Calling all performance car fans – Vauxhall is building a quattro!
The firm is replacing its top-selling Vectra next year with an all-new family model called the Insignia, and this is the stunning flagship VXR version. What’s more, the performance variant is being tipped to give the Audi S4 a serious run for its money.
It will usher in a raft of firsts for Vauxhall, with a choice of turbocharged V6 petrol or diesel engines, mated to a new four-wheel-drive system.
Costing £25,000 and available in saloon, hatch and estate bodystyles, the Insignia VXR line-up will offer similar performance to Audi’s sporty A4 variants, but with more practicality – and at a fraction of the price.
The new range makes its world debut at the British Motor Show in July, but top-spec VXR versions are still 18 months away. However, General Motors’ engineers are well advanced with the new cars’ development.
One thing is for sure: they will be even more aggressive to look at than the current models. Our pictures, which are based on exclusive inside information, show what buyers can expect from the saloon.
Taking the striking look of the Insignia – which was previewed by the GTC concept at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year – the VXR version adds a meaty bodykit. At the front, the jutting nose gets a body-coloured V-shaped grille, complete with sporty mesh air intakes. The streamlined headlamps get black surrounds, while the ground-hugging front bumper has integral spotlights.
The sporty feel continues in profile, with low side skirts, 19-inch alloy wheels and a sharply curved roof that flows down to a rakish tailgate.
At the rear, a subtle bootlid spoiler and twin chrome exhausts finish the look. Inside, the cabin will draw its inspiration from the GTC, with deep-set dials backlit in red, a chunky three-spoke steering wheel and figure-
hugging sports seats. As with the rest of the range, material quality will rival that of prestige marques.
The Insignia is based on GM’s new Epsilon 2 platform, and it will be larger than the Vectra it replaces. As well as more space, the new chassis will bring other benefits, most notably improved driving dynamics. And each model will get a revised version of the current Vectra VXR’s electronic adaptive dampers, allowing a choice of Comfort or Sport settings.
The big change, however, will be the introduction of an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive transmission. Debuted on the GTC, the new drivetrain can vary torque front to rear, and vice versa, according to which wheels have the most grip. It also incorporates a limited-slip differential to ensure maximum traction.
And that’s just as well, because a 2.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine will power the flagship Insignia VXR. Eclipsing the current model’s 276bhp output, the newcomer will boast in excess of 300bhp – resulting in a 0-60mph time of only 5.5 seconds and a 165mph top speed. With the benefit of revised active suspension and all-wheel drive, it will be at home on twisty roads in a way that its unruly front-wheel-drive predecessor never was.
As a significant amount of sales will go to company drivers, Vauxhall will also launch a 247bhp 2.9-litre V6 turbodiesel variant. Both models get a new six-speed manual box as standard. Equipment will be impressive, with integrated sat-nav, hands-free telephone and audio technology.
The Insignia also promises to be the first Vauxhall to get the new Traffic Assist System. This uses radar and video to scan the road ahead, and slows the car automatically if it senses that a collision is likely.