GM HOLDEN is courting a number of all-wheel drive rivals with the return of the
Insignia nameplate to Australia this month, chiefly the Subaru Liberty 3.6R as
well as Volkswagen CC buyers.
As announced in May, the Holden Insignia VXR is $8000 cheaper than its Opel
Insignia OPC predecessor at $51,990 plus on-road costs, despite the all-wheel
drive performance sedan – the company’s first – gaining a fresh look and other
changes as part of its mid-cycle makeover.
While that puts the Insignia VXR at a $10,000 deficit compared with the Liberty
3.6R Premium, it costs $15,000 less than the Volkswagen CC V6 FSI that is also
built in Germany.
Speaking with media at the Insignia VXR's launch in New Zealand this week, GM
Holden executive director of marketing Geraldine Davys said the performance
sedan offers buyers more than the two main rivals.
“It puts the Insignia VXR neatly between the two,” she said, “…but we
absolutely win when it comes to power, torque, technology, and safety.”
The Insignia trumps its stated rivals by offering Adaptive Front Lighting with
auto high-beam functionality and 20-inch rather than 18-inch alloys as
standard, while the VXR also tops the VW CC with lane-departure warning and
radar-guided adaptive cruise control. Some of these features are firsts for
While Holden director of communications Sean Poppitt declined
to talk sales projections and expectations, he revealed that it will play a key
role in the rebuilding of Holden’s image, battered by declining overall volume,
and poor receptions for its recent mid-size offerings out of South Korea, the
Malibu as well as the Epica that preceded it.
“It is going to be niche, and we’re not going to sell hundreds of thousands of
these,” Mr Poppitt said. “But it is important to help redefine the brand… with
technology and refinement and the fact the Insignia is a European sports sedan…
it is as much about brand as it is about sales.”
Holden has also confirmed that no liftback or wagon versions of the VXR will be
offered in Australia, despite their availability in Europe.
Heavily based on the original Opel Insignia OPC (for Opel Performance Centre)
that was only available for about six months from early 2013, the Holden
version is the Series II facelift that debuted at the Frankfurt motor show
later on during that same year.
The changes are mostly cosmetic, bringing sleeker headlights, different
bumpers, front mudguards, bonnet, and air intakes up front, and revamped
tail-lights, boot lid, and diffuser out back.
A cleaner centre console design, with fewer buttons and a larger and more
sophisticated centre touchscreen, dominates the facelift inside, although the
Insignia’s instrument cluster has also been overhauled with a combination
analogue/digital dials and gauges, while fresh trim and materials also
Mechanically much carries over from the old OPC, but Holden says there has been
some tweaks to the suspension tune.
Additionally, an electrical systems overhaul means more advanced driver
assistance systems are standard, including Holden-first adaptive cruise
control, lane change alert, and auto emergency braking, while blind-spot and
rear cross-traffic alerts also make the single-grade VXR.
Powering the VXR is a Holden-built 2.8-litre double overhead cam 24-valve V6
with a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection, delivering 239kW of power
and 435Nm torque peaks between 1900-4000rpm.
Fitted with a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission – no manual
gearbox is available – the 1836kg Holden uses almost half a litre more fuel
than its Opel predecessor, averaging an official 11.3 litres per 100
kilometres, while emitting 264 grams of carbon dioxide.
No official performance figures have been published, but it is expected that
the VXR will come very close to matching the OPC’s 0-100km/h time of 6.3
Drive is delivered to all four wheels via a Haldex adaptive part-time all-wheel
drive system, shuffling between zero and 100 per cent of torque from the front
to the rear wheels as traction needs require, via an electronic limited slip
Assisting grip and control through corners is what Holden calls its HiPerStrut
high performance MacPherson strut front suspension system, with a kingpin
inclination reduced by nine degrees and spindle length shortened to 44mm
compared with the conventional Insignia sedan’s item. The rear features a
multi-link arrangement, while the rack and pinion steering is an
There are also stiffer springs and bushings, thicker anti roll bars, and Flex
Ride – a three-mode electronic damper control system offering Normal, Sport and
‘VXR’ modes; each progressively works on the engine’s throttle, transmission
shift pattern, steering, and AWD system to either sharpen responses, increase
steering weight, resist body roll, or harden the ride.
Brembo brakes wash away speed, in the form of an 18-inch booster with larger
ventilated and cross-drilled discs (355mm x 32mm) and four-piston callipers up
front; it also features ‘floating disc’ technology, for reduced unsprung mass.
Pirelli P Zero 255/35ZR20 tyres are fitted on standard 20-inch alloys, with the
spare being an inflator kit.
Standard features include a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors,
six airbags, stability and traction controls, anti-lock brakes, cornering brake
control, hydraulic brake-fade assist, trailer sway control, breakaway pedals,
tyre-pressure monitors, and adaptive forward lighting with bi-Xenon headlamps
and LED daytime running lamps.
Recaro front sports seats with electric assistance with memory modes for the
driver, auto headlights and wipers, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning,
leather upholstery, front seat heating with cushion extensions, satellite
navigation, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, cruise control,
and an 8.0-inch touchscreen display with GM’s most up-to-date MyLink
The boot can carry up to 500 litres, while folding the split rear backrest ups
that to 1015 litres.