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Insignia set for Oz

Medium rare: Insignia is Opel's all-new 3 Series fighter in Europe.

Holden will sell Opel's Vectra successor, the Insignia, alongside the cheaper Epica

11 Aug 2008

HOLDEN is believed to be preparing a twin mid-sized family car attack that will cover both the cheap and ‘prestige’ end of the segment.

In the surprise move that is set to mirror Honda’s successful two-pronged Accord/Accord Euro strategy, the Insignia – Opel’s new mid-sized glamour car that debuted late last month at the London motor show – will arrive in Australia priced between $35,000 and $50,000.

This would put it in the firing line against established mid-sized combatants such as the Mazda6, Volkswagen Passat and Citroen C5, as well as the Ford Mondeo, when it arrives later next year.

This will leave the cheaper Epica to battle the Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Magentis in the fleet and economy end of the mid-sized class.

It is unclear which Insignia bodystyle(s) will arrive, but the four-door sedan and five-door liftback are likely. The as-yet-unreleased wagon might also be imported.

A next-generation Epica is also on the cards for Australia, as the current model dates back to the Daewoo V200 Magnus/Evanda of 2000 – itself a rebodied version of the 1997 V100 Leganza.

However, do not expect the next all-new Epica to debut before the new decade.

Unlike its boxy Vectra predecessor, the German-built Insignia has an almost coupe-like appearance, and introduces a new styling direction for Opel.

In contrast, the next Epica will reportedly wear a less streamlined set of clothes than its German-engineered cousin, to match its more family-orientated role in GM’s line-up.

52 center image And, like today’s Epica (also known as Tosca, which is an acronym for “Tomorrow Standard Car”), it will be built by GM Daewoo Auto and Technology in South Korea to keep the price down for Holden as well as GM’s burgeoning global budget brand, Chevrolet.

Both the Insignia and next-generation Epica are expected to be related under the skin, sharing some crucial chassis hardware.

But while it is thought that the front-wheel drive Epsilon platform, which debuted underneath the outgoing Vectra in 2002, will underpin the next Epica, the Insignia will share the newer and more sophisticated Epsilon II architecture.

This is in line with its loftier role as GM Europe’s alternative to sportier sedans like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.

Whether the Insignia will be solely front-wheel drive or offer the trick new all-wheel system developed by Haldex in Sweden is still unknown.

Other Insignia features include an improved version of Opel’s IDS-Plus “active” chassis system and Euro 5 emissions-compliant engine options, mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.

Among the powerplants are a new 120kW 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, and a 195kW 3.2-litre V6 petrol.

Other brands within GM’s portfolio will also leverage Epsilon II, including Saab for its 9-3 and (long overdue) 9-5 replacements, plus Cadillac and Saturn in the United States.

The Insignia will mark the return of the mid-sized Opel to Australia, after the demise of the unsuccessful ZC Vectra in late 2006.

It will also represent the fifth name change for a medium-sized Holden since the Sunbird disappeared in 1980. Since then we have had Camira (1982), Apollo (1989), Vectra (1997) and Epica (2007).

Read more:

Beijing show: GM signals Insignia

First look: Vectra becomes Insignia

First drive: Epica ups Holden's medium ante

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