Holden’s decision to pick the Queenstown region for the launch of its Insignia VXR sports sedan this week was obvious for a number of reasons.
The Insignia VXR is part of the GM Holden’s European fleet that it will be introducing to the Australasian market in the next few years.
Already this year we’ve seen the Astra hatchback and the Cascade convertibles for sale here. And now the formerly Opel branded Insignia heads to New Zealand dealerships, including the all-wheel-drive VXR model.
The company decided to use the Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground at Cardrona to show off the performance and AWD capabilities of the Insignia VXR on snow.
But nature was playing favour this week too, with the Aurora Australis nocturnal light show on display in the area during the Australasian media launch.
Holden NZ (and it’s Australia colleagues) should take the light show as a good omen for the VXR – the sports sedan shows its European pedigree to the fore in wintery conditions.
Priced at $69,990, Holden’s first AWD turbo sports sedan is paired with an Australian-built 2.8-litre V6 engine producing 239kW of power and 435Nm of torque.
The six-speed auto Insignia VXR has three performance settings: standard, sport and VXR. It also comes with adaptive cruise control, lane change alert, blind sport monitoring and FlexRide suspension, that showed its smooth abilities on the icy drive from the Queenstown luxury lodge, Matakauri to Glenorchy and return.
But the large performance sedan showed its real abilities on the snow at the SHPG – with traction control turned off (don’t try this at home) and VXR mode dialed in.
The GM Holden instructors used the day to teach the Australasian media the importance of ABS braking, swerving at speed – and the fun stuff, how to drift around in a circle (demonstrating over- and understeer), then teaching us the Scandinavian Flick, a rally driving technique.
Basically we had to ‘flick’ the rear of the sedan by sharply turning the steering wheel left then turn right and use the momentum to ‘drift’ around a corner.
While the exercise was tremendous fun, it also highlighted the safety driving tips of looking where you want to go, not where you’re going; and if in doubt brake.
One Australian colleague instead applied the rule if in doubt, power out as he misjudged the Scandinavian Flick and instead launched the Insignia VXR 10 car lengths away from the coned driving area and into a snow bank, damaging the car.