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Fresh flagship: The 2012 Insignia will top next year’s born-again Opel range in Australia.

Facelifted Insignia revealed as new Opel Australia website previews 2012 model range

11 Aug 2011

OPEL has revealed the facelifted Insignia that will top its Australian model line-up when Holden reintroduces GM’s European brand here in the second half of next year.

The 2012 mid-size model range and broader availability of Opel’s fuel-saving ecoFLEX vehicles were announced in Europe after GM launched Opel’s official Australian website, providing a valuable indication of the local model range with which GM Holden will target Volkswagen.

GM has already announced the Corsa, Astra and Insignia will be the three key models with which Opel will be launched here next year, and today told GoAuto the brand’s new website is “not necessarily indicative of what will be offered in Australia” but designed “to show what Opel can do”.

A GM spokesperson said Opel’s advanced Ampera plug-in hybrid will not be sold in Australia because of its mechanical similarities to the Chevrolet Volt, which will go on sale here as a Holden next year.

Nevertheless, taking pride of place in Opel’s online ‘showroom’ in Australia are the Insignia sedan and wagon – but not the hatch - suggesting the German-based brand will not have a direct rival for Volkswagen’s Passat CC, Ford’s Mondeo hatch or the Mazda6 hatch.

Expected to be priced above the all-new Holden Malibu mid-size sedan - which is also due for release here next year – with a starting price above $35,000, the Insignia was this week revealed in facelifted MY2012 guise in Germany.

Chief among the changes is the addition of the turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine that is now available in the Australian-assembled Cruze sedan range, and the new Rack Assist Electric Power Steering (REPS) system.

Producing the same 103kW as the 1.8-litre petrol four it replaces in the Insignia, Opel says the 200Nm 1.4T combines with idle-stop technology to make the Insignia ecoFLEX manual sedan the most efficient petrol model in its class with fuel consumption of just 5.7L/100km – 25 per cent less than before.

52 center imageOpel models (from top): Corsa, Astra, Astra Sports Tourer, Astra GTC, Zafira, Meriva, Combo and Ampera.

At the same time, the European Insignia range is joined by a new direct-injection 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine delivering 185kW and a beefy 400Nm of torque, driving all four wheels via six-speed manual or automatic transmissions to 100km/h in about 7.5 seconds while returning 8.4L/100km with an idle-stop system.

A front-drive 2.0-litre turbo Insignia with idle-stop and the same 162kW pre-upgrade engine is now also available in Europe, where new Insignia features include two new hard-drive infotainment systems, an upgraded front camera system and a wider choice of leather/trim choices.

The Insignia OPC sedan remains Opel’s performance flagship and is almost certain to make an eventual appearance in Australian showrooms.

Opel this week also announced Start/Stop-equipped ecoFLEX versions of the Corsa, Astra and Meriva, more than doubling the ecoFLEX range of models to over 60.

Pictured on the Australian Opel website only in three-door form, the Corsa will open the range here in the absence of Europe’s even smaller 1.0-litre Agila hatch.

Priced above Holen's forthcoming Barina but from under $20,000, the Corsa will go head to head with light-sized European like the VW Polo, Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 207.

The same idle-stop system already seen in diesel Corsas in Europe is now available for petrol models there, where a new LPG-compatible 1.2-litre variant was also released this week. At the other end of the Corsa range in Europe is OPC Nürburgring Edition, powered by a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four offering no less than 155kW.

Opel’s Australian reintroduction will mark the return of GM’s Astra nameplate, which should be available on both five-door hatch and, probably, new Sports Tourer (wagon) body styles, priced above Holden's Adelaide-made Cruze sedan and hatch from around $25,000.

The ecoFLEX treatment has resulted in the most fuel-efficient Astra ever, with the five-door Astra CDTI’s 1.7-litre diesel engine returning a Prius-beating 3.7L/100km and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km.

The production GTC Coupe should top Australia’s Astra range, which could also be joined by Opel’s upcoming Astra convertible.

The brand-new Zafira people-mover is likely to join those three core model lines in the local line-up, but a surprising appearance on the local Opel website is made by the suicide-doored compact Meriva people-mover, which Holden has confirmed is also under serious consideration here.

Fitted with idle-stop and a 1.3 CDTI diesel engine, this week’s new Meriva ecoFLEX emits just 109g/km and is available in Europe with the same new Navi 600 and Navi 900 Europa infotainment systems as the 2012 Insignia and Astra models.

Holden is yet to reveal the Australian future of Opel's new compact Combo van, but the larger Movano and Vivaro commercial vans will most certainly not be part of the local Opel line-up.

GM last month issued a statement denying rumours it plans to backflip on its 2009 decision not to sell Opel, and this week told analysts in Detroit it intends to move its struggling European brand more upmarket to better compete with VW.

Last year VW topped the European sales charts with 1.865 million registrations and a 9.8 per cent market share, ahead of Renault (1.539 million, 8.1 per cent), Ford (1.520m, 8.0 per cent), Peugeot (1.264m, 6.7) and Opel (1.178m, 6.2 per cent).

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