The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Vauxhall Insignia VXR Estate is a very accomplished model, but persuading customers away from Audi and BMW is a tough task.
Reasons to buy:
- Comfortable and sporting
- Huge load area
- Attractive looks
How good does it look?
The Vauxhall Insignia estate is a handsome car and the VXR model gives it an added dose of aggression. There are standard 19-inch alloy wheels, or you can upgrade to huge 20-inch optional wheels. Deeper bumpers, bold front air intakes, spoilers and twin exhausts give it the looks of a Touring Car championship contender.
What's the interior like?
You sit low in the Insignia, with legs outstretched and the large centre console stretching back between front passengers in a cockpit style. The steering wheel is heavily sculpted and features large silver inserts in its bottom half, which look good but feel brittle in the hand. The dashboard is sturdy, but isn’t as tactile or attractive as that found in the Audi S4 and has too many buttons to be intuitive. Instruments glow white until a VXR button on the dash is pressed, at which point they turn a sinister red, changing the mood in the cabin.
How practical is it?
There’s no shortage of space in the Insignia VXR estate, with 540 litres stretching to 1,530 litres when the rear seats are folded down. It’s more spacious than the smaller S4 Avant and there are FlexOrganiser accessories available to secure luggage, including nets, hooks, straps and storage boxes. The Insignia Estate is a long car (4,908mm), so we’d recommend the optional parking sensors to make life easier when parking. A deep loading lip can make reaching into the boot awkward.
What's it like to drive?
The VXR Estate has a supple ride and huge reserves of grip, aided by its four-wheel drive system. Adjustable suspension and engine settings allow for a normal, Sport and VXR mode, with each giving a noticeably sharper response and firmer ride. VXR mode is great for enjoying the car to its full potential, but most of the time its default settings are the best compromise between comfort and fun. It’s a car well suited to Britain’s poor weather, feeling almost as surefooted in the rain as in the dry. It’s also a big improvement over the Vectra VXR, which was far less polished.
How powerful is it?
With a 2.8-litre V6 turbo, the VXR is not short on power with 321bhp, with 0 to 62mph taking just 5.9 seconds. The engine is smooth and delivers its power in a long lunge, a feeling enhanced by its six leggy gear ratios, which equate to low revs even at high speeds. Unlike in the Vectra VXR, four-wheel drive allows the power to be used without spinning the front wheels and unsettling the handling. The Audi S4 Avant is 0.7 seconds quicker to 62mph, while the rear-wheel drive BMW Touring 335i is 0.2 seconds quicker.
How much will it cost me?
VXR models sacrifice running costs for performance and an average 24.2mpg and emissions of 274g/km of CO2 will equate to significant bills. Perishables including tyres and brakes will also be more expensive than non-performance items to replace. Its rivals from BMW and Audi manage 33.2mpg and 27.7mpg respectively. More significant could be its reduced value, with predictions placing its retained value at just 30 per cent after three years of ownership.
How reliable is it?
The 2.8-litre V6 is a tried and tested engine and there have been no common faults or recalls for the Insignia since its launch. Vauxhall racked up more than 6,000 test miles at the punishing Nurburgring Nordschleife while developing the VXR model, which should have exposed any weaknesses.
How safe is it?
When EuroNCAP crash tested the Insignia Hatchback it received the full five-star score, making it one of the safest cars in its class. It’s fitted with anti-lock brakes, brake force distribution, electronic stability programme, front, side and curtain airbags.
How much equipment do I get?
The VXR is very well-equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels, Recaro front sports seats, VXR interior trim, alloy pedals, CD autochanger and DAB radio, ambient interior lighting, climate control, cruise control, trip computer, bi-xenon headlights, auto wipers, tyre pressure monitoring and an alarm.
The Insignia VXR Estate is a well-sorted performance car with room for all your luggage, but its price places it deep in Audi and BMW territory.