Opel/Vauxhall Insignia takes the “2008 Car Of The Year” award

Article by Christian A., on August 30, 2010

The Insignia is the foremost Opel to win in 22 years but General Motors' European company has been runner-up four times and in 2007 the Opel Corsa lost by just two points to the Ford S-Max.

Ford has won the award five times but this is the second time it has lost by just one point. This year's slim victory underscores the high level of competition this year, which has 37 original participants with seven finalists.

Of the 59 car of the Year judges representing a cross section of 23 European countries, 20 gave the Insignia top points, while 19 put the Fiesta in primary place. Opel has defined Insignia design as creativity with German exactness: best values at a reasonable price.

Many of the judges appreciated the appearance and visual traits of this model but the new C/D car from Russelsheim is much more than style. Dynamic and passive safety, comfort and a wide range of efficient engines mark this model.

The opulence of equipment can still be improved with sophisticated options consisting of the 'Opel Eye', that is capable of reading road signals, FlexRide suspension and nine-mode Adaptive Forward Lighting.

Exterior Design

The way the Insignia is designed shows a paradigm shift for the brand as it brings back emotion to Opel. The hatchback and notchback versions of the new model have a sporty roofline and muscular silhouette. The designers wanted to give the inside of the Insignia a premium feel and thus, they used the same design cues on the body’s sculpted shape for the interior.

The brand has long been known to make aerodynamic cars like the 1990 Calibra with a drag coefficient of 0.26. While the Insignia has a Cd of 0.27, the use of underbody shields make it more streamlined compared to its rivals. In addition, the flowing and sleek style was even optimized after more than 650 hours on the wind tunnel. As a result, the Open Insignia does not only have better driving dynamics but also offers lower fuel consumption.

Aside from the roofline and its body, there are other details on the Insignia that were fine-tuned to further improve its aerodynamics like the wing form of the exterior mirror, the trunk lid spoiler edge, the lower control arm of the rear axle, and the front bumper corners.

An ecoFLEX version is being designed that will have lower CO2 emissions and that will help in the development of future models. Similar to the trademark crease seen on the hood, the side has a blade form chiselled to it, which the brand expects to be part of the defining characteristics of future models. Another significant design element is the unique radiator grille that has sweeping front light forms and rear ones as well as come with the new Opel emblem.

The narrow shape of its wing lighting signature is yet another example of the Insignia design DNA. Vice President of Design for GM Europe Mark Adams shares that the company has managed to redefine its design vocabulary with the principle of the Insignia being 'sculptural artistry meets German precision.' The brand has managed to make a beautiful and fluid shape which is highlighted by the confident intersecting lines, he adds. The result is that the Insignia becomes a sporty and muscular car that has grace and elegance.

It was designed to bring emotion back not just to Opel but to the Vauxhall brand as well, Adams continues. The design of the exterior shows that the Insignia offers thrilling mobility.

Interior Design

The interior was created using materials of high quality. The dashboard for example envelops the instrument panel and goes all the way to the door as if to embrace the occupants. Its "blade" graphic seen on the exterior is reflected by the central gear-shift lever, the steering wheel, and even the door grab handle on the interior.

The designers were also meticulous not just in refining the surfaces but also in shaping the intersecting lines and colors. They even tested the textures and the feel of the materials to make sure that the surface finishes were of high quality.

To make sure that the Insignia was practical, priority was also given to the storage compartments and the ergonomics. Finally, the interior will have the orange-red ambient light which will be included in future models.

Powertrain

Opel Insignia manages to bring the design of a sporty coupé to a mid-size sedan without compromising any of the space in the cabin. The way it is styled can be described as German precision combined with sculptural artistry.

This will be the same principle that Opel intends to implement on its new models. Unlike the Vectra, the Insignia’s knee room has an additional three centimeters. With a Cd of 0.27, it is indeed aerodynamic which helps with its acoustic qualities and even the dynamic and economic characteristics. While two body versions are available, both have the same length of 4,830 mm and even wheelbase of 2,737 mm.

This latest model will be available in various dealerships in Germany by the end of 2008. Other markets however will have this by January 2009. The entire line-up will have seven engines. All of the engines are able to meet all the Euro 5 emissions standards. In addition, they are paired with a six-speed transmission with the choice of having it in automatic or manual version.

Of the seven engines, four are gasoline engines which range from a four-cylinder unit that can deliver 115 hp to a V6 engine that can give 260 hp. The remaining three are turbocharged direct-injection diesel engines with a 2.0-liter displacement and made specifically for the Insignia.

The power delivered ranges from 100 hp to 160 hp while torque is between 260 Nm and 350 Nm. All engines have competitive CO2 emissions as well.

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