Subaru WRX STi vs. Insignia VXR

Subaru WRX STi vs. Insignia VXR twin
Credits: Pete Gibson/ Otis Clay
1 Apr, 2011 3:40pm

Rally bred Subaru super-saloon is back – but can it beat Vauxhall flier?

The Subaru super-saloon is back! For many years, the Japanese firm’s rally bred four-door Imprezas were a must-have addition to the garage of any driving enthusiast. Ballistic turbocharged pace, a grippy four-wheel-drive chassis and great-value pricing made previous generations of Impreza performance car legends. Sadly, the latest hatchback variant hasn’t proven as popular as its illustrious predecessors. And in an effort to attract fans back into the fold, bosses have pulled the wraps off a new saloon version of the WRX STi range-topper. 

The Impreza name has been dropped, but it certainly has all the ingredients to succeed, thanks to a 296bhp boxer engine, muscular bodywork with wide wheelarches and the manufacturer’s famed 4WD system. Only trouble is, the Subaru is no longer a high-performance bargain, as it weighs in at an eye-watering £32,995. 

For this money, buyers can take their pick from a raft of desirable, upmarket machines. In fact, for only a fiver less, you could get behind the wheel of Vauxhall’s extremely capable Insignia VXR. 

With its sleek looks, turbocharged V6 powerplant, sophisticated 4WD system and classy, generously equipped cabin, the Luton company’s latest charger is a formidable package.

So which of our four-wheel-drive sizzlers will get a stronger grip on the top step of the podium.

Verdict

If this test was decided purely on straight-line performance and boisterous character, the Subaru would emerge victorious. But unless you’re always in the mood for back-road thrills, and willing to exploit the STi’s searing cross-country pace, the narrow powerband and stiff chassis mean the car soon becomes wearing. And while the cabin is comfortable and spacious, it can’t match the Vauxhall’s design or quality. In the end, the clincher is financial – the WRX STi simply demands too much from its owner’s pockets to be a viable proposition here. 
For keen drivers who are looking to mix pace and practicality, the Insignia VXR makes much more sense. Not only is it better looking, built and packaged, for 90 per cent of the time it’s just as quick. The fact it manages all this without compromising comfort and refinement seals the deal.

Disqus - noscript

I cant agree with this verdict - there is no way I would spend money on a fast Vauxhall Vectra over the iconic Subaru Impreza.

Subaru. I'd take the STi, but only because I'm a young guy who likes hot cars (lol). The VXR says 'family' - which is not what I want.

...drive a fast Vectra, then drive a fast Insignia...one torque steers like a beeatch and the other is really good! I would only consider the 2003-2005 impreza.

I totally agree with the verdict of this test. Sure, the Scooby might put a smile on your face when you're willing to go for a 'Blat', but what's gonna happen when you need to take the girlfriends Mum down to the shops? She's gonna need a new spine, that's what lol.

Where the Insignia VXR wins out is that it can be all things to all people. Wanna go for a 'Blat'? it can do that. Wanna go pick up that new washing machine from Comet for the Girlfriend? It can do that too. Wanna impress your mates with a car that's a little bit different? You might be pleasantly surprised by their reaction. Remember, it is a VXR.

Another upside to VXR ownership is that you won't be inflicted with Subaru's horrendous servicing costs. The downside? You'll have to deal with Vauxhall's crappy servicing department.

Sorry, I'd rather take the Impreza. I can't resist the insane pace and visual impact (with the optional wing) this car offers even though it is £33k. The Insignia is probably a better car to live with but telling your friends you drive an Insignia is a bit.... meh.

Have always love Impreza STis, but sorry - the new Impreza is a dog! The best one to look at was (I agree with Cousins11 on this) the 03-05 'BlobEye'. From the back, this one could be a Toyota! It looks heavy and, what's more, the iconic burble of the Boxer engine isn't what it was. Wouldn't have the Insignia either - give me a low-mileage '04, in blue with the Litchfield Type 25 conversion and it would make this one look like it was standing still. A shame, really...

vauxhall for me looks better designed and built in germany. Also they have a pretty good record in touring cars .

As an owner of a 2008 WRX STi, I've yet to find many things that can keep up with it. On the other hand, turn the engine to Intelligent mode, and it'll happily return 30mpg (I know, not great, but not that awful either). As for comfort, even with the Prodrive springs fitted, the ride is firm but compliant, you will not need a new spine.

I cannot comment on the Insignia as I have not driven the VXR version, but personally, I would always choose the Subaru, but that's just my personal choice.

I'm guessing most of the comments are made by people who own neither car?

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