Vauxhall Insignia VXR: driven

* You'll love the ride and feel * No performance car, though * From £30,995...

Vauxhall Insignia VXR: driven

Meet the Insignia that has to be restricted to 155mph the VXR. Vauxhall has given the Insignia VXR (which is available as a saloon and estate as well as this hatchback) gently bulging wheelarches, a rear spoiler, deeper bumpers and twin exhausts on the outside, and unique trim and some serious Recaro seats on the inside.

This is nothing compared with the mechanical changes: in comes a turbocharged 2.8-litre V6 petrol engine, plus an adaptive four-wheel-drive system and bespoke chassis settings.

The result is a car that'll blast to 60mph in just 5.6 seconds. Trouble is, it never feels that fast and that, in a nutshell, is typical of our reservations: the VXR doesn't feel quite right for a sporting car.

Yes, you get from A to B very quickly; the car handles neatly, with loads of grip; and the four-wheel drive means it has no problem using all its power. However, you feel remote from the action: the steering is light, the gearchange vague and the brake pedal spongy (although the brakes themselves are strong). You can barely hear the engine, either.

No performance car dynamics

Ironically, what the car does well are things you'd probably sacrifice in a VXR: the ride is surprisingly comfortable, even with the optional 20-inch wheels, and the car is generally refined.

Overall, the VXR makes a fine executive express. However, a lesser Insignia will do that just as well and it won't cost (a faintly ludicrous) £31,000, incur the top rate of company car tax or struggle to return 20mpg in everyday driving, as the VXR does.

Our verdict

An executive express rather than a performance car