While many generations of Holden buyers have grown up on a steady diet of fast Australian made RWD V8 Kingswoods, Toranas and Commodores over the years, GMs decision to close the Holden factory in 2017 means that for the first time in 50 years people will have to look to imported models for performance Holdens.
The VXR Insignia points to the direction that not only may people have to get use to the fact not only is there a chance their performance Holdens may not be V8 powered but they may also be AWD.
Being that I fit right in middle of that demographic and having owned quite a few V8 Holdens in the past I was very interested to see if the VXR Insignia could win me over as well.
With a twin turbo V6, loaded with technology, Haldex all wheel drive system, Recaro front seats and Brembo front brakes the VXR Insignia does look like an impressive proposition on paper indeed.
Take one look at it in person and too me it looks rather nice indeed swooping side profile, muscular yet under stated front styling 19inch alloys rims wrapped in sticky Pirelli tyres and attractive rear end with dual exhaust.
Step inside and your treated to leather Recaro front seats which are not comfortable but supportive as well. The leather-bound flat bottom is comfortable to hold and was the perfect thickness for me.
The digital instrument cluster is just plain and simply brilliant, not only does it look good, contain all the information you need but is easy to read in all light.
Switch the car to VXR mode and it opens up myriad other groovy things such as tyre pressure, oil levels, through to audio information, satellite navigation instructions, road speed and even a G-Metre and lap timer in VXR Mode.
The fit and finish and quality of the interior materials are decent and what you would expect from a car with German origins, the centre stack treatment looks great and is a real improvement on all the buttons the centre stack had in the Opel Insignia I reviewed a couple of years ago and looks much better and pleasing to eye’s then the centre stack on the other Opel sourced cars in Holdens line up at the moment.
If you have read some of my other Holden reviews you know that I am a massive fan of Holdens Mylink system as its once of the best in-car multimedia systems on the market the features, ease of use and connectivity is just awesome.
Legroom and head in the front is great, although step into the back and legroom and head is not as good some other mid size cars on the market part of that can be attributed to the slopping roof line. There is room for 3 people but i think 3 adults would be a bit of squeeze.
Boot space is pretty damn good at 500L and it expands for larger items thanks to the 60/40 split folding rear seats.
Under the bonnet the VXR is powered by 2.8L Twin turbo V6 pumping out 239kW and 435Nm of torque.
Not only will the VXR easily keep up with traffic but it will bloody the nose of some more expensive cars.
Despite its performance the VXR is happy to just tool around town in everyday traffic performing your everyday family duties. Should want to put some excitement in your life on weekends just point the VXR at your favour piece of road and the VXR will put a big smile on your face I know it did to mine.
The max torque and power come on high in the rev range so while the VXR can be a rapid off the mark there is some lag so it’s not as quick as some cars I’ve tested, but hammer the throttle while moving and the VXR is a different animal indeed and will take off like a scalded cat.
Fuel economy wasn’t stellar though with me averaging 12.2L/100km for my commute for the week certainly you may able to to do better if you can resist that twin turbo V6 urge but I just couldn’t resist it. On the freeway though the VXR does return some decent figures so it does make a decent long distance cruiser.
Backing the twin turbo V6 is a smooth auto transmission that seemed to be perfectly matched tot he engine there was no evidence of hunting for gears, the changes smooth and seamless should choose to take matters into your own hands and change gears yourself you can do that via the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel which worked great.
Despite being of a sporty nature the ride is rather good indeed with hardly any bumps being felt in the cabin everybody that rode in it commented how smooth the ride was.
Throw the VXR at some corners and that’s where the fun begins the steering I found to be well weighted and rather direct, hit the VXR button and the steering and suspension firms up a touch more through the Insignia and turned where I pointed it. The VXR cornered flat and the all wheel drive system offers amazing levels of grip.
Braking power was awesome thanks to the brembo brakes, the pedal feel was great and there was no hint of fade.
Safety wise the VXR Insignia is loaded with safety features including Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB),Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC),Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-lock braking system (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Traction Control System (TCS), FlexRide Adaptive Suspension, Hill Start Assist, Performance Front Brembo® Brakes, Cross-Drilled Front Brake Rotors.
The Insignia gets bonus points for Front and rear parking sensors which are fitted as standard and gets maximum points for having a reversing camera as well.
So after a week with the Insignia I couldn’t walk away any more impressed, the VXR delivers awesome performance, rides, steers and drives exceptionally well and comes with a long list of safety features. The cabin materials as well as the fit and finish is rather good it comes with a great amount of tech features.
The only downsides I found were that the rear seat room can be a bit compromised for taller people and some people might be a little put off by the fuel economy although I would rather swap a litre or two per 100km for the performance this cars offers.
The VXR Insignia is a great looking car and you won’t find another euro import that offers the same amount of performance, tech and safety features for the price.
The biggest problem for the VXR at the moment is the fact that it shares the showroom with the VF Commodore which offers you more space and delivers more performance for a similar price. The big question for Holden though is can it convince those people brought up on steady diet of large RWD V8 performance car that the VXR Insignia is the way of future.
One of the questions I had from the beginning was could the VXR Insignia win me over to be honest my preferences still lay with V8 sedans but the VXR made a huge impression on me and I would be smiling like a Cheshire cat if I had one parked in my garage.
The VXR Insignia offers a unique performance alternative for somebody that doesn’t want a V8 or wants an AWD performance sedan and if you are looking for a performance car with a bit of difference you will not find another Euro import with as much kit for the same price and you really should be taking one for a test drive.
For more info on the VXR Insignia check out Holdens website http://www.Holden.com.au
2016 Holden VXR Insignia:
Price: From $57,083 Drive away
Engine: 2.8L twin turbo V6 239kW and 435Nm
Transmission: 6 speed Automatic with paddle shift, AWD
Recaro® Front Sports Seats, Perforated Siena leather appointed seat trim, 8-Way Power Adjustable Driver & Front Passenger Seats, Power Lumber Adjustment For Driver & Front Passenger, Heated Front Seats. Leather Wrap Sports Profile Steering Wheel, 8″ Driver Information Centre, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop/Start and Speed Limiter, Front and Rear Park Assist, Electric Park Brake, Steering Wheel Height and Reach Adjust, Automatic Headlamp Mode, Bluetooth® with enhanced voice control, Satellite Navigation, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Alert, Reverse Traffic Alert, Following Distance Indicator, Variable Intermittent Wipers, Rain Sensing Wipers, Heated, Auto-Dimming and Power Adjustable Side Mirrors, Bi-Xenon Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL+) with Automatic High Beam, Automatic Headlamp Leveling, High-Pressure Headlamp Washer.