Blessed as we were with its presence for an additional month, the Holden Insignia VXR is still kicking around the CarAdvice garage and serving its purpose happily enough. The initial excitement phase of getting a new car has worn off and we’re now well and truly getting to know the ins and outs of our imported Commodore.
One thing that comes as a big shock coming from a locally grown Commodore is the fuel consumption. Wow. Naturally, you’d assume that a smaller displacement six-cylinder turbocharged unit would sip less fuel than a stonking great V8 – but you’d be wrong.
We’re regularly seeing fuel figures between 12 and 16L/100km, and can report a travel distance of sometimes less than 400 kilometres to a tank of petrol. And it’s not a small fuel tank either.
On some recent country drives, the figure did come down to a more reasonable 10 litres per 100km. And it actually tours well across our wide expansive country (read: state of Victoria). We were concerned that the exhaust might have a tendency to drone on a freeway at 100km/h, but it’s not a problem as the car quietens down when not being pushed. Tyre noise is kept to a minimum and the wind rushes by without so much as a flutter.
The ride is firm going over bumps, however on a motorway there’s no problem as the car ebbs and flows with the road. We’ll be honest and say that it’s not as good as a Commodore at eating up highway miles, however for something that has no local tuning, and is marketed as a sports car, it's pretty decent.
Over a few weekend trips, the 496-litre boot swallows up at least two suitcases and accompanying soft bags. There’s ample leg room in the back for last minute tag-alongs and the inclusion of Apple CarPlay into the infotainment system makes it easy for everybody to be a DJ using Apple’s music interface.
It all sounds fine and dandy as a car for both the mid-week rush and for something to adventure in over the weekend. But, its immediate segment rivals – in the shape of the Subaru Liberty 3.6R and Toyota Aurion Sportivo – both possess acres of space and grand touring ability. So what does the Insignia VXR bring to the table that’s exciting and a point of difference?
Well, there’s not a lot, to be honest. Don’t get us wrong, we are happy custodians of our Insignia, but there’s simply no X-factor that begs our attention. The formula has been done before. Hands rarely shoot up in the CarAdvice office at the end of the week when the Insignia is assigned for the weekend – in fact, it's often one of the last cars to allocated to a person, usually accompanied by a sarcastic “… thanks!”
There’s no one thing alone that spoils the car, but you can easily reel off a list of aspects that you would change, should you be designing the next generation Insignia. Things like the dull and sluggish engine performance which simply should not be the case for a 2.8-litre twin-scroll turbocharged six cylinder engine with 240kW of power and 435Nm of torque. Or the slow-to-respond and jerky six-speed automatic transmission, which is never ‘at-the-ready’ when you want it to be and is constantly tripping over itself. The ergonomics of the cabin, too, like having to stretch and reach across the entire dash interface to put it into VXR mode or using the dual-zone climate control, with its unresponsive touchpad controls.
There are just a lot of little issues that, when combined, actually amplify potential ownership issues.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, though. We’ve had fun pitting it against its performance claims and taking it out to a track day. Some of its most impressive drives have been either on a wet racetrack or a drenched twisty road. The way the car can stick to a line through a corner or send torque efficiently to all four wheels when needed, without a hint of a traction control, is quite remarkable.
In terms of reliability, we haven’t noticed many problems yet. Worth mentioning though is on occasional full lock of the steering wheel, the steering rack can vibrate and send out a groan. The Brembo brakes do a great job of stopping the car, but in heavy use such as traffic, they can squeal a bit.
For now, it remains a trusty steed of the CarAdvice stable. Not so much mindblowing and astonishing, but always ready to be called up to service to ferry people where they need to go quickly and in comfort.
Click on the Photos tab for more 2016 Holden Insignia VXR images by Tom Fraser.
2016 Holden Insignia VXR
Date acquired: April 2015
Odometer reading: 6807km
Travel since previous update: 3531km
Consumption since previous update: 13.5L/100km