Opel Insignia OPC/Vauxhall Insignia VXR is it as good as an M3?

By Philip Hedderman

Don’t be fooled by it’s coy exterior and fluffy cotton white paintwork for this is indeed a savage beast.
Yes folks, at first glance it may look like an ordinary 1.4 litre Insignia with an outrageous set of alloys on her, but beware.
In fact, be afraid as the Exocet missile you see before you is the Insignia OPC – a speed demon so potent it doffs its cap only to he the mighty M5.

Bold words, I hear you say? … but words have nothing to do with it. The OPC rap sheet says it all beginning with the most serious – under the hood.

She’s packing;
a 2.8 litre turbocharged V6;
0-100kph in under 6 seconds;
Top speed of 250 (and unrestricted an eye-watering 300kph);
and constant all-wheel drive;

All the ingredients you need to make a nuclear bomb.
So why, oh why did they call it the OPC?
It sounds more like an embarrassing medical condition than a high-performance pocket rocket.

Now, muscle cars should get pumped-up names like, GT, SRi, RS, GTi or even God forbid, FQ (the chav versions of the Mitsubishi Evo were called and far too rude to translate here).

Across the water in the UK Vauxhall Christened this beast the VXR which sounds infinitely sexier than OPC.
And the irony is – it’s not even remotely PC.

In fact, if it were a bloke it’d be a beer swillin’, lothario who’d call you darlin’ and gorgeous while pinching your bottom at every opportunity.

Thankfully it doesn’t look that slobbish in the flesh and a couple of subtle changes like the front chrome fangs (which were completely lost on the white test model) and 20’inch alloys are a bit of a giveaway.

The keener eye though will immediately notice the 355mm perforated brake discs running under the Brembo callipers – hinting at its proper pedigree.

A quaint spoiler at the rear, and sunken triangular chrome exhausts is further evidence.

Climb inside though and it’s quite a different story.

As soon as your tush hits the leather Recaro bucket seats you begin to realise that this is a serious piece of kit.

There are gentle little reminders of its potency with the OPC logo emblazoned on the colour infotainment screen, on the leather gear knob and running repeatedly in the backround of the sunken clocks.

The chunky steering and black headlining add a sinister touch almost warning you to be extra vigilant.

Turn the key and you’ll know exactly why.

The throaty rasp of the 2.8 litre V6 sounds like a chain-smoking lion clearing his throat first thing in the morning.

It sounds like it should – intimidating – and the more you pump her the more aggressive it gets.

(A little bird tells me that a team of acoustic engineers worked specifically on the exhaust baffles to give it a distinctive roar.)

But under the bonnet there is no sleight of hand or cheap marketing gimmick – just raw power and plenty of it.

Drop the hammer and within five seconds your face begins to peel off as the the revs climb.

 And because she’s 4 wheel drive there is no wheelspin and no wrestling the steering when taking her full throttle out of a corner.

The grip is astounding and the giant Pirellis anchor her to the ground – even on damp greasy roads.

Opel’s three-stage Flexiride system also allows the driver to select different settings Normal, Sport and the completely bonkers OPC/VXR.

In madness mode the on-board computer modifies the steering  throttle and suspension making them  stiffer, sharper and more responsive and all while the dash lights turn chrimson red.

 For the first time also in the OPC goody bag, the Adaptive 4×4 system and its electronic rear limited slip differential (eLSD) are standard.

All this gives you road handling which is  is second to none  but there is a lack of feedback  from the steering feel even if she corners like a monorail.

So what’s the downside?

The transmission is a bit woolly and you’ll find the six-speed box running out of puff quite quickly – especially with the foot down.

The electronic handbrake drove mad at time seeing the driver constantly fiddling as it engages and disengages in its own little bloody timezone.

 But the biggest injustice to this fine car is the beer mat (tax disc) in the window – which will set you back an obscene €2,258 a year.

A name change wouldn’t go astray and if Opel insist on an acronym then maybe they should consider WMD (weapon of mass destruction)?

The Opel Insignia OPC costs €54,535.

The Vauxhall Insignia VXR costs £30,995.

See Opel.ie, http://www.facebook.com/Opel or follow them on twitter @Opel for more details.