You get a specially tuned chassis, 20mm lower than standard, including special, low-friction “hyperstruts” that cut steering friction and improve feel. You get a three-level ride control system (firm, hard, harder), which also adjusts things like steering weight and accelerator “alertness” as it goes.
There’s a magnificent set of specially adapted Recaro seats and just about every interior nicety you can imagine, short of on-board TV and radar cruise control.
The VXR is relatively quiet but sounds lovely when you give it the beans. It is governed at 155 mph (could probably crack 170), can run a 0-60 mph sprint in 5.8 seconds, and accelerates 50-75 mph in 7.1 seconds.
That’s big performance in a cross-Europe grand touring sense, but not quite enough to match true tyre-burners like the BMW M5 or Audi RS6. But few owners will think it too slow.
Here’s the point: everything has been done with thoroughness and subtelty. The steering is sensitive and has great feel. The engine’s smooth, powerful and entirely free of turbo-lag.
The standard ride condition is firm but comfortable, while more aggressive settings (really only needed for hard driving) work well with the power, even on Britain’s bad roads.
The brakes are extremely powerful, the firm, shapely seats are comfortable for 200 mioles at a time, and the whole car has a base level of smoothness and mechanical refinement that makes you seriously doubt the speedo when it’s reading 120 mph.
Should I buy one?
Yes. Against other cars of its size, equipment and capability, the Insignia VXR is a spectacular bargain. Entry price for a saloon or hatchback is a paltry £30,995, or £32,320 for an estate.
The car is so well equipped that it is only possible to add three options: 20-inch wheels at £1100, a leather pack at £1300 and on-board navigation for £815.
The lack of a big name is a declining problem: the sheer presence of this go-faster Insignia, together the spreading realisation that VXR cars do what is claimed for them, helps a lot.
The car’s bulk is reduced in the driver’s mind by its poise and controllability. But the true no-brainer is this VXR’s value for money.
A car with this ability and equipment would cost between £50,000 and £60,000 in a BMW/Merc/Audi line-up. Save £25k, and concede absolutely nothing.