Caught In The Classifieds: 2014 Vauxhall Insignia VXR
In this weekís ďCaught in the ClassifiedsĒ, weíve got one of the most underrated performance saloons ever made. If youíre in the market for an ultra-fast, ultra-luxurious German saloon, youíre probably looking at Audi S4s or BMW 335is. Apart from the already-established German trio, thereís a third, more lucrative option if youíre after something a little bit more special: Vauxhallís infamous Insignia VXR. This incredible example has 70,000 miles on the clock and comes in at a shade under £11,000, making it one of the best deals currently advertised on Desperate Seller.
The first-gen Insignia is a great-looking car. When it made its debut back in 2008, it instantly brought Opel, and subsequently Vauxhall, back on the radar for a lot of people. Thereís an episode of Top Gear where both James May and Jeremy Clarkson express their sympathies towards the new Insignia. The first-gen Insignia was, for all intents and purposes, a saving grace for Opel and Vauxhall.
Visually, the standard Insignia has a rather conservative styling, but it was still a lot more interesting than the equivalent C-Class or Audi A4 at the time. Itís one of those rare cars where the front actually matches the rear, which you donít see all that often nowadays. Then, however, came the VXR edition, and boy did it bring the best out of the Insignia chassis.
Thereís no mistaking a VXR for an ordinary Insignia, no matter what angle youíre looking at it from. The body is noticeably wider, with flared arches both front and rear to accommodate bespoke VXR wheels and wider rubber. The front bumper is all-new, with two fang-like air dams on either side. Itís got lower, more aggressive side skirts too, to go along with the lowered ride height.
The rear is just as menacing as the front. Itís got two exhaust outlets and a reshaped bumper with a small diffuser in the middle. The car sits visibly lower than a standard VXR, and itís got a large VXR badge on the boot in case you havenít figured out itís not an ordinary Insignia. By all accounts, this is an amazing piece of design, and according to a lot of people, the first-gen Insignia is smarter-looking than the second-gen which replaced it in 2017.
Apart from exterior styling, the Insignia brought a lot of changes to the way Vauxhall thought of cabin design. The Insignia felt more upscale and luxurious than anything else Vauxhall had built prior to it. They spared no expense in choosing high-quality materials and making sure the fit and finish are up to par to their German counterparts. As such, everything you touch and feel in the Insignia feels soft and plush. This is a 6-year-old car now, and even though you can tell itís a little bit dated compared to newer cars in certain areas, pitch it against a similarly-aged Audi A4 or Mercedes C Class, and it feels just as expensive.
The driving position is superb, mostly because you sit nice and low in the car, giving you a better connection to the road. The seats are comfortable but surprisingly supportive, almost as supportive as something youíd expect to find in a fully-fledged RS or AMG. The steering wheel is a great three-spoke design too, perfectly suitable for spirited driving. If I have one criticism, it would be directed towards the rather dull-looking instrument cluster. It does its job just fine and itís clear to understand, but they should have done something more special since this is their flagship model.
As far as comfort goes, the Insignia is easily more spacious than a 3-Series or a C Class. Itís somewhere between a BMW 3 Series and a BMW 5 Series practicality-wise, which is a great size for a small family or even a daily commuter. The boot is big enough for most peopleís needs, and the rear seats can accommodate three full-sized adults for short to medium journeys.
Engine and Performance
When it comes to performance, the VXR is probably most similar to Audiís S4. Under the bonnet youíll find a 2.8-litre turbocharged V6, producing a healthy 321 horsepower and 321 lb-ft of torque. Thatís just ten horsepower and four lb-ft of torque less than the S4, but the S4 is supercharged whereas the VXR is turbocharged, making it feel faster.
Power is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed manual (six-speed auto was optional), but the system sends up to 90 per cent of that power to the front wheels in normal use to reduce fuel economy. Push the VXR button and the split is a much more reasonable 60/40, front to back respectively, giving the Insignia a planted yet playful feel.
The sprint to 60 mph takes roughly 6 seconds, but unlike most of its German rivals, the VXR isnít limited to 155 mph. Itíll top out at 170 mph, which is mightily impressive for a mid-size performance saloon.
As a driverís car, the Insignia isnít as sharp as a 3-Series, but you can still have fun on a twisty road. Ultimately, itíll understeer at the limit, which is very similar to how the S4 behaves, but the VXRís range of abilities is so vast youíll struggle to phase it on the public highway. Unless youíre pushing jail-time speeds, the VXR feels as fast and secure as a car ever should.
Why you should buy one
If Iím honest, Iím slightly baffled why Vauxhall didnít sell as many VXR models as they initially hoped they would. By all accounts, this is a great car. Itís fast, itís practical, itís reasonably economical, and itís modestly cheap to run for its class. On the bright side, the fact that it isnít as popular as an Audi or a BMW means you can find some absolute bargains like the one weíve highlighted here. Unless youíre a badge snob or you want rear-wheel drive in the form of a BMW 335i, you have to at least give the VXR a go. Itís not for everyone, but itís so different and rare you might just fall in love with it. Interested? Then head over to DesperateSeller.co.uk where you'll find plenty of used Vauxhall Insignia cars for sale.
DesperateSeller.co.uk rating: 8 out of 10
View the car here: 2014 Vauxhall Insignia - £10,995