Opel's new Insignia family car has been voted 2009 European Car of the Year by a one-point margin from Ford's Fiesta.
The Opel scored 321 points compared with the Fiesta's 320, with the Volkswagen Golf in third-place with 223 points. The were followed by the Citroen C5 (198 ); Alfa Romeo MiTo (148 ); Skoda Superb (144 ); and the Renault Megane (121 ).
The Insignia, which replaces the Vectra range, will be available here in two weeks. The estate version of the Insignia will go on sale in the spring badged the tourer. The rear luggage area is 540 litres, but when the rear seats are folded flat, that increases to 1,510. It can take loads of up to 1.91 metres.
Interestingly, two internal lights have had to be added within the boot space as it is necessary to meet roadside safety legislation with the hatch open because the rear lights are mounted on the tailgate.
The Opel Insignia, launched to the public at the London Motor Show in July, has received avid praise for its sporty silhouette, class-leading aerodynamics, and innovative technology. Opel sees the styling of the new 4.83 metre five-seater clearly expressing its strategy to make advanced technology and attractive design affordable.
All cars in the competition must be launched within the past 12 months, but strangely need only be on sale in a minimum of five European countries. Seven magazines from around Europe organise the ECOTY contest. Each publication takes it in turn to organise the vote, publicise, promote the contest, and hold the prize-giving ceremony.
The Insignia’s triumph marks the third win of this award for Opel. In 1985 the Astra won the title, followed two years later by the Omega. The Insignia succeeds the 2008 winner - the Fiat 500, which brought the total European Car of the Year titles won by Fiat Group Automobiles to 12.
A spokesman for Opel was encouraged by the win: "This is great news for GM/Opel and its employees, suppliers, and retailers. Opel has made great strides in recent years, particularly in design and dynamics, and the Insignia illustrates what we’re capable of achieving. It offers great quality and value in a prestige package that will provide an exceptional ownership experience to our customers."