Has today’s Vauxhall Insignia GSi news put you in the mood for a fast Vauxhall bargain? Either way, let us try to tempt you with a 321bhp V6 Insignia for less than £9000. It’s a stylishly understated hot saloon with six cylinders and rarity on its side.
The venerable 2.8-litre V6 at the heart of this fetching Arden Blue Insignia VXR has its design origins going back a couple of decades, but this turbocharged effort is the key to a surprisingly refined gentleman’s express. If that gentleman comes from Essex, anyway. Vauxhall quotes a 0-62mph time of 6.0 seconds – one tenth faster than the contemporary BMW 330i – and a theoretical top speed north of 170mph if you remove the limiter. It’s manual, too.
This VXR never quite feels as quick as its power figure suggests, but it likes to be worked hard. Keep your foot down past 4000rpm and the engine begins to come to life a little on its way up to peak power at a low 5250rpm, but a surprising emphasis on refinement over raw performance makes this relaxed brute something of a disappointment in the noise stakes. Not that such a thing should put you off, because it’s still a handy all-weather weapon thanks to four-wheel drive and so much cornering grip that both your eyes could end up on the same side of your nose. That’s if it still wears the proper Pirelli tyres, anyway.
The weight of the big V6 block at the front means the Insignia always defaults to understeer when you do find the limits, but most of the time it just offers punchy performance and continent-crossing comfort. Even the optional and lovely 20-inch wheels on this car don’t stop it being plush.
For your £8989 (a massive £6 saving over the windscreen price) you get an eight-year-old VXR saloon from early in the Insignia’s production life. It’s covered just 42,000 miles, so it’s practically showroom-fresh. Park your cheeks on half-leather Recaro sports seats and gaze upon the colour widescreen sat-nav unit. There’s cruise control, climate control, automatic windscreen wipers and DAB radio.
Running costs might be a bit of a stumbling block, with a £535 annual road tax bill stemming from the awkwardly high 268g/km emissions. Fuel economy is, Vauxhall says, about 24.7mpg on average, but 20mpg seems like a realistic best-case real-world scenario. From £31,000 new in 2009, this has obviously lost a pretty penny in value, but that slippery slope should be less steep going forward. It’s an interesting alternative to the German norm, even if a previous owner of dubious taste has swapped the Vauxhall badge for a stylised Opel alternative… but only at the front.