Show stars are sometimes difficult to define but General Motors Europe’s Opel/Vauxhall Insignia was definitely one of them at the 2008 British International Motor Show opening in July.
Replacing the worthy but unexceptional Vectra, GME decided to brave a sector shift and move the new Insignia toward the premium category in an equal, or even more determined, way than Ford has done with the latest Mondeo.
Produced initially in four-door notchback and five-door hatchback forms in Germany, the car boasts all-wheel-drive versions and a scheduled "green" diesel low-CO2 variant.
The car’s aesthetics are distinctive, with a pronounced rear- end stance and a coupe-esque tumblehome to its roofline. Its flanks carry a clear echo of the "blade" styling of the concept GTC seen at previous motor shows. Its aerodynamic Cd is an excellent 0.27.
The Insignia is about 220 mm (8.7 in) longer at 4830 mm (190.1 in) on a 2737-mm (107.8-in) wheelbase and some 150 kg (330 lb) heavier than the Vectra it replaces. Its technology list also includes a FCS (Front Camera System) that can read and memorize road signs; a lane-departure-warning system; and a new generation of adaptive lighting with nine settings to meet specific road conditions.
GME used UK roads as the benchmark for ride and handling criteria. Front suspension is a subframe-mounted MacPherson strut arrangement with dual-path top mountings and a sophisticated four-link setup at the rear. GME paid great attention to damper settings, and the standard FlexRide system on 4x4 versions has "intelligent" capability but also offers driver selection to provide specific performance envelope parameters.
Gasoline engines are direct injection, the top version being a 2.8-L V6. There are two 2.0-L diesels of 95 and 117 kW (127 and 157 hp), respectively.
The Insignia’s basic design philosophy is expected to become identified with other GM products globally.