Holden Malibu and SAAB 9-5 built on the same platform BELOW
ABOVE: Malibu BELOW: SAAB 9-5
Opel, just as the tv ad says, has come back to Australia. This time they have bought the whole family. We all remember the Astra right? It was sold on OZ as a Holden Astra for many years but left our shores with no promise of return. Now, there are 3 models in Opel’s range, the Baby Corsa, The Astra and the gorgeous Insignia. Insignia is built on the same platform as the stunning but ill-fated SAAB 9-5 we reviewed last year and Holden’s Malibu (to be sold here soon). Platforms are important as an indicator of what the potential buyer might expect on his test drive and since we all liked the SAAB very much, there were high expectations.
As the car was driven to the collection point I was able to get a good look at her. The range topping “Select”, rather a silly moniker, is PHABulous. It sits on big phat tyres at least 10 dinner plates across with the arches bulging out in a rather masculine way. It looks modern and streamlined until you get to the back which looks a trifle overdone. It has the chunkiness of a big German frau after a 40 year diet of tatties, big sausages and biere. The lights are bright enough to show the wise men to Bethlehem but it all makes sense once you open the tailgate. A huge chunk of the bumper and all of the taillights raise up up and away. The uber-low lip means a perfect place to picnic even in dodgy weather. You can perch comfortably on the ledge with a champers in one hand and deluxe luxury BBQ paper plate in the other. In the right light you can see some of the panels have different lines, shades and even colours. Some of the joints don’t quite match. You wouldn’t notice it any other time but I think it behoves me to be as accurate as I can.
While the tailgate is up, there are two huge lights (red/clear on either side of the opening) inside which I assume are meant to provide illumination should you be caught short and have to pull into a slip lane. They also provide a fair bit of light so perhaps that picnic could be a romantic twilight one. You could pack French champers and hilariously expensive canapés into the capacious rear cargo area. You might find enough room for a couple luxury foldout chairs and a small table. I’d also include a 12 arm chandelier in sterling, after all we wouldn’t want to overdo with a 13 arm one would we? Although there is no self-close on the tail gate, you there is a soft-close function. Lowering to the first clock causes a mechanism to draw the hatch to the fully closed position. You never have to slam it again.
Missing is a prox key entry/start system. I fully expected a couple of discrete pads in the door handles so I didn’t have to fumble about with armfuls of shopping to put out my keys, but no! This is something I’d want in the premium brand of Holden’s parent company GM. Since GM has prox key entry scattered throughout the company products, I would have thought it was something they would have made sure it was in their in-house premium brand. It’s only a small tarnish but Toyota can’t sit on its hands, it must make the 86 better value.
The front sports LED running lights around the outer extremities of the headlight cluster for daytime visibility. It’s becoming somewhat ubiquitous because such a brilliant idea. They could make more of a feature of it a la Audi A8 so it’s a lost opportunity to dazzle.
The Insignia has been on sale in Europe for 5 years but it presents a fresh face in Australia. On the bright side, it means a new model within 3 years. It’s a sexy car especially on the 19” wheels. It’s a brave move to start a new brand in such uncertain times but a prettier executive range I can’t imagine. Both sedan and wagon models are gorgeous.
I’d make a joke about the doors being solid “just like a Golf” but I’m going to resist the urge. I will say that there were many comments made about the build and solid feel of the Opel, and this continued to the interior. Insignia is well appointed but like the keyless entry/start system, there are other mod cons absent. The front seats are only partially powered by electrons. There is no reversing camera, and no auto folding mirrors and annoyingly no “sport” function for the superb 6 speed auto. Everything else you could need was accounted for with heated leather seats and full climate control. The climate control had a few quirks too so you had to set the “auto” fan speed in the config menu and the dual zone reset to single zone each time you start the car. Again this can be changed in the config menu but a button to SYNC the zones would be easier to use.
The centre armrest bin has the charging and USB connection station but that’s it. There is no room for anything more than a phone / Ipod so you’ll be needing the glove box for the rest of your bits and bobs. By the way, did you know a glove box was originally just for gloves? Remember those old open-top tourers? The steering wheel contains the auxiliary controls including a useless voice control button. Don’t bother pressing it though because like all voice control systems it is quicker to do it yourself. I’ve not encountered a voice system that actually works. Perhaps someone from the auto industry should give the people at Apple a ring. As painful as Siri can be, it is a thousand time better than anything in a car. More over all of the voice systems are different and each requires different words in order to drive it. You must spend valuable time familiarising yourself with the functions and what words to use, instead of just telling it what you want it to do. Surely the one thing voice control is therefore is to allow you to control car functions with your voice.
If you have an Iphone with Siri you’ll be able to use it but pressing the home button on the phone then the car’s mic for the rest.
The leather seats feel nice to the touch so it’s odd that they skimped on the electric adjustments. Even the front squabs of the seats comes out to provide extra support for longer legged drivers but you pull it out like a draw. Only height and lumbar-support have power buttons. That is being picky because the interior has an otherwise classy look about it. The contrasting stitching on the leather lends a certain verisimilitude to a cabin that’s aiming for a premium look. I particularly like the extra effort to tempt the taste buds with a variety of surface treatments. The metal highlights are tasteful to the most part but I spied some of that wretched chromed plastic on the shifter cover. Aluminium please, not some rubbishy cheap placky imitation.
None of this detracts from a simple layout of well-designed centre console. The command centre has a zone for climate control which is clearly laid out. If you’re like me, your passenger will no doubt want to be in deep freeze or the Kalahari so they’ll twiddle with their temperature button. When they do the driver’s side no longer controls both until you restart the car. Some brands have a button to sync the controls again but without it you’ll be altering both knobs. While playing with knobs can be fun, it gets tiring after a long day in the saddle and a button to get the knobs back in sync please if it’s not too much trouble.
Some of the functions are shared or duplicated with the toggle wheel unit near the gear shifter by the driver’s left hand. You’ll also find the electric parking brake here which needs to be used slowly if it’s to work. The toggle has missed an opportunity to be more useful doesn’t have full joystick functionability. In order to mover the curser you use buttons, and it’s not the same buttons for each function. All is not lost however, there is a joystick located in the centre of the command unit but it has limited application in the Satnav only. It could easily have been used in all the functions like any other computer. One feature, the “repeat instruction” button is a gift from the gods. There is nothing worse than fumbling about trying replay instructions you missed because the radio was too loud. Most satnavs have the function secreted somewhere in the touch screen, or by holding a button for 2 seconds. Here, you press the one button and you’re away. However like most in-dash systems the little lady in your dash doesn’t tell you what street to turn into by name. Why? If the Navigon and TomTom apps on an Iphone can manage it surely the magnificently expensive units installed in cars should do it.
The controls felt lightweight and slightly cheap. They look great but I wondered about their longevity. Like the chromed plastic trim, lightweight switchgear tends to come away in your hands after a period of use. It’s happened to us all and perhaps I’m being too harsh.
The central LCD isn’t a touch screen which makes some of the functions harder use than those where you can directly select from the screen itself. It seems like a lost opportunity to dazzle for very little cost.
Over the cabin does have a premium and although we were driving the top model, the omissions left a feeling that should be another level of trim which might include all the gizmos missing from the “Select”.
Our wagon had the 2.0L diesel with a modest 118KW of power and 350BNm of torque. The torque gets the Insignia moving quick off the mark until the turbo cuts in and gives her a firm kick in the rear. The initial feel is one of a light and nimble car. The diesel gets electric power steering though I’m not sure why the other models get hydraulic instead. Although diesels are more popular they still elicit a groan from most of us for their industrial sound.
Speaking of the diesel engine, did you know the inventor of the diesel, a Mr Rudolf Diesel, intended the engine to be run on vegetable oil not mineral oil as is the case now. All diesel engines can run on vegetable oil even now but we have been told that we must use that which comes out of the ground. Mr Diesel mysteriously disappeared during a sea voyage to London. He took dinner, went to his room and somehow was found 10 days later in the sea. Although he was identified by personal possessions only, one has to wonder how he got into the water. Some say suicide, some say Diesel was helped on his final journey by business or military competitors, most notably the oil industry. Shortly after, Mrs Diesel got a package containing 200,000 marks and some financial documents. Make of that what you will.
Of course the Opel is a German product so for the first little while you’ll be swiping the windscreen every time you change lane. Thankfully you stop all that after a fairly short time. The 6 speed auto is deliciously smooth. but as with most modern autos will shift up as far as it can as soon as it can. It’s something to aid fuel economy. but without a sport setting your either need to plant your foot or use the manual to get more satisfactory performance. Leaving it to its own devices will see you in to gear in Olympic record time.
The steering and brakes are sharp and light, as you would expect. The ride is fabulous with a subtlety and finesse that’s you would get from a more expensive brand. Most of the bumps were soaked up with only the occasional pothole being too much for her to cope with. Even then it’s not uncomfortable inside.
We don’t have any pets but if we did it would be easy to get a couple of pooches into the back with the low loading lip. Fido would be very happy with the quality digs. The cargo area has very thick side walls which takes some of the space away from the cargo area. The side hatches reveal only extensive insulation which looks like wool and cotton house batts. Such batts make the interior but well isolated and very quiet, something a busy exec is going to demand.
We took the Insignia on an over-night trip to the Blue Mountains to get an idea of her long distance manners. It’s no great shock that she was magnificent. The fuel consumption plummeted to a tiny 5.5 L/100k and with the auto in 6th most of the time, the cruise control had no trouble keeping the revs barely ticking over at 1500rpms. The Insignia feels youthful and agile so at home darting in and out of city traffic. On the highway she turns into a grand tourer with big long legs, super comfy seating and a calm, cool cabin. So much so that you would find yourself stepping out after a trip of 1200k’s looking as fresh as a daisy. My only complaint was the steering wheel could have extended a little further out but I’m being picky.
The premium sound system is very easy to use. There is no real need to refer to the user guide and using the menu is both simple, and fun. Luckily Opel hasn’t been obsessed with putting every function in a submenu as some of the more expensive Germans have done. There are buttons for direct access to some of the functions including a “repeat” to have the GPS say the last instruction again. The sound is quite decent too. There is a lot to be said for GM’s premium divisions. Though there aren’t many of them left after the GFC.
I’ve already mentioned the platform on which the German Insignia is built is the same at SAABs no defunct 9-5 as well as several of GM’s American models (Holden will be selling the Malibu here very soon and is rumoured to be replacing the Commodore). As such, the handling feels snappy and sharp but we didn’t have the chance to do the usual Grand Pacific Drive to bring out the sports credentials. There was quite a sportiness about her once she got into the mountains. Imagine driving the handsome, yet elegant sports-wagon down a quite mountain lane. The giant 19” alloys are kicking up the last of the autumn leaves, and the light, dappled by overhanging maples and elms, dances on the windscreen. You give the window button a quick shove and the glass slides away allowing the fresh, crisp mountain air in to the cabin. The faintest hint of eucalypt forest washes the last of the new car smell from your nostrils as you turn into your street. The house sits perched on the very edge of the ridge and you turn into the drive then off onto the grass to stop under some old maples. You grab you bags from the back and lower the tailgate which discretely locks itself into place and you click the lock button on the key. You walk down the path to the front door which is propped open to welcome you to the stunning view beyond. As you pass through the hallowed portal you can’t resist turning for one last look. There she sits with a couple of errant leaves already making themselves at home on the bonnet, and you realise just how serene the drive has been. You feel like a film star.
Good looking and elegant, the agile Insignia handles like a small car. It’s spacious cabin is well appointed, well designed and cleverly executed. There are a few creature comforts missing. Is this because this model has been on sale in Europe for 5 years? None the less Insignia presents great value providing Euro-snob quality at a decent price. Remembering it will on sale alongside Holden’s Malibu later in the year you’ll have your work cut out trying to decide which tickles your fancy more. Insignia is a great car. Will a new brand survive in Australia in tough times, only history will determine?
Opel Insignia: Technical Data Overview
Insignia, 4-door Sedans
Insignia, 5-door Sports Tourer
|4-door Sedan||5-door Sports Tourer|
|Key Exterior Dimensions|
|Width (including mirrors)||mm||2084||2084|
|Turning circle diameter||m||11.40||11.40|
|Length to rear seat back||mm||1003||1086|
|Width between wheel housings||mm||1027||1030|
|Capacity in luggage compartment only (rear seats upright)||L||500||500|
|Capacity to seat backs (rear seats folded)||L||1015||1030|
|Maximum capacity to ceiling (rear seats folded)||L||-||1530|
|Fuel tank capacity||L||70||70|
|Co-efficient of drag||CD||0.27||0.30|
Adam Opel GmbH media.opel.com
2.0L VVT Turbo Petrol 2.0L CDTi Turbo Diesel
|Performance (Sports Tourer in brackets)|
|Acceleration 0-100km/h 2||s||7.8 (8.1)||9.6 (10.1)|
|Fuel Economy and Emissions (Sports Tourer in brackets)|
|Urban||L/100km||13.1 (13.3)||8.0 (8.1)|
|Extra-urban||L/100km||6.3 (6.5)||4.4 (4.7)|
|Combined||L/100km||8.8 (9.0)||5.7 (6.0)|
|CO2 emissions (combined)||g/km||206 (211)||151 (157)|
|Maximum trailer load (without brakes / with brakes)||kg||750 / 1700||750 / 1800|
|Minimum tare mass||kg||1593||1576|
1 Includes Active Select manual tiptronic shifting
2 Based on European base model
Opel Insignia: Marketing Specifications
|5-door Sports Tourer||O||O|
|2.0L VVT Turbo Petrol||6-speed automatic transmission||S||S|
|2.0L CDTi Turbo Diesel||6-speed automatic transmission||O||O|
|Chassis, Wheels and Tyres|
|17” alloy wheels||S||-|
|• 225/55R17-97W HW4 tyres||S||-|
|18” alloy wheels||O||-|
|• 245/45R18-96W HW4 tyres||O||-|
|19” alloy wheels||-||S|
|• 245/40R19-98Y HW4 tyres||-||S|
|Space-saver steel spare wheel and tyre||S||S|
|Electric park brake||S||S|
|Hill start assist||S||S|
|McPherson strut front suspension||S||S|
|Multilink rear suspension||S||S|
|Sports chassis, lowered||-||S|
|Hydraulic power steering (with 2.0T engines)||S||S|
|Rack electric power steering (with 2.0D engines)||S||S|
|Dual front airbags||S||S|
|Dual front side airbags||S||S|
|Dual curtain airbags||S||S|
|Electronic stability control (ESC)||S||S|
|Anti-lock braking system||S||S|
|Pedal release system||S||S|
|Body-colour door handles||S||S|
|Body-colour exterior mirrors||S||S|
|Chrome exhaust tip(s)||S||S|
|Chrome window surround||S||S|
|Halogen headlamps with daytime running lamps||S||-|
|Bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lamps||-||S|
|Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL+)||-||S|
|High-pressure headlamp washers||-||S|
|Rear lip spoiler (Sedan only)||-||S|
|Rear privacy glass and stainless steel load sill plate (Sports Tourer only)||-||S|
|Sharkfin antenna with rear glass diversity antenna||S||-|
|Sharkfin GPS antenna with rear glass diversity antenna||O||S|
|Tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column||S||S|
|Comfort front seats||S||-|
|Ergonomic sports front seats, AGR certified (driver and passenger)||-||S|
|Siena leather appointed trim||S||-|
|Perforated Siena leather appointed trim||-||S|
|6-way adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar and power vertical||S||S|
|2-way adjustable front passenger’s seat||S||-|
|6-way adjustable front passenger’s seat with power lumbar and power vertical||-||S|
|2-way adjustable driver’s and front passenger’s head restraints||S||-|
|4-way adjustable driver’s and front passenger’s head restraints||-||S|
|2-way adjustable rear passengers’ head restraints||S||S|
|Front seat cushion extenders||-||S|
|Front seat heating||S||S|
|Front seat ventilation||-||S|
|Front centre armrest||S||S|
|Rear armrest with dual cupholders, covered storage and ski-port||S||S|
|60/40 split-fold rear seats||S||S|
|Rear cargo blind (Sports Tourer only)||S||S|
|Rapid Cool interior decorative appliqués||S||-|
|Piano Black interior decorative appliqués||-||S|
|LED ambient lighting in roof console||S||S|
|LED ambient lighting in doors||S||S|
|Power windows with express up/down||S||S|
|Front and rear reading lights||S||S|
|Illuminated sunshade mirrors||S||S|
|Dual-zone climate control air-conditioning with humidity sensor||S||S|
|Anti-theft alarm with motion sensor||S||S|
|Front accessory power outlet||S||S|
|Cargo are accessory power outlet (Sports Tourer only)||S||S|
|Rear ventilation outlets|
|Steering wheel mounted audio controls||S||S|
|Bluetooth ® mobile phone connectivity with voice control||S||S|
|Leather covered steering wheel||S||-|
|Sports profile leather covered steering wheel||-||S|
|Premium instrument cluster with translucent rings||S||S|
|Power mirrors, heated||S||S|
|Front and rear park assist||S||S|
Bluetooth ® is a registered trademark and logo of Bluetooth SIG, Inc.
|Auto-dimming rear view mirror||S||S|
|Manual headlamp level adjustment||S||-|
|Automatic headlamps levelling||-||S|
|Automatic high-beam headlamp assist||-||S|
|Sports alloy pedals||-||S|
|CD400 audio system with CD player, AM/FM tuner and MP3 compatibility||S||-|
|Navi900 premium audio system with CD player, satellite navigation, AM/FM tuner, MP3 compatibility and SD card reader||O||S|
|Graphic information display||S||-|
|7” colour information display||O||S|
|USB input with iPod ® connectivity||S||S|
|7 premium audio speakers||S||S|
iPod ® is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
Opel Insignia: Options
Navigation Package – available Insignia Sedan and Insignia Sports Tourer only
• Navi900 premium audio system with CD player, AM/FM tuner, MP3 compatibility, SD card reader and picture viewer
• Full-colour satellite navigation with 2D/3D mapping and voice guidance
• 7” colour information display
• Centre console mounted turn/push controller
18” alloy wheels – available Insignia Sedan and Insignia Sports Tourer only
Opel Insignia: Pricing Summary
Premium Paint Navi Pack 18″ alloy wheels
|Opel Insignia Sedan||2.0T AT
|Opel Insignia Sports Tourer||2.0T AT
|Opel Insignia Select Sedan||2.0T AT
|Std Std||N/A N/A|
|Opel Insignia Select Sports Tourer||2.0T AT||$47,490||$695|
|Std Std||N/A N/A|
All prices displayed are recommended retail prices (RRP) and do not include dealer delivery or statutory charges