have one and would be happy driving it

7 April 2013

A fully loaded mid-size saloon with a 2.7v6 turbo, 320bhp, 0-60 in 5.6 secs and 170 top speed, all for under 30 grand? Yes, please!

Better still, go for a one year old example and snap it up at half price. So what if it isn't the sharpest sports saloon currently in the market? It's still plenty fast, handles and grips well enough and is well built.

As for the badge? Couldn't care less.

7 April 2013

ok i think this car looks stunning, my only gripe with Vauxhall would be the pricing. This seems amazing value for money cosidering the Astra GTC VXR is around about the £28000 figure when you add the essentials like the aero pack and leather pack. so my only question would be why would you choose the astra over this Insignia. personal preference possibly!" i think id choose the Insignia


whats that number plate all about too 

7 April 2013

It's the best looking car in its class; I love it!

7 April 2013

But vowed never to buy one again since suffering major issues with my old 96 Vectra many moons ago. 

The Insignia seems a vastly better product and VXR looks quite appealing; I would consider running a year old one for a few months. 

I'd need to remember not to expect the ultimate in B-road thrills though......

7 April 2013

I could see many police forces using these as unmarked cars. And why not? What's not to like if you can look past its mainstream badge. You certainly can't question the performance-per-pound - only a Focus ST comes close, I feel. And take a look at what else gets used by the police. They aren't stupid and don't tend to use unreliable rubbish. Good case in point, the Skoda Octavia vRS. That VXL numberplate does look a bit suspect though, plod may well take an interest in that too!


7 April 2013

With terrific seats better ride than most and well built to boot. Not sure you will pay 15k for a year old one. I am not sure how it can feel so slow when it is'nt, whats the 0-100 mph?

7 April 2013

I had to chuckle at this review: any positives almost grudgingly given, immediately counterpointed and undermined by 'gentle' criticism. It reeks of bias. 


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