OPEL INSIGNIA REVIEW
What's hot: Elegant interior style, both imperiously swift on road
What's not: Starting to date, road noise on coarse surfaces
X-Factor: German engineering with that typical Teutonic sporting feel and dynamics, but not the typical price
|Model||Power/Torque||Listed Fuel Use|
|Select Sedan 2.0T Petrol auto||162kW/350Nm||8.8 l/100km|
|Sports Tourer 2.0T Diesel auto||118kW/350Nm||6.0 l/100km|
Fuel consumption (on test):
- Select Sedan 2.0T Petrol auto (on test) - 9.7 l/100km
- 2.0T Diesel auto (on test) - 6.7 l/100km
Being new, the latest thing, is a powerful 'persuader'. Not being the latest - even if worthy, even if better than merely good - is a hurdle. That's the issue for Opel with the Insignia.
It was Europe's Car of The Year in 2009, launched there in 2008, and we can affirm that it is a very good drive.
Both the diesel wagon and petrol turbo sedan tested here have a European sporting edge and on-road elan that is missing among many of its medium segment competitors.
But it's arguably arriving here four years later than it should. Will it sell? That's the question.
If on merit, if on the superior way the Opel Insignia drives and the value it packs into its price, it certainly should succeed.
But, unlike the crisp modern lines and performance of the new Opel Astra, the Insignia, while certainly handsome, is a bit like yesterday's lunch: it was tasty once, but now... ?
For sure though, put it on the list; here are the reasons why.
Quality: No complaints with this interior; the quality of materials and fit and finish is first class. It is an elegant interior with a real sense of style.
Both the higher-specified Select sedan and Sports Tourer wagon can match Volkswagen's Passat for quality, but with a warmer and more appealing interior feel.
Few at the same price point, can match the style, robust quality and understated lines of the Opel. So chalk one up here for the Insignia.
Comfort: The seats are generously shaped and very comfortable. While the Tourer's 'sienna' leather seats are bettered by the perforated leather of the Select sedan, each offer segment-leading comfort and support.
The Select model's front seats are also AGR (Aktion Gesunder Rüken e.V.) accredited, an award for ergonomic excellence from the German back-health organisation.
The steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake, and there is ample seat adjustment to get settled at the wheel.
Features: Buyers in this family-segment place a lot of value on standard-fit 'bells and whistles', and Opel knows it. And, for the price, the Insignia is generously kitted.
In this, it's more Japanese than German: things that might otherwise sit on the options list, are standard.
The Sports Tourer Wagon comes with leather-bound multi-function steering wheel and leather seats (heated front), cruise control, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlamps, seven-speaker audio with USB and iPod connectivity, Bluetooth and 17-inch alloys.
Sat-nav is a $1500 option; also a cost-option are 18-inch alloys. And, any colour other than Summit White costs a further $695.
Stepping up a grade, the Insignia Select sedan adds standard sat-nav with a seven-inch display, LED daytime running lamps, bi-xenon headlamps, adaptive forward lighting (with nine different lighting modes), perforated leather trim, extendable front cushions, sports steering wheel and alloy pedals.
Storage: The boot in the sedan is huge - at 500 litres, it offers the same space to the seat backs as the Tourer Wagon.
Fold the wagon's rear seats down and it opens up 1030 litres of cargo space (to the window line), 1530 litres to the roofline; the sedan offers 1015 litres with rear seats folded flat.
There are also the now-expected nooks and crannies for small items, plus the obligatory cup-holders.
ON THE ROAD I
Driveability: The 2.0 litre petrol turbo goes like the clappers. Its figures, 162kW and 350Nm put it ahead of the EcoBoost Mondeo (149kW/300Nm), and well ahead of the Passat 118TSI's 118kW and 250Nm (the closer-matched V6 FSI is more than $10k dearer than the Opel).
And it's got winged heels if you bury the shoe. There's an apparent turbo whistle when its 'on it', but the Insignia 2.0T is deceptively rapid.
Opel is claiming a 7.8 seconds time for the 0-100kmh dash; that would be right. It's not so quick off the line, but, thanks to a very wide torque band (2000-4000rpm), it really gathers its skirts once on the move.
There is a hint of turbo lag: a mere catching of the breath disguised by the kickdown in the six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, then it bolts.
For overtaking, or getting out of a corner, it's just a matter of "point and shoot". Pile on the revs too early though and the 2.0T petrol will push wider when cornering quickly with some expected torque-steer tugging at the wheel.
It's a matter of picking the corner right. For rapid point-to-point driving in a powerful front-driver, lifting-off deep into the apex will tuck the nose in (with a light, quick dab on the brakes if really carrying some speed), you can then get the boot in on exit without a shower of understeer and squealing tyres.
Shifts through the six-speed automatic are as rapid as any modern European sporting saloon - you can paddle it manually if you wish, but there's little point.
The diesel too is very strong and quite seriously quick once rolling. With 118kW and 350Nm, it is noticeably slower from standstill than the turbo petrol models, but similarly eager in the mid-gears and in rolling acceleration.
It will dash to 100kmh in a respectable 10.1 seconds, and swallows hills effortlessly on the highway.
Refinement: The Ecotec VVT turbo petrol spins effortlessly and with a rising sporting rasp right through the rev range. It combines rorty sporting verve with superb balance and refinement.
The 2.0T diesel is similarly refined, and certainly among the better diesels in what is now, admittedly, a segment with few poor performers. Diesel technology has come a long way.
The Insignia has a downside here though: on coarse bitumen it transmitted more noise into the cabin than we expected. It's not as well attenuated, for instance, as the equivalent Titanium-spec Mondeo.
Suspension: This is a suspension that is 'just right'. Who ever thought we would say that about a mid-priced German car?
Sporting, yes, in the finest tradition of all those low-flying autobahn rockets, but not screwed down so uncompromisingly 'tight' that every ripple and every break is like an electric shock.
The sporting Insignia has an appealing suppleness to the ride, but grip levels are very high and it can be belted around a winding road (most particularly the sedan).
Suspension is a conventional McPherson strut front, and multilink rear for both sedan and wagon bodystyles.
The steering is well-weighted, but better in the petrol sedan which has a hydraulic system than the diesel's hydro-electric set-up. But while both cars can be accurately placed into a turn, there's an Audi-like woodenness to the feel.
The Insignia doesn't have the alive and satisfying steering feel of the BMW 3 Series... but it's a lot, lot cheaper.
Brakes: Pedal feel and braking performance is at the top of the class, with secure stopping power and the right feedback through the pedal.
ANCAP Rating: Not tested (5 Star Euro NCAP rating may be adopted locally, however.)
Safety features: There are dual front, side and curtain airbags, electronic stability control, traction control and ABS as standard. The Tourer Sports also features two-way active head restraints; with four-way active head restraints on the Select.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING:
Warranty and servicing information it's a case of 'watch this space' at the moment.
Opel is expected to soon announce a fixed-price servicing offer across its model range, to be in place before its September 1 launch.
HOW IT COMPARES I
Ford's Mondeo is a very good performer: the diesel 120kW/340Nm and EcoBoost petrol 149kW/400Nm are willing on the highway, ride very well, even on rougher roads, and are robustly engineered. (see Mondeo reviews)
That's to be corrected pretty soon, in the meantime the diesel wagon (with 136kW and 400Nm) holds quite a price advantage over the Insignia. But both Opels are more refined, sharper on-road, and better featured. (see Mazda6 reviews)
And, though it's a close thing, the Opel perhaps betters the Passat on price and on-road performance. But the Passat is a very accomplished car and carries more brand cachet in that VW badge. (see Passat reviews)
TMR VERDICT I
Dynamically, the Insignia is a very well-sorted car. If we seem impressed, we are.
Perhaps all those years of developing and refining the product are showing. This nearly five-year-old model is considerably sharper at the wheel than many - most, in fact - of the all-new entries into the medium segment we've seen over the past year or so.
For dynamics, the Insignia has the up-specced i45 and stylish Optima shot to bits. Both the wagon and sedan are also more refined, and with a more sporting soul, than the equivalent but soon-to-be replaced Mazda6.
So that puts Opel's Insignia near the top of our list. If you're shopping in this segment, you should take a look come September 1.
- Related News & Reviews at TMR ▼
- Insignia news and reviews | Opel news and reviews
- Family Car news and reviews
- Insignia Sedan 2.0T Petrol auto - $38,490
- Insignia Sedan 2.0T Diesel auto - $39,990
- Insignia Select Sedan 2.0T Petrol auto - $44,990
Insignia Select Sedan 2.0T Diesel auto - $46,490
Sports Tourer wagon
- Insignia Sports Tourer 2.0T Petrol auto - $40,490
- Insignia Sports Tourer 2.0T Diesel auto - $41,990
- Insignia Select Sports Tourer 2.0T Petrol auto - $46,990
- Insignia Select Sports Tourer 2.0T Diesel auto - $48,490
Note: prices exclude on-road costs.