Twitter replacing Blog

A Word in Edgeways:

Change, the only Constant we Know

You, my faithful readers, will probably have asked yourselves: What has happened to my Blog “En route with…”?

The answer is rather simple: I have become infected with the Twitter virus. I was told one does not exist as a journalist and PR professional unless one indulges in more or less lucid comments.

So this is where you can follow up on my comments, concerns or opinions:

Yes, these tweets are very condensed, but they can spread more easily. Which is why I, too, have opted for this further tool of communicating with a wider public.

KISS: Keep it short and simple. Even if the topic frequently is extremely complex.

Stay tuned in. Looking forward to reading your comments ;-) .



Synthetic Fuels

SCheiderA Strong Case for Alternative Fuels

“There is enormous potential in synthetic fuels”, says Mahle CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider. It is a known fact that combustion gngines with synthetic fuels can significantly help to reduce CO2!

Why is the money squandered on price reductions for e-mobility vehicles rather than injecting the money into R&D for producing synthetic fuels at a reasonable price, one may well wonder. At last there is a CEO who resolutely speaks in favour of alternative synthetic fuels!

Here is an excerpt from Scheider’s speech on account of yesterday’s Annual Report:

“In the long term, synthetic fuels even facilitate CO2-neutral individual mobility with the combustion engine too, since they bind just as much CO2 during production as they later emit during combustion.

MAHLE is therefore making the case in the industry and in politics for the effective promotion of alternative fuels — that is to say, synthetically produced fuels, ethanol, and CNG. Alternative fuels constitute the fastest route to reducing CO2 in the transportation sector.

At the same time, no major interventions in the supply infrastructure would be necessary. Furthermore, they also represent a long-term solution to producing climate-friendly commercial vehicle powertrains.”


Never Resting on Their Laurels

Porsche and LMP1

A lot has happened since my last contribution here on my “sleepy” Blog, which is why – to keep you amused, here is a video which I personally happen to like a lot. It is about team spirit, dedication, passion, meticulousness – and success. I would quite have liked to dub this piece… really inspiring.

In a sense contravening digitilisation, most of my recent activities have been printed matter. But a film now and then is really getting the emotions across in a direct manner. Highly contagious anyway.

The Green Green Grass of Home


Relax! Oscar is taking care of it all ...

Relax! Oscar the robot  is taking care of  it all …

Luscious green

Oscar paving the way. The little guy follows his own principles, cleverly led by a code. So all ye people that might like one such mower – there are many brands around, but there is only one like this one.

Granted, it does take a while to have your lawn look like the above, but Oscar will certainly do all he can to keep your lawn in good shape while you can pursue other activities.

Run Silent, Run Deep

The Audi A3 e-tron Sportback

Posted on August 5th, 2014 by Susanne Roeder & Ian Kuah


The most outstanding quality of Audi’s A3 e-tron Sportback plug-in hybrid that very quickly becomes apparent to a first time driver is how seamlessly the two disparate halves of its powertrain integrate in real world driving conditions.

Unlike a pure electric car, you hardly have to learn anything new to operate this petrol-electric hybrid, and what you do need to know can be conveyed in a matter of minutes when your dealer hands the car over.

Another positive aspect of the e-tron’s dynamic performance is the way it goes down the road. With springs and dampers uprated to cope with the e-tron’s 320kg of extra weight, its feels even more supple and mature in the way it tackles bumps than a normal A3. 


The 1.4 TFSI motor has 150hp and 250Nm of torque. The electric motor is rated at 101hp (75kW), with 330Nm of torque. However, as the power delivery curves are not additive, the total system power works out at 204hp, with a total system torque of 350Nm. The compact electric motor weighs 34kg and sits between the 100kg transversely-mounted internal combustion engine and the six-speed S-tronic gearbox with integrated drive de-coupler.

The presence of this de-coupling clutch is significant as one of the issues with electric and hybrid cars is the un-natural feeling of strong deceleration when you take your foot off the throttle.

This is caused by the strong braking effect of an electric motor when it is not delivering power. However, it turns out that coasting is a more efficient use of kinetic energy than brake recuperation, so this solution kills two birds with one stone.

The fact that an electric motor develops its peak torque at zero revs gives the e-tron very good low-end punch, and this is reflected in its 0-60km/h time of 4.9 sec. The 0-100km/h time of 7.6 sec is not quite hot hatch beating, but is more than adequate. Top speed in petrol mode is 222km/h, and you can run at up to 130km/h in e-mode, which corresponds to the highway speed limit in most European countries.

If performance is good, economy is outstanding, and Audi claim the A3 e-tron will do 1.5 L/100km or 188 mpg in old money, with emissions a paltry 35g/km. In real world driving on our test route, which included everything from the urban grind in Vienna to motorways, we saw an average of 4.3L/100km or 65.7mpg, which is still very impressive.


The e-tron’s ability to run in pure electric (EV) mode for 50km on a full charge means that for most people, the daily commute with zero emissions is taken care of. The fuel tank takes 40 litres, which is good for 650km. Using both power modes in tandem, the car has a potential range of up to 890km.

The 18 km drive from Vienna airport to our hotel was well within the A3 e-tron’s EV range, and it was actually very pleasant to cover this distance with a total lack of mechanical noise and vibration.

While you can certainly hear the stereo better at a lower volume, this also implies that a base car with low chassis rolling noise is desirable. Thankfully the A3 also delivers in this respect.

Our test cars were pre-production examples, and while there will be some further software updates before the A3 e-tron goes on sale in the late summer, the cars we drove are by and large what a paying customer can expect.

The standard Audi A3 1.4 TFSI Sportback weighs 1,230kg. With its battery pack and other hybrid componentry, the e-tron tips the scales at 1,540kg (DIN), and its 57/43% weight distribution makes the e-tron slightly less nose heavy than the 60/40% of an A3 TDI. Its electric power steering has a nice weighting for easy low speed manoeuvring, with a ratio that also made easy work of the mountain roads in the hills above Vienna.

The fact that the 125kg, 8.8 kWh Lithium Ion battery sits right down low on the floor just in front of the rear axle is of huge benefit to the handling balance of a normally nose-heavy front-wheel-drive hatchback.

Shod with grippy 225/45R17 tyres, the e-tron exhibited less understeer in bends, and less perceived weight transfer under acceleration and braking than a normal A3.

Another advantage of placing the battery pack in this position is realised in luggage carry ability, which remains unchanged from the 280-litres of an A3 quattro, expanding to 1,120-litres with the rear seats folded flat.

The floorpan is derived from the A3 quattro, with some new sheet metal in strategic places like the battery storage compartment. The centre tunnel of the quattro floorpan is required for mechanical packaging reasons, since the area where the propeller shaft and exhaust system are normally found now contains a long, triangular-section centre silencer.


From A1 to A8, consistently good build quality is an Audi strong suit, and the A3 impresses from the moment you open a door and step inside. The class leading fit and finish of its cabin sets the class benchmark, giving the impression that this compact Audi is a smaller rather than a cheaper version of their larger models. 


In the cabin, everything is exactly as you would find it in a normal A3 apart from the instrument cluster where a power meter replaces the rev counter. This indicates Charge, Efficiency, and Power Boost from the batteries. In energy recuperation mode, coasting and braking both send power to the batteries.

The familiar pop-up MMI screen on the dashboard has the usual items like sat-nav, but an extra function controlled from a button on the dashboard allows the driver to choose the running mode for the vehicle.

The first of these is EV (Electric Drive) where the e-tron runs in purely electric mode, drawing power from the batteries, as I tested on the drive from the airport to the hotel. The car’s default mode on start up is EV unless the battery is depleted.


The second mode is Hybrid Auto. In this setting, the computer decides when to run the petrol or electric motors or both for optimum efficiency. So if the batteries are getting low, the internal combustion motor will cut in to charge the batteries until they are at the point where efficient running on electric power is feasible again.

In Hybrid Hold mode, the aim is to retain battery charge, so the computer will do its utmost to use the petrol motor and coasting and braking to charge the batteries to be used later. The final mode is Hybrid Charge, where the system will try to increase the battery charge as much as possible using extra regenerative braking and the petrol engine as a generator.

If the car is running on battery power initially in very cold weather there is the issue of engine wear on the internal combustion engine if it is suddenly engaged in kick down when stone cold. Because of this, special piston rings and cylinder liners are used, and a sensor monitors oil quality.


The A3 e-tron Sportback has three independent cooling systems. The first is the normal water-cooling system for the internal combustion motor. The second is the water-cooled charge-air intercooler for the forced aspiration component of this motor.

Last but not least is the cooling system for the batteries and power electronics. This uses the heat exchange component of the vehicles air-conditioning to maintain the batteries within their rated operating temperature envelope.

That means the a/c system is always on, which is an advantage as most people are not aware of the fact that switching off the a/c in winter is bad since the small amount of lubricating oil circulating with the coolant gas keeps the rubber seals in the system from drying out. Also, as air-conditioning extracts humidity form the air, it keeps your windows clear when it is cold and damp or raining.


An A3 e-tron App for smart phone junkies allows you to access your travel data information like average fuel consumption, distance and driving time. It also tells you your battery charge status and range.


And when the car is connected to the mains charger, you can programme the air-conditioning to pre-heat or pre-cool the car’s interior, so you do not have to draw power from the battery for this task once you are driving. Mains charging time is 3 hours 45 min on a normal household supply, dropping to 2 hrs 15 min if you have a 16 Amp socket.

The Audi A3 e-tron goes on sale in Europe this summer, and in China in 2015. Audi will offer an A6 e-tron LWB in China in 2016, as a joint-venture project using many locally sourced components, and Q7 e-tron will follow.


At 37,900-euro (in Germany) Audi A3 e-tron Sportback goes head-to-head with the likes of the Toyota Prius plug-in Hybrid, which it decisively outpoints on driving dynamics, prestige and build quality. It is as large a car as most people need for their daily commute, and is a real pleasure to drive.

- the end -

Aquam e Pumice postulare

Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel: “Eine Maut wird es mit mir nicht geben.”

Already forgotten?

Matthias Wissmann: What about it?

Politics in Brussels: Only eating Brussel sprouts?

So this is the latest addition. 8 points is not the issue. But the money one has to pay. And who decides on what road what speed is permitted? Whereas on some long and winding roads it is only possible for the advanced driver to reach the allowed 100km/h, on other totally straight roads it is 60km/h – where the speed limit used to be 100km/h. Just one example.

Änderung des Bußgeldkatalogs

So, again, cash cow car driver. All the other countries, yes, they do have a Maut System of some sort. However, the Germans already pay incredible taxes for petrol (75 %). And e-mobility is heavily sponsored, and still intolerably expensive, simply because the well-to-wheel balance does not work.

Frau Merkel, you once studied physics, did you not? So where is the logic in this? Or are you swaying opportunistically in the wind as you have almost always done?

Source: Mobil in Deutschland e.V.


The Walk of Time

Years come and go. So do calendars. A publishing company really doing a good job concerning picturesque calendaria is DeliusKlasing. For example their “Historische Eisenbahnplakate” (Edition Maritim) are a classic every year. They produce many a calendar year in, year out. A highlight for the coming year is certainly this calendar. Happy 2014 with Porsche and their return to Le Mans!

Porsche 917 - a hell of a challenge it was.

Porsche 904 GTS – a hell of a rocket starting off the myth of Porsche racing history.


And how about a little nostalgic soundbite:



Susanne Roeder


New Bible, latest Edition

“It is the pinnacle of achievement to create something that survives the test of time, is immune to the eccentricity of certain epochs – in other words, has a timeless character.” (Prof. Dr. Ing. h.c. Ferry Porsche)

So, here’s to Christmas and the birth of the …. Porsche 911 ! An altogether splendid book.

The ultimate book to celebrate 50 years of the icon has appeared in Motorbuchverlag (Paul Pietsch).

Father to the 911

Father to the 911.

ISBN: 978-3-613-30911-1
39.90 EUR / 55.90 CHF

Edition Porsche Museum

Susanne Roeder


STIHL Timbersports World Championship 2013

“Both Cuts are Good”

A tremendous show in Porsche Arena in Stuttgart.

A tremendous show in Porsche Arena in Stuttgart.

Want to meet hunky men? No need to go into a fitness parlour to come across specimens of this much admired species. The answer is STIHL Timbersports. The best bet is to try and attend one of the STIHL Timbersports Championships as highlight of the Stihl Timbersports Series.

We were lucky because this year’s World Championship took part in Porsche Arena in Stuttgart (as announced in our post from 23rd September:, i.e. in the vicinity. Our decision to attend was accompanied by the feeling: “Okay, might be quite interesting. Let’s stay for a bit.” Little did we know what was awaiting us. The atmosphere was unbelievably good and highly infectious. Hot music in a fully packed Arena with fans in high spirits from all over the world. The seats in Porsche Arena were completely sold out. No hooliganism. On the contrary, pure joy ruling an event that requires strength, craftsmanship, stamina and equilibrium. The participants do not only love dealing with wood, they are athletes and avid sports lumberjacks. It was this combination of athletic prowess and a superb atmosphere that made us join into cheering and stay till the very end. In a word: We experienced a wholly new world, and it was worth every minute.

Man of migh: Jason Wynyard from New Zealand, last year's World Champion.

Man of migh: Jason Wynyard from New Zealand, last year’s World Champion.

The Stihl Timbersports Series is the original extreme sport which first took place towards the end of the 19th century. Out of the improvised beginnings about a dozen sporting events developed, including some that simulate logging and cutting a tree. In the present Stihl Timbersports World Championship there are the following six disciplines: Standing Block Chop, Underhand Chop, Springboard, Single Buck, STIHL Stock Saw and Hot Saw.

Competition in days of yore: Lumberjack displaying the Underhand Chop in Australia.

Competition in days of yore: Lumberjack demonstrating the Underhand Chop.

All disciplines require dexterity in handling the respective tool and the material wood, strength, endurance and precision. At present there are about 500 athletes in Europe and almost 2,000 worldwide competing in the Stihl Timbersports series. Many of the European athletes exercise a profession dealing with wood and machinery, but there are also scientists, students, lawyers, policemen and craftsmen to be found. In a word: A refreshingly different type of sport and a hundred per cent in line with the world of Stihl and Timbersports.

USA Head Judge Rich Hallett decided on whether the cuts were good. And they all were.

Master of Ceremonies: USA Head Judge Rich Hallett decided on whether the cuts were good. And they all were.

The competitors vie with each others in pairs, trying to reach the best time. Provided everything went according to the rules, the referee calls out to the audience: “Both cuts are good”, which is accompanied by loud cheering and the waving of flags of the countries of the contestants.

Where Wood is Sawed …

Robert Ebner during the German Championship in July 2013. The German could easily have finished 2nd in the World Championship, but showing nerves made him lose precious time.

Robert Ebner during the German Championship in July 2013. The German could easily have finished 2nd in the World Championship, but showing nerves made him lose precious time.

Where wood is chopped, splinters must fall. And where wood is sawed, sparks must fly. As to the “Standing Block Chop” this is where huge pieces of wood fall. Mimicking the felling of a tree, the competitors race to chop through a vertical white pine having a diameter of 30 centimetres (12 inches). The competitor must must chop from both sides of the log. The time ends when the block is severed.

Precision is the key to success in this discipline. Stamina is the primary challenge because this is one of the most physically exhausting exercises. Jason Wynyard set the world record for the standing block chop at 12.11 seconds in 2003.

The German Ebner in last year's World Championship

The German Ebner in last year’s World Championship

The “Underhand Chop”, too, requires a large and therefore heavy axe. But even more than for the Standing Block Chop a sense of equilibrium and most of all accuracy is needed as the contestand stands on a pine log with his feet apart. At any rate this discipline is not to be recommended to beginners, at least if they want to keep there feet or legs unharmed. Even the pros wear a kind of chain mail in the form of a protective sock.

Size plus weight of the sports utensils and the hazardous acrobatics that the athletes have to perform with them make it hardly surprising that this is a sport in which women are not seen. So far, this has been a man’s world – making it all the more attractive for women, be it as a kind of cheerleaders, spurring their heroes on in the arena of prowess and manhood, be it as sheer admirers of men, sweat and competition. The only female attractions have so far been a model trying some of the disciplines under the roaring cheers of male spectators and girls dancing in between the sports acts. These athletes are the gladiators of modern times. So, yes, this is a man’s world, this is a man’s world, but it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl:

What really took our breath away was the “Springboard” act. This  discipline based on the need for old-time loggers to establish a cutting platform above the massive root bases of old growth trees. The competitor uses an axe to chop pockets into a 9-foot poplar pole and then place 6-inch wide springboard platforms into the pockets. However, to watch this almost makes one’s heart stand still. The wood is really strong, the cuts do not appear to

Acrobatics and hard work in one: Springboard Chop.

Acrobatics and hard work in one: Springboard Chop up in the air.

go deep, and yet the competitors ram the sprinboard into the tree trunk. And these boards up high sway dangerously up and down, so one also has to be free from giddiness and counterbalance the the moving board at the same time as mightily swinging the axe. And most amazing of all: The athletes perform this athletic act in something like 32 to 36 seconds! A most impressive discipline steeped in tradition.

These Cookies are not for Eating …

Then there is the “Single Buck” discipline. With a single man cross-cut saw of the astounding length of about two metres the competitor has to saw a complete “cookie”.

Last year's Word Champion from New Zealand makes splinters fall in abundance with his single buck.

Last year’s Word Champion from New Zealand makes splinters fall in abundance with his single buck.

Now, as you will imagine, this is not a chocolate biscuit, but a circular piece of evenly sawed-off wood. The athlete makes one cut through 46 centimetres (19 inches) within about ten seconds. In fact, Jason Wynyard set the world record for the single buck at 9.39 seconds in 2007. For a successful cut the athlete needs both rhythm and vigour. And not only that: A key strategy is to keep the saw as level as possible so that it creates an even cut and the teeth do not catch in the wood. Easier said than done, as the long saw is a

The new extremely powerful 5.4kW-professional Stihl MS 661 C-M.

The new extremely powerful 5.4kW-professional Stihl MS 661 C-M.

rather wobbly tool. The single buck is referred to as the “misery whip” because of the physical toll a body endures while using it.

Not one but two cookies have to be cut in the “STIHL Stock Saw” discipline. This year saw the introduction of the new STIHL MS 661 C-M to this discipline. The stock saw discipline is a true test of operator ability. At the shot of the referee’s gun, the sawyer makes two cuts through 40 centimetres (16 inches) of a wood block. With only ten centimetres (four inches) of wood to work with, precision is key. If a competitor saws outside of that or fails to saw a complete cookie, he will be disqualified. The present world record for two cookies is 9.45 seconds.

Before we turn to the spectacular highlight of the World Championship, here is a glimpse of the atmosphere in Porsche Arena:

As mentioned above, we had little notion of what was awaiting us. And what is coming next is not only really hot, but also, to quote a pro: “A lot harder than it looks.”

World Record in Speed

230 km/h in a split second, namely in 0.3 seconds. This is not a new world record by Formula One Star Sebastian Vettel who just one day later became Word Champion for the fourth time in sequence in India, three races before the end of the F1 season 2013. Not even a Formula 1 racing car can reach nearly such a momentum. It is in fact the modified

Incredible speed: Hot saw with 62 to 68 PS.

Incredible speed: Hot saw with 62 to 68 PS.

Hot saw: It weighs almost 30 kilogram, can reach up to 270 km/h within 0.5 to 0.7 seconds, has 62 to 80 horsepower (!), which is more horsepower than in small cars, and asks for an investment of at least 5,000 Euro. But just as in Formula 1 the teams develop their individual hot saws within a given framework. And just as in Formula 1 the developing process is top secrets. The pros make sure that the competitors cannot see how they modified the chainsaw which is delivered to them from the STIHL works in Switzerland where they are manufactured.

Listen to a pro who describes just how difficult it is to handle a hot saw:

Before each act, the judge announces: “Time is ready; contestants are ready; 60 seconds to warm up your saws”. Only in the hot saw acts do contestants get 60 seconds, for “normal” saws, it is 15 seconds.

Anyway, in the hot saw discipline, almost everything is different: The competitor uses a customized chain saw with a modified engine, usually taken from a personal watercraft or snowmobile. If the competitor fails to start his engine to make the three cuts immediately, he has more or less had it. This is what unfortunately happened to the German Robert Ebner, a hot aspirant to second place who ultimately lost a place on the podium by becoming fourth.

For a Good Cause

More than one hundred international athletes combatted in the 9th STIHL TIMBERSPORTS World Championship with its motto “Kiss my Axe”, spurred on by nearly 10,000 fans and international spectators. Amazing logistics is needed for this event. In the

Children from the Diakonie Stetten experiencing wood.

Children from the Diakonie Stetten experiencing wood.

end, the Australian Brad de Losa was the new World Champion. Apart from having earned a lot of feathers in his cap he was awarded a wood sculpture as trophy, which took its artist more than 500 hours to complete. It was presented to the winner by Dr. Nikolas Stihl, chairman of the STIHL advisory and supervisory boards and grandson to the founder of the company. The event also served a good cause, because a total of 18 tons of wood used during the Championship were ultimately donated to the Diakonie Stetten, a clerical institution near the STIHL headquarters in Waiblingen. With its long tradition in the aid to mentally handicapped people and the large number of opportunities it offers, Diakonie Stetten is well known in the surrounding area.

Summary /Zusammenfassung

Wahnsinns Stimmung in der Porsche Arena in Stuttgart, die unweit des Hauptsitzes des Weltunternehmens Stihl liegt. Die STIHL Timbersports Weltmeisterschaft findet seit dem Jahr 2007 jährlich statt. Natürlich ist es eine großartige Marketingaktion für das Unternehmen STIHL. Doch mehr als das ist es eine hochkarätige Sportveranstaltung, die ihren Athleten Kraft, Disziplin, Ausdauer und Strategie abverlangt. Weltmarktführer Stihl mit seinen rund 44.000 Vertragshändlern führt die Stihl Timbersports Series auf der ganzen Welt durch.

Susanne Roeder



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, 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:

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