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.

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Vauxhall range

Driven this week

  • Honda Civic
    Car review
    21 April 2017
    Honda’s 10th-generation Civic hatchback goes global — but is that good news?
  • Toyota Prius Plug-in
    First Drive
    21 April 2017
    Second-generation Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid gets a bigger battery with new 39-mile electric range, more tech and styling updates, but it's expensive
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 EcoTSI 150 DSG
    First Drive
    20 April 2017
    Addition of DSG automatic gearbox in this top-spec model doesn't show the Ateca small SUV in its best light
  • Isuzu D-Max Blade
    First Drive
    20 April 2017
    Isuzu treats its rough-and-ready D-Max pick-up truck to a new engine, revised looks, better hauling ability and more equipment
  • MG ZS
    First Drive
    19 April 2017
    We drive MG’s upcoming Ford Ecosport rival in China-spec; good looks and a smart interior bode well for the UK version