Opel's new Insignia sets high standards

The new Opel Insignia, which arrives early next month, is much more than a refreshed mid-generation model. It delivers a level of engineering efficiency and a couple of other class-leading attributes that propels the Insignia past its major rivals, such as the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat, both of which have new model replacements arriving in the next 15 months.

The biggest change is highlighted by the new 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine with start/stop, which sees a power increase from 130PS to 140PS in the base-line unit. And at the same time the CO2 emissions drop to a remarkable 99g/km, with annual road tax of €180. In ideal conditions, fuel consumption falls to an incredible 3.7l/100km (76 mpg ), which makes it the most efficient engine in its class. Based on that fuel economy, Opel says this new version has a range of 1891 kilometres (or 1,175 miles ). Staying with the 2.0-litre engine, the higher output version gains 3PS to 163PS with no increase in fuel consumption or emissions.

From €24,995 for the S trim 1.4-litre turbo petrol, the likely best-selling version will be the S trim 2.0CDTi (140PS ) for € 26,995.

The entry level 1.4-litre, 140hp turbo petrol unit with start/stop returns just 5.2 l/100km (or 54mpg ) and 123g/km CO2, making the saloon and hatchback versions the most economical petrol model in its class. A new generation 1.6 turbo 170PS petrol engine, consuming 139g/km CO2 is added to complete the petrol line-up with the already established 1.4 turbo 140PS petrol unit.

All engines are available with a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a low-friction six-speed automatic gearbox.

I drove the 2.0-litre, 140 PS turbo diesel engine with start/stop extensively last week and I was impressed by the new interior, great driving position, and responsiveness of the up-powered engine. Modifications to rear axle components have also helped deliver higher levels of driving comfort and the overall driving experience is really impressive - so much so that it is difficult to believe it could be so economical.

While it is fair to say the new Insignia boosts evolutionary (rather than revolutionary ) exterior styling, it has evolved to gain the recognition of being the most aerodynamic car in its class worldwide. The new Insignia has exceptionally low Cd values of just below 0.25 and 0.28 for the Insignia hatchback and sports tourer respectively. An aero-shutter automatically closes the lower front grille to reduce aerodynamic drag, benefiting fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

And while still retaining distinctive Insignia styling cues like the “blade” along the side doors and the muscular, coupe-like stance, the New Insignia gets a new lower, wider front grille, reshaped headlights and new chrome decals in the lower front bumper. Front fog lights change from a square shape to round, projector-style units.

The newly designed cockpit with radically simplified control panel and two 8-inch colour displays (not standard on the entry-level model ) really looks the part. The highlight is the ground-breaking four-way infotainment operation possible via revolutionary touchpad in centre console (which supports handwriting recognition and haptic feedback ), 8-inch touchscreen, steering wheel controls or voice command. The user-friendly IntelliLink technology optimally integrates smartphone capabilities into the car.

The Insignia scored a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. And many options in the latest Insignia include ultra-modern radar and camera-based driver assistance and safety systems such as full speed adaptive cruise control and imminent collision breaking, rear camera, lane-change assistance, blind spot alert, and rear cross traffic alert.

The standard specification on the entry level 'S' level includes 16” alloy wheels, air conditioning, LED daytime running lights and taillights, cruise control with speed limiter, CD MP3 7-speaker stereo with 4.2” colour screen, USB and aux-in plugs and iPod control, leather steering wheel, electric height adjustment and lumbar control on driver’s seat, remote central locking, electric front windows and heated door mirrors, automatic lighting control, electric parking brake with hill start assist. Other higher spec levels versions include the 'SC', 'SE', 'SRi' Limited Edition and the 'Elite'.

The new Insignia model family features a choice of saloon, hatchback and sports tourer, as well as the country tourer, and finally the range-topping 2.8i 24v V6 turbo 4x4 OPC. The line-up covers a power bandwidth from 140hp to 325hp (from the OPC ).

The new country tourer is a stylish and dynamic model that a gentleman farmer or affluent suburban housewife would equally be happy to drive in their domains. With SUV character styling, including under-ride elements and wider fenders, it looks the part at reasonable cost.

And the OPC gets an even bolder appearance with re-styled front and rear and typical OPC design elements. These include items such as distinctive saber-tooth front detailing and integrated exhaust tailpipes.

In addition to the Insignia four-door prices, the new Insignia five-door price carries a premium of €600, and the new Insignia sports tourer carries a price premium over the four-door version of €1,800.

If in the market for a new D-segment, family size car, check out the latest Opel Insignia before making a decision. It certainly sets a high standard.



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