Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The VXR is powered by a 2.8-litre V6 engine that's also fitted with a turbocharger to boost power to 325bhp along with immense reserves of pulling power. It's an incredibly smooth unit that sounds great, especially on start-up, helped by a special stainless steel sports exhaust. It's the same engine that was used in the Vectra VXR and 0-60mph takes just 5.6 seconds (5.9 in the Sports Tourer), but oddly it never feels especially quick from a standstill.

It does build pace effortlessly though and is a refined rather than raw performance car, making it useable every day. Thanks to the standard four-wheel drive system, the Insignia is never unruly and manages to put all that power down cleanly and predictable. There's also no turbo lag, which means it's an easy car to drive quickly, yet smoothly. Strong in-gear acceleration makes it ideal for dual carriageway and motorway driving too.

The one drawback is fuel economy. At less than 25mpg, the Insignia VXR is thirsty, although few cars with this much power are particularly efficient. Only one gearbox is available - the standard six-speed transmission which is not especially slick or enjoyable to use.

Unlike previous VXR models, the Insignia feels much more grown up and manages to blend a comfortable ride with neat handling. As it comes with four-wheel drive, there is always plenty of traction, giving you extra confidence in corners, especially in the wet. There's also very little body roll, yet the suspension is forgiving and doesn't crash over bumps.

This is helped by the standard FlexRide system which adapts the car's damping along with the steering and throttle response. There are three different modes which can be chosen. The Standard setting is perfect for every day driving while Sport tightens things slightly and reduces body roll. But the VXR mode is the best for twisting roads, making the steering more direct, the throttle noticeably more responsive and the suspension firmer.

However, one disappointment is the steering. Even in VXR mode, while it's very responsive, it lacks weight and feel, so you never feel truly involved from behind the wheel.