What is it?
It was the fastest sub-£30,000 drive you could buy when it was launched, and that remains true today of this usefully improved Vauxhall Insignia VXR, in hatchback form if not as the pricier Sports Tourer tested here.
The Insignia’s mid-life polishing includes a freshened nose and tail, a major upgrade for its instruments and infotainment and some chassis modifications. The 321bhp 2.8 litre turbo V6 remains unchanged, driving all four wheels to produce a 170mph top speed and a 0-62mph sprint of 5.9sec.
The chassis benefits from all the ride-smoothing changes made to mainstream Insignias, besides some VXR-specific mods. Its highly effective torque-steer quelling HiPerStruts, remain, but the front subframe now sits in softer mounts, there are new suspension control arms and the Sachs adaptive damper and roll-bar settings have been rethought.
The VXR’s rear suspension has also been lightened and rebushed, and its ESP and traction control algorithms have been refreshed too. Plenty of mods then, but the all-wheel drive system is unchanged, the Haldex-style system directing a nominal 90 per cent of torque to the front axle in the standard and Tour settings, this ratio shifting to 60:40 front:rear split when the VXR button is sunk.
Pressing the VXR button also sharpens the throttle (too much for delicacy), stiffens the dampers and slightly alters the weighting of steering gear that still feels over-springy and unmechanical.