The German general
GM’S Opel brand launches here next week. We get an exclusive first drive of the range-topping Insignia sedan
sedan to start about $39,000— or right on Passat money. The up-spec Select variant is likely to be about $45,000.
They share a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine— a turbo diesel of the same displacement will probably be $2000 more— and the wagon is similarly expected to be a $2000 premium over the sedan.
Standard gear on the top model tested by includes 19-inch alloys, sevenspeaker sound system, dualzone climate control, seveninch infotainment display, satnav and automatic lights and wipers.
The seats are heated and cooled and are the only production car pews officially approved by the German chiropractic association to help your back— although there is only electric assistance for lumbar support and vertical adjustment.
This is the 2009 European Car of the Year and for very good reason.
The engine is crisp, the transmission smooth and there are enough software tweaks to satisfy first-adopter technophiles.
European cars have the option of all-wheel drive and that is expected to appear here in the performance OPC model — if and when Opel Australia announces we’re getting the halo variant.
A FlexRide’’ adaptive damping system will be an option. The system can be manually adjusted from sport to tour, or left in auto to map its own settings based on the driver and car’s behaviour. Not that there’s anything wrong with the basic package.
The sweeping roofline on the Insignia sedan almost entitles it to four-door coupe status but rear headroom is better than those vehicles. A boot lip spoiler will be standard on Aussie models but was missing from our preproduction drive and the cluttered centre console on our test car will be simplified with an infotainment controller between the front seats.
The wraparound look that extends to the doors is slick, unlike the controls on the steering column stalks, which suffer from the fact they’re shared with the unloved Holden Epica. But that is one of the few areas where the Opel shows its age as a 2008 model, along with the lack of stowage options for the junk most people pack in to a car these days.
The upside is that the 500-litre boot should satisfy most owners’ haulage needs and there’s always the wagon for those wanting greater load capacity.
Euro NCAP says the Insignia is a five-star car for safety. All variants have six airbags, electronic stability and traction control linked to the ABS and four-way active headrests, along with seat belt reminders for both front occupants.
The biggest criticism of the car from the crash-testing group was for its pedestrian safety— the sheep who invite disaster by ignoring road rules while walking with buds in their ears might want to stroll in front of something else. Like a bicycle.
The Insignia’s date with a television camera meant
couldn’t push its dynamics to the limit. Something about paint chip not looking good in the laun commercial.
As it transpired, we didn’ need to— the chassis and suspension are right up ther