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, while the VXR8 GTS and Maloo are glimpses of what makes Holden so fabled in Australia.

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

The now defunct 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.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Vauxhall range

Driven this week

  • BMW 220d Convertible M Sport 2017 review
    First Drive
    26 July 2017
    The 2 Series range receives a light facelift, enhancing its exterior and interior look, improving infotainment and adding more standard kit
  • Renault Captur Dynamique S Nav dCI 110
    First Drive
    26 July 2017
    To keep pace with rivals in this increasingly competitive category, Renault's popular compact crossover has had a mild refresh both inside and out
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid
    First Drive
    25 July 2017
    New top-of-the-line Porsche hybrid, though fast and flexible, is simply too heavy to strike the same sweet sporting compromise as its siblings
  • Caterham Seven 420R Donington Edition
    First Drive
    25 July 2017
    Limited-edition road-legal Caterham track car is a superbly enthralling drive, with enough creature comforts to be used on the road as well. Even more addictive than most of its rangemates
  • McLaren 570S Spider
    First Drive
    25 July 2017
    McLaren has created its most attainable drop-top by removing the roof from the 570S coupé, but none of the car's talent has come away with it