Holden’s manufacturing will cease in 2017 and to ease into the transition period Holden will increase the number of cars it will import. One of those is a true bahn stormer, the potent and stylish (Opel) Holden Insignia VXR V6 turbo, released in 2015.
It’s an eyecatcher, the Insignia VXR. Lithe, curvy, assertive, bigger than it looks at 4830 mm in length, with flanks that have a distinctive scallop and with the test colour coated in a metallic grey-green, it would reflect light at different angles. There’s huge 20 inch diameter grey painted alloys wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero rubber that provide superglue road holding and an outstanding all wheel drive system that transfers torque on demand to where it’s needed and a sophisticated electronic limited slip diff at the rear. All of these are mated to a sensational twin scroll turbo V6. It’s “just” 2.8L in capacity however delivers 239 kilowatts and an outstanding 435 torques. Both come at 5250 but the engine delivers somewhere around 90 percent of that peak from around 2000. It’s tractable, flexible, unbelievably potent and sees triple digits from a standing start in under six seconds.Adding to the firepower is the three mode drive system. You can choose from Touring, Sports, or VXR. Think a small ham and pineapple pizza, a large Supreme, and a family meal with free drinks and delivery thrown in. Touring has a slightly softer ride quality although you’re not left in any doubts as to the potential underneath. Sports firms up the FlexRide suspension and changes the settings in the gearbox, holding gears a little longer and allowing the driver to further explore the ability of the engine. Even the steering firms up, feeling tighter and requiring more effort to move the wheel.
Under normal driving the transmission is fluid if sometimes reticent to change when you feel it should. Stoke the fire and it becomes a totally different beast. Crisp, sharp changes are on tap, matching the rasp from the exhaust as the electronic tacho rises and falls in unison. Select Sport or VXR and the eight inch LCD screen also changes, offering up a range of information and a somewhat gimmicky looking g-force display. You do, though, get a screen where that is minimised and housed inside a silver themed speedomoeter. It’s visually impressive and sharp looking.Inside the Insignia is a welcoming and snug set of seats for the driver and front passenger. You have to lower yourself down into them but once in they’re supportive and wrap around the body. The rear seats are less so and are somewhat compromised in regards to leg room. Thankfully, Opel has fitted the seats with eight way power adjustment and both heating and venting, a godsend in Sydney’s late year variable weather. There’s some chromed trim in the front, which does add some visual class but unfortunately also reflected sunlight directly into the driver’s eyes.The dash design itself mirrors that found in Jaguar, with a swooping curve from door to door and around the base of the windscreen. The door grabhandles mirror that design, to a point, but feel somewhat too far back in the door ergonomically. The tiller has a chunky feel to it, with a soft touch texture and houses all of the now commonplace controls, plus has a pair of paddles fitted to the rear. Sadly, the texture here is of a lesser quality than the rest of the cabin. Also a touch questionable is the touch required to adjust the aircon temperature, requiring sometimes a stab or three in order for a finger to register, meaning the eyes aren’t focused on the road. The General’s MyLink system is on board, with DAB radio (bliss) and housed in a clean and uncluttered console. There’s Pandora and phone projection via Apple CarPlay. The voice command system makes for a high technology presence and for safer driving.When the Insignia VXR is on the road and everything is warmed up and ready to play, one can be assured assured that a most excellent driving experience is waiting to be delivered. Rolling acceleration is stupendous, ride quality of the 2737 mm wheelbase only jiggly on the most unsettled of surfaces such as the gravel ring road surrounding Sydney Motorsport Park, belying the 35 series profile of the tyres. Otherwise it’s well damped, following undulations and curves as if glued to the road and imparting a feeling of real confidence as you punch out of corners. All this while the electronics work faithfully and unnoticed in the background. What isn’t unnoticed is that powerplant and exhaust. Built in Australia, there’s a leonine roar when pushed, a rumble with a fine metallic edge on idle. You’ll pay at the pump though, with a 70 litre tank only swallowing 98 RON and consumption equivalent to a dockside pub full of workers after Friday knockoff.
To back up the performance capability, there’s Brembo brakes up front and vented & drilled discs brakes. The brakes will haul up the 1800 kilo machine time and again but there’s just a tad too much dead pedal to start with and lacks real feedback. There’s collision avoidance radar, blind spot warnings, adaptive cruise control plus auto emergency braking. Up front, there’s the standard LED driving lights but you’ll get adaptive lighting that adjusts to your speed plus auto high beam on and off. Holden offers a standard three year or 100,000 kilometre warranty plus Lifetime Capped Price Servicing to boot. Speaking of boots, there’s a capcious 500 litres available behind the 60/40 splitfold seats. To put that into perspective, that’s more than the Commodore.At The End Of The Drive.
The Holden Insignia VXR is a rare beast in that it’s a performance sedan, a big car, not a V8, offers outstanding grip levels and a beautiful ride, all wrapped in a pretty and stylish body. It’s also a car that seems to have slipped under the radar of buyers, with a low recognition level shown by the amount of swivelling heads on pedestrians. Priced at not much over $50K, it’s a hidden performance bargain and one that would be even more enjoyable if the Insignia was found to be sans a couple of hundred kilos. There’s a high level of tech onboard, unusual at the price point as well, but the real attraction for a driver that thrives on sheer back bending ability is that firecracker engine up front.
For a comprehensive look at the Holden Insignia VXR, go here: Holden Insignia Information