Just when you thought there was nobody else entering the all-wheel-drive turbo market, Holden comes out of nowhere with the new Insignia VXR turbo.

Like any Kiwi or Aussie, you’ll know that Holden has been producing large-capacity rear-wheel-drive sedans for a very long time. This has been the company's main seller and has influenced the likes of Bathurst for years. However, Holden has just recently announced the arrival of their first ever turbocharged all-wheel-drive sedan — an interesting concept for the Australian-based brand.

An interesting launch for Holden, yes, but not when you hear of the Insignia VXR’s origin. Based on the Vauxhall/Opel VXR, the Holden version has simply been re-adged and tweaked to suit our market. What this means for the local consumer is that you’re buying German quality and technology as opposed to Australian. Is this a good thing or not?

For decades the Holden Commodore has been praised for its reliability and simplicity. The V6 3800cc engine remained unchanged for years until the capacity was decreased to 3600cc, and when the switch was made to the uber-reliable General Motors (GM) LS-series engines for the V8 Commodores, reliability increased even more. So what will the introduction of a smaller-capacity turbocharged German engine entail? We’re all aware of how worthless older European vehicles are due to their expensive maintenance bills and tendency to require constant maintenance.

However, as a new vehicle, and one that is exciting for Holden as they make a move towards this new technology, we can assure you it’s one little rocket ship. The 2800cc V6 produces a very impressive 239kW (321hp) at the flywheel and a V8-like 435Nm of torque. Power is transmitted to the wheels via the six-speed automatic all-wheel-drive transmission. The 0–100km/h times are rated at six seconds flat. The VXR is packed full of features too, like the 20-inch alloys, heated Recaro leather bucket-style seats, FlexRide suspension, satellite navigation, and plenty of other German wizardry. There are a few features which will be a first for the brand too, such as adaptive cruise control, lane-change alert, and auto emergency braking. With three modes, the VXR has a setting for every situation. The three settings, standard, sport, and VXR, allow you to fine-tune steering response, accelerator response, suspension stiffness, and a more rear-wheel-drive differential bias.

It’s good news that vehicle manufacturers the world over are producing more turbocharged vehicles. With Ford introducing the turbocharged EcoBoost Mustang this year, we might even see them release an all-wheel-drive turbocharged sedan to combat the VXR.

René Vermeer

Dutch, French, or just a Kiwi, René isn’t quite sure, but he does know he has a passion for Japanese vehicles like no other. A well-seasoned Gran Turismo player dating back to his single-digit days, René has a comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of performance vehicles and has owned more than 30 performance cars here in New Zealand, ranging from Nissans to Hondas. A lover of photography, you’ll find him either peeping under someone’s bonnet to snap a detailed shot, or on the side of the racetrack, perfecting his panning.