There's a new Holden sports sedan in town, but this time there's nary an "SS" badge in sight.
The Insignia VXR made its local debut in May, but this week TMR is putting the hot sedan through its paces at New Zealand's Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground - under the watchful eye of V8 Supercar champ James Courtney, the VXR's "ambassador".
Available in Australia once again, the "new" Holden Insignia VXR is the reincarnation of the Opel Insignia OPC that was on sale here in 2013 and 2014 - except with a whopping $8000 lopped off the price tag, and some new active safety gear.
You might have some decisions to make, however: priced at $51,990, the Insignia VXR is $9000 more expensive than a Commodore SS, yet has less power and torque.
If that doesn't faze you, you'll be pleased to find that the Insignia now has more equipment as standard, boasts a distinctly European flavour and benefits from the all-weather surefootedness of AWD.
According to Peter Keley, Holden's Executive Director of Sales, the Insignia VXR won't be short on appeal.
“Insignia VXR combines engaging driving performance with a range of advanced safety features and an exciting infotainment system, blended together with world renowned European build quality," Mr Keley said.
“It is further evidence that Holden is serious about our future product strategy. Insignia VXR is a very exciting taste of things to come.”
Mechanically identical to the Opel-badged model that preceded it, the Insignia VXR is powered by a 2.8 litre turbocharged petrol V6 with 239kW of power and 435Nm of torque.
A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and takes power to all four wheels via a constantly variable centre differential. Depending on conditions, the AWD system can shuffle up to 100 percent of torque to either the front or rear axle.
An electronically-adjustable FlexRide suspension also offers the driver the choice of three chassis modes: Standard, Sport and VXR.
In VXR mode, bump and rebound settings for the dampers are tauter and the steering ratio and throttle responses are sharper.
Up front, the Insignia VXR's HiPer Strut front suspension is similar to the torque steer reducing setup used by its smaller cousin, the Astra VXR.
The rear differential also has an electronic limited-slip capability that aids cornering performance.
Brakes are 355mm front/315mm rear units with Brembo four piston calipers on the front, while the standard wheels are 20-inch alloys - one inch larger than what was offered on the Opel Insignia OPC.
The feature list is extensive. As with the recently re-introduced Astra, Holden has taken a "full fruit" approach with the Insignia VXR's spec sheet - the only option is metallic paint, for $550.
The Insignia also scores three firsts for Holden.
It's the first car to be sold under the badge with adaptive cruise control, lane change alert and auto emergency braking - features that weren't available in the Opel-badged insignia when it was sold here.
The rest of the equipment list is familiar, with sat nav, heated Recaro front seats, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, dual-zone climate control, bi-xenon headlamps, Holden's MyLink infotainment system, keyless entry and keyless ignition all standard.
That's in addition to other more prosaic features like dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, trip computer, AM/FM/CD headunit and Bluetooth phone/audio integration.
Watch for TMR's review of the Insignia VXR this week, and catch our earlier Opel Insignia OPC review here.
- 2015 Holden Insignia VXR - $51,990
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