The INSIGNIA of Attraction

Not a white elephant at all, but a very attractive, stylish car, cleverly equipped with hightech.

Not a white elephant at all, but a very attractive, stylish car, cleverly equipped with hightech. The new Insignia notchback.

Opel: Made in Germany

“We need to regain confidence and impart the fullest passion. We need to polish the Lightning Bolt to the highest gloss.” These words, spoken only six months ago by Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann when he had just assumed the position of CEO, were part of his welcome address to the Opel employees. Right from the outset he wished to give them clear-cut guidelines and a vision as to where Opel is heading from now on.

No sooner had he voiced his mission than positive actions started. Opel is not only revising its component and engine plant in Kaiserslautern (Rhineland-Palatinate), investing a lump sum of roughly 130 million Euro, the car manufacturer has embarked on launching no less than 23 new models and 13 new engines in the coming years. Opel and its employees have always been a proud, tough and ambitious brand, which is probably one reason why the company has managed to survive prolonged years of dire straits and hardship.

Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, CEO and an engineer with verve, zest and a clear vision.

Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, CEO and an engineer. A man with a wide and friendly smile and full of verve, zest and a clear vision.

The car that is already profiting from all these renewals and changes is no less than Opel’s flagship, the Insignia. Neumann emphasises: “Our flagship is now more sophisticated and eye-catching – but even in the midst of all this elegance, don’t forget what it’s all about: to offer dirvers and passengers a comfortable and safe driving experience with state-of-the-art technologiey at a very attractive price.” Well said. The price for the Insignia starts at 24,130 EUR for the four-door notchback (Opel) or 18,040 GBP (Vauxhall). Thus illustrating value for money in the C-segment where it is competing with premium brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder models. And for its passengers the Insignia might genuinely prove a welcome understatement.

Ready for Take-off… and Rising Sales Figures

The Insignia story started in 2008, its name signalling membership of rank in the business class segment. The car has indeed proven an outright success right from the start. Since its inauguration, well over 600,000 first-generation Opel Insignia have so far been sold.

Paving the way to success with the 2nd generation Insignia.

Paving the way to success with the 2nd generation of the flagship, the Insignia.

The Insignia is the Opel flagship, The “Opelans” have dubbed it “a positive attention grabber with technical substance”. More than ever, the totally revamped second generation Insignia follows the multi-award-winning new Opel design philosophy of “sculptural artistry meeting German precision”. Such is the metal that winners are made of. No doubt about it, Opel is ready for take off. The little Opel Adam is already doing extremely well in the fashion-led A segment. As from now on the flagship, too, can show its popularity and prowess in sales figures.

The second Insignia generation made its debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, before going on sale on 28 September. It comes in a variety of five models, namely as four-door notchback, i.e. saloon, as five-door hatchback, Sports Tourer and as OPC super model.

The Insignia Country Tourer benefits from all-wheel drive as standard.

Demonstrates off road prowess: The Insignia Country Tourer benefits from adaptive all-wheel drive as standard.

Moreover, the Country Tourer has been added as a new family member. With it Opel and Vauxhall are offering a crossover vehicle that works both on the road and offroad, and as such is competing with Audi (A4 Allroad and also A6 Allroad) and the VW Passat “Alltrack”. The latest addition to the Opel range has three powerful turbo engines with up to 400 Nm torque. At any rate, the Country Tourer has more horsepower than the Passat ”Alltrack” – be it the 184 kW/250 hp, 2.0-liter SIDI direct injection gasoline unit, the  high-performance 2.0 BiTurbo CDTI with 143 kW/195 hp, or the 2.0 CDTI with 120 kW/163 hp. The choice is between five Diesel, four petrol engines, ranging from 120 to 325 hp, added to which one can opt for Autogas.

Simultaneously, these engines deliver impressive fuel economy numbers. No doubt about it, this crossover vehicle with its Flex Ride chassis has been a clever, if long overdue step by the Opel and Vauxhall management. Compact crossover models have become all the rage. It is easily predictable that in this segment, the Insignia Country Tourer will be hugely successful as “all in one” vehicle at an acceptable price.

With this car besides answering the demands of faithful fans, Opel will attract a new clientele. Thus, the Country Tourer is a valuable addition to the Opel portfolio. The crossover vehicle with its attractive wrap-around design will fill the gap for car enthusiasts with a strong bias towards Opel who are convinced by the value-for-money pricing, but have so far not been presented with a car by their OEM that can just as easily leave the beaten track to confront unforeseeable challenges offroad. Sales of the Country Tourer Wagon will start in 2014.

The Country Tourer has special styling and benefits from all-wheel drive as standard.

The Country Tourer has been given several upgrades and special styling features.

Success with the Opel Mokka in the sub-compact SUV segment has already proved Opel right and has demonstrated the popularity of crossover vehicles. “Now the high quality of our brand flagship can be spiced up with a strong dose of adventure, too”, explains CEO Neumann.

Success be to the Courageous

The Insignia is a statement of defiance of market moods. With its launch the Opel team has demonstrated courage, especially as they have come out with a mid-sized family car designed for a European clientele at times when Europe’s economy is still rather weak.

On the road of success. The Opel Insignia boasts several benchmarks.

Ticked off for success. The Opel Insignia boasts several benchmarks.

Not so the Opel sales figures. The outlook is positive: In September Opel managed to sell 13 per cent more vehicles in its home market Germany than in the same month of the previous year. That is a good start into the autumn and end of year rally equalling more than 19,000 newly sold Opel passenger cars, resulting in a market share of 7.79 per cent. In fact, the manufacturer with headquarters in Rüsselsheim (Rhineland-Palatinate) has managed to stabilise its market share in Germany at 7.1 per cent. And the future looks auspicious, not least due to the jazzed up and enlarged model range. The Insignia may still not be the most thrilling car, but its complete overhaul has made an incredible difference, both as regards the physical appearance of the mid-size.premium vehicle, its new technology and multimedia options for the driver that can be used intuitively.

Undaunted roly-poly, the Lightning Bolt.

Undaunted roly-poly, the Lightning Bolt.

Not forgetting the fact that Opel is a German brand, and to a large extent the cars are still made in Germany. In other words, here is a German premium brand that is very attractive because of its price level and its down-to-earth cars that appeal both to fleet managers and private drivers.

The Opel crew has meticulously done its homework. As a result, the Insignia has scored several Firsts. When it comes to fuel efficiency, the Insignia 2.0 CDTI is benchmark in its mid-size class, both as notchback and as hatchback. The eco champion with its turbo diesel engine has CO2 emissions as low as 99 g/km and consumes no more than 3.7 l/100 km, with 88 kW/120 hp or 103 kW/140 hp.

The most amazing trophy is an incredibly low drag coefficient of below 0.25, which makes the Insignia the  most streamlined five-door hatchback in the world. The Sports Tourer, too, has an impressive drag efficient of 0.28, making it the most aerodynamic startion wagon in series production.

With one Look: Designed to Thrill

It is just such a spell-binding look that makes one feel attracted to the second generation. The Insignia’s facelift has made the car forever young. It is fresh, it boasts a more expressive, distinct and discernible design. The cockpit has been rid of an abundance of buttons and switches and shaped into a high-quality cockpit with fourfold intuitive operation of the available infotainment systems. Neumann is convinced that “the new Insignia will thrill even more”.

The Insignia Cockpit: Tidied up, clearly arranged and ergonomic: the new Insignia cockpit.

Tidied up, clearly arranged and ergonomic: the new Insignia cockpit.

New leather and trim packages, plus simpler steering wheel buttons complete a decent facelifting for the Insignia. The AGR seats (Aktion Gesunder Rücken, i.e. Campaign for Healthier Backs, see http://www.agr-ev.de/en/certified-and-recommended/tested-products/50-autositze), have been an outstanding feature with Opel cars for many years. These back-friendly seats are not standard equipment in any Opel. Nevertheless, 60 per cent of German car drivers have ordered their respective Opel with AGR seats.

Determined look with winglets of attraction.

Determined look with winglets of attraction.

The look of a car, meaning its lights at the front and at the back, is always important. It is what gives it its character. And the Insignia definitely now has a confident, focused and direct look, as if to say: “Here’s looking at you… and I do expect an answer when I am talking to you”. Part of this look are the distinctive winglets as design elements for both headlamps and taillights. Additionally, the new look of the redesigned headlamps is strengthened by embedded chrome accents below halogen or bi-xenon modules surrounded by high gloss, black bezels. The “wing” signature is characteristic of all body versions.

On the Winglets of Desirable Design

Opel has abandoned its dated and slightly frumpy appearance, resulting in an altogether rejuvenated styling. The same applies to the second Insignia generation. The top model

Winglets with a view - the rear lights of the new Insignia.

Winglets with a view – the rear lights of the new Insignia.

has become altogether more masculine, with its flowing shape more solidly planted on the ground. Added to which it has distinct design features that make it discernible as an Insignia. In a sense, the car has become a personality, is no longer “just” a practical means of transport.

The eye-catching bodywork encapsulates state-of-the art technology. This holds even more true for the ultimate top-of-the-line perfomer, the Insignia OPC. Trendsetting technologies range from an Active Air Shutter lowering the drag coefficient, adaptive 4×4 all-wheel drive, Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL+), Advanced Park Assist, Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), FlexRide Premium Chassis, Independent Car Heater, LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL), Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Traction Control (TCPlus), with engine and braking intervention and many other ingredients that make this car state-of-the art in every respect.

Mulimedia Options Intuitively Understood

Irrespective of whether it is true or not that generations X and especially Y are more interested in smartphones and multimedia than in cars – we actually do not reckon much to that view, but rather attribute the decrease in young car tenants to the exceedingly expensive maintenance costs – Opel has introduced revolutionary infotainment in the new Insignia.

8-inch touchpad catering for all conceivable needsof communication.

8-inch touchpad catering for all conceivable needsof communication.

Integrated into the newly designed cockpit with a radically simplified control panel and two 8-inch colour displays is the so-called IntelliLink, a user-friendly technology that integrates smartphone capabilities into the car. IntelliLink allows its user to choose between four options to operate the infotainmen depending on whichever option is most convenient at

Touchpad with letter recognition.

Touchpad with letter recognition.

any given time. It has been developed to distract the driver’s attention from driving as little as possible. The four possible operation modes are voice command, steering wheel controls, the 8-inch touchscreen or a revolutionary touchpad centre console. The latter has letter recognition and will even translate scrawls into sensible information. Selected smartphone content can be transmitted via Bluetooth, added to which the touchscreen can download apps. IntelliLink is actually not just here to deliver infotainment, but moreover offers some powerful advanced functions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEvazslMzios.

The INSIGNIA of Power: OPC

Pure motorsport ambience: the instrument display has specific engine information available.

Pure motorsport ambience: The instrument display has specific engine information available.

Pure motorsport ambience awaits the driver of the OPC, the ultimate Opel powerhouse. The new Opel Insignia OPC, too, follows the new design language of the Insignia family. Its bold appearance has been restyled at the front and at the rear displaying specific OPC design elements, such as distinctive saber-tooth front detailing and integrated exhaust tailpipes. The OPC chassis is enhanced, with special focus on the re-worked rear axle – as in the other members of the new Insignia family – where engineers have modified around 60 percent of the componentry. In addition, noise and vibration behavior is improved through numerous fine-tuning measures.And at the heart of it all is the 2.8l V6 rubto engine with 239 kW/325 hp and 435 Nm maximum torque.

Insignia OPC as notchback and as hatchback.

Insignia OPC as notchback and as hatchback.

Bright Future Ahead

In China, the mid-size limousine Insignia wishes to appeal to a demanding clientele as Buick. Considering the looks, the multifarious options for a distinctly individual car, the 8-inch touchscreen for “generation Playstation”, the Insignia will undoubtedly be a success as Buick in the increasingly important market of China.

Not only the Chinese will be grateful for such clever devices as “My Opel App”, an interactive device which saves one ploughing through unwieldy instruction manuals. Instead, take your smartphone, move it to the area about which you would like to learn more and have the relevant information displayed to you:

With the Insignia family Opel has managed to offer a car for every taste. Given the choice we would go for the OPC, as it definitely fun to drive, especially along long and winding roads with lots of bends.

Only six months ago Neumann acceded the thorny Opel throne. But already now one is inclined to say: Mission successfully completed. Opel as one of Europe’s largest automakers has the backing of General Motors allowing the German carmaker to make the necessary investments into Research end Development. The Insignia is a perfect example of Opel rejuvenated and displaying advanced technology. The Lightning Bolt has regained its shine.

Zusammenfassung / Summary:

Opel ist mit der vollständigen Überarbeitung des Insignia in der zweiten Generation ein weiterer Rundumerfolg geglückt. Nach Meriva und Corsa als Segmentführer in ihrer jeweiligen Klasse und den sehr guten Verkaufszahlen des knackigen Kleinwagens Adam

New member of the Insignia family: Insignia Country Tourer for both town and rough countryside.

New member of the Insignia family: Insignia Country Tourer for both town and rough countryside.

zeichnet sich schon jetzt abab, dass der Insignia die Marktposition des deutschen Herstellers weiter festigen und verbessern wird. Anhaltenden Schwung und Aufwind bringt der Marke nicht zuletzt das neue Mitglied in der Insignia Familie, der Country Tourer – als Outdoor-Version und Crossover Cowboy für die Straße und für Offroad-Abenteuer.

Susanne Roeder

©roe