We all know about General Motors’ European troubles, where the Opel and Vauxhall brands operate. While GM posted a global profit last month of $2.3bn, compared with $2.2bn for the same period last year, losses in its European market could reach $1.8bn, up from $300m in 2011.
The company will shed around 2,600 staff across Europe this year, 200 of those in the UK, although it has promised to save the Ellesmere Port factory where the next-generation Astra will be built.
It’s not as if GM don’t sell some very competitive cars, but with overcapacity due to economic decline in the troubled Eurozone, they have little choice but to resize and retrench.
So, it may seem a slightly odd time to launch the company’s fastest model.
The new Insignia VXR SuperSport replaces current Insignia VXR, but with its speed limiter removed can now reach 170mph – an increase of 15mph over its predecessor.
Despite the VXR SuperSport’s increased top speed, it costs £3,760 less than the outgoing car at £29,995.
Vauxhall has offered the ‘Unlimited’ option on the Insignia VXR since 2011, where for £250 they remove the ‘regular’ 155mph restrictor, fit a newly-designed tachometer and speedometer to show its increased potential, and apply a blue Brembo logo on its front brake callipers.
Sounds like an attractive marketing ploy – providing the customer with more for less – until we hear how Vauxhall are promoting their new flagship VXR model, “more power and a higher top speed than any other UK production car costing less than £30,000.”
The VXR SuperSport is powered by Vauxhall’s 2.8-litre V6 Turbo ECOTEC engine, producing 320bhp, and accelerates from 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds. With its standard all-wheel drive and electric differentials, the VXR tips the scales at 1810kg for the saloon rising to 1940kg for the Sports Tourer.
The company singles out BMW’s 135i M Sport as comparison, which is the outgoing version produced only in 1 Series Coupé form (at £32,150). However the new 1 Series, offers a 315bhp M135i (at £29,995) which scampers to 60mph in just 4.9 seconds and would therefore show a pretty clean pair of heels to the 300kg heavier Insignia VXR.
In a nation where our speed limit is 70mph and where the difference between 155mph and 170mph amounts to little more than bragging rights, perhaps we should just focus on the fact that Vauxhall have cut nearly £4,000 from its range-topping Insignia VXR, making it even more of a temptation for people who need a family-friendly sports saloon.