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First look: Vectra becomes Insignia

Disguised: Opel/Vauxhaull mid-sizer "spied" in testing ahead of a July debut.

Tired of pesky prototype paparazzi, Vauxhall snaps its own camoflauged Insignia

4 Apr 2008

EUROPEAN General Motors affiliates Vauxhall and Opel continue to stage a slow-release reveal of the car that will replace the Vectra in the UK and on the continent respectively this year (and possibly the Saturn Aura in the US too), the Insignia.

Only time will tell whether GM Holden chooses to try again with the premium mid-size model in Australia – after unapologetically dropping the nameplate in 2006 in favour of GM Daewoo’s less expensive Epica from March 2007 - as a rival for the likes of the new Ford Mondeo and Mazda6, and Honda’s upcoming new Accord Euro.

In a move that now renders pointless efforts by what it describes as “prototype paparazzi” to demand exorbitant prices for spy shots of the production Insignia ahead of its official unveiling at the London motor show on July 22, Vauxhall has issued a collection of its own “spy” shots showing one of the 200 Insignia prototypes that are currently undergoing public-road validation testing.

52 center imageVauxhall has described in detail the importance of concealing pre-production vehicles from both the media and rival car-makers ahead of launch, and in this case has employed a fake rear wing to obscure the “especially elegant, flowing rear section” of one variant of the model line it claims will cause a sensation in its class.

Instead of the traditional black-and-white chessboard pattern, the Insignia pictured features “Fishies” camouflage – fish-shaped diamonds designed to confuse camera lenses and human eye. In combination with contrasting covers to obscure body surfaces, prototypes are also covered in special adhesive to mask characteristics like window lines, as well as foil – sometimes shimmed with foam, to change the car’s contours.

The Insignia was first previewed by the GTC concept car and then partially revealed in production guise with the release of a moody tail-light shot last November, when it confirmed the Insignia nameplate will replace the Vectra model name that was launched in Europe in 1998 before attracting almost 5.5 million sales.

Then in early March another darkened image of the Insignia front-end was released, and now later last month Vauxhall has presented the whole (camouflaged) car in both front, side and rear views.

Like the Mondeo and Mazda6, the Insignia will be available as an entire model family, comprising sedan, hatch and wagon bodystyles – all wider and taller than the current ZC-series released in Australia (in sedan and hatch guises) in March 2003.

Based on the new front-drive Epsilon II platform, GM’s bigger and roomier new Euro-medium is expected to come with 2.2-litre four-cylinder and 2.8-litre V6 power, and could even include an all-wheel drive 2.7-litre turbo-diesel V6 range-topper. Like the Vectra, the Insignia will be built at Opel’s Russelsheim home plant in Germany.

Top-shelf Insignias will get a system called Traffic Assist, which uses lasers and video cameras to scan the road ahead for warning signs, lane markings and other traffic, leading some to describe the Opel flagship as the world’s first mass-produced ‘driverless’ car.

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