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British show: GM signals Insignia

Premium: Vectra successor comes with AWD and V6 power.

Insignia emerges as Vectra replacement in Europe, but is unlikely to hit Australia

21 Apr 2008

THE replacement for General Motors’ mid-sized Vectra has officially broken cover in Europe, with the Insignia’s slow-release reveal campaign set to culminate in its world public debut at the British International Motor Show on July 22.

To be available in both sedan and hatchback bodystyles from its launch in Europe later this year, the all-new Insignia is not expected to be an overdue replacement for the Vectra in Australia, where the mid-sized Holden sedan, hatch and wagon range was discontinued in December 2006 and then effectively replaced by the GM Daewoo-sourced Epica sedan in March 2007.

Officially, GM Holden says it doesn’t comment on future products, but it would take a backflip on its Korean sourcing policy for the Australian GM subsidiary to make the Insignia available here.

That’s a shame, because with hardware including all-wheel drive, an “active chassis” and five engines from launch – all wrapped up in stylish, coupe-like four and five-door body designs – the Vectra successor is expected to bring serious competition to Ford’s slick Mondeo range, which is highly regarded in Europe but struggles to match the popularity of Holden’s cut-price Epica here.

52 center imageThe Insignia would also give Holden a premium mid-sized alternative to other European mid-sizers like Volkswagen’s Jetta and the Skoda Octavia, as well as premium Japanese models like the new Mazda6, Subaru’s Liberty and Honda’s upcoming Accord Euro.

With a grille featuring a new-look Vauxhall emblem (for the UK), the GM Europe-designed Insignia also benefited from significant input from Vauxhall’s engineering centre at Millbrook in Bedfordshire, UK.

“We’ve redefined our design vocabulary,” said GM Europe vice-president of design, Mark Adams. “The Insignia is muscular, but lithe and curvaceous. Our aim was to develop a confident look which reinforced the car’s superb driving dynamics, but also one that made it clear that this was a premium product, albeit still at a highly competitive price in its class.”

GM says new levels of interior luxury, style and quality are part of the Insignia’s premium-ness. The cabin features a wrap-around dashboard design that extends to the doors and new seats are said to set “the highest standards in ergonomics, comfort and safety”.

As the Opel and Vauxhall flagship in Europe, the Insignia will also feature new ambient lighting that will appear in other future models, while latest-generation adaptive forward lights (AFL) features nine different light beam settings that automatically adjust themselves to suit different driving conditions.

“As each feature demonstrates, the Insignia is the result of our quest to develop a car that combines striking design, excellent driving dynamics and innovative technology,” said GM Europe engineering vice-president, Hans Demant.

To be available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel configurations, the Insignia rides on an improved IDSPlus “active” chassis system, while a new “Adaptive 4X4” drivetrain is claimed to deliver “proactive, instantaneous torque distribution” to enhance traction and handling performance.

The Insignia’s five Euro 5 emissions-compliant launch engines are mated to either six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. While a low-emissions EcoFlex engine and high-performance engines will be added to the range, for now they comprise three petrol engines (ranging from a 105kW four-cylinder to a 195kW V6) and two new 2.0-litre direct-injection diesel engines, offering 97 and 120kW.

“The Insignia is one of our most ambitious projects to date, and we will be revealing the full extent of our technological progress when the car is officially launched at the British International Motor Show in London,” said Vauxhall Motors’ marketing director Andy Gilson.

Read more:

First look: Vectra becomes Insignia

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