Vauxhall Insignia VXR auto review

  • High-performance auto estate
  • On sale now
  • Price: £36,730
What is it? Vauxhall’s high-performance Insignia estate, complete with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

What’s it like to drive? Largely disappointing, but let’s focus on the positives first. The suspension is supple enough to keep things pliant on most roads and the VXR auto is about as easy to drive as performance cars get.

It’s nowhere near as good to drive, though. It’s a heavy car, and you can feel that weight blunting the way the VXR accelerates, corners and stops. Put your foot down and you’ll be disappointed by the performance, which isn’t helped by the gearbox’s overly long gearing.

The gearchanges don’t help, either. They’re slow and often jerky, and the ’box is sometimes too keen to kick down a gear or reluctant to shift up. Things are more assertive in the sportier drive settings, or you can change gear yourself using steering wheel-mounted paddles, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the ’box is outclassed by those in rivals.

Mute steering means there’s little reward for driving the VXR quickly across country, so this Vauxhall is best seen as a brisk motorway express. The wide tyres kick up a lot of noise on coarse surfaces, though, so it’s not as relaxing at a cruise as it could be.

What’s it like inside? It’s a nice place to sit, helped by an interestingly styled dashboard and a superbly supportive and comfortable driver’s seat. There’s also good space in the front and rear.

The boot is a mixed bag. You’ll have plenty of room for luggage, and the rear seats fold flat, but the deep rear bumper means it’s a stretch to put things in or get them out.

There’d be no complaints about the cabin materials if this was a £25k Insignia, but they look a little out of place in this £36k version.

Should I buy one? No. Even if you’re one of the few people in the market for a fast Insignia, the manual version is better to drive. No Insignia VXR makes a lot of sense, though: if you must have a brisk Insignia, the 2.0-litre petrol turbo or high-powered diesel are the ones to go for. If it’s speed and space you need, we’d recommend going for the marginally slower BMW 325i Touring automatic and saving yourself £2500. Better yet, beg, borrow or steal another £3100 for a BMW 335i Touring auto; it’s superior to drive, classier and cheaper to run.

Barnaby Jones

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