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The insignia of the bourgeoisie

Opel is starting afresh with a new design for the Insignia, its mid-range model that is the latest salvo in the carmaker’s ongoing battle with Ford and Volkswagen. So will it cruise the reviews or stall at the first fence? The Diplomat – Bucharest got behind the wheel and gave it a spin. Bogdan Verdes

June 2011 - From the Print Edition

In the past few years, Opel has made noticeable progress, launching new models – each with different innovations – as the carmaker aims to up its market share, especially on the German market, where it is engaged in an all-time epic battle with Ford and Volkswagen.
The Diplomat – Bucharest tested the Insignia model, which is Opel’s contender in the mid-range segment, successor to the Vectra. The name change and the brand new fluid design illustrate the Russelsheim producer’s intentions to start afresh.
The Insignia is available in three body styles: four-door limo, five-door limo and sports tourer. Our driver road-tested the first model as it is probably top choice on the local market thanks to Romanians’ well-known taste for classic limousines. Viewed from the outside, the car has a well thought out design, the large tyres creating added value for the entire picture, as do the xenon lights and the dynamic line.
A significant impediment remains the awkward access to the trunk – the dynamic line of the car being a factor – for instance, the form of trunk lid results from the intersection between irregular curb lines.
Moving to the interior, the leather-seated chairs catch the eye with lots and lots of adjustments. The majority of these are electrical and identical for both the driver and the right-side passenger seat. This is noteworthy as for the majority of mid-range models – because of budget constraints – carmakers deprive the buyer of adjustments for the right side chair. The back seats are well-designed for two passengers but a possible third would face a squeeze.
The dashboard has a modern design and the massive centre console has lots of buttons, maybe too many for someone who should be watching the road rather than testing them.
What’s really disappointing is that they are lacking a design sparkle, a quirk that could add elegance to the console. The plastic used above the dashboard is of high quality, but is jarring compared with that used for the interior design of the doors, which betray the points where the carmaker has made some savings. However, the audio system easily qualifies as a plus for the Insignia and one forgets about all the little problems when listening to good music on long drives.
The gearbox is well tiered, but the Common Rail Diesel Turbo Injection (CDTI) engine is very noisy. The car responds well to bends, but let’s not forget that the tested model was the all-wheel drive version, and the sports model clearly has the best feel.

There is a flipside. The average fuel consumption is quite high for a diesel engine, 8 liters per 100 kilometers not being ideal. However, we have to take into account that the tested car had less than 1,000 kilometers on the clock and consumption tends to decrease after the car has finished grinding.
Insignia – the plural form for emblem or symbol – is a token of personal power or status, an elitist note in keeping with the not inconsiderable cost of the vehicle.

Vital statistics
Insignia tested version
Engine: 2.0 CDTI 160 CP
Body: 4 doors
Equipment level: Sport
Displacement: 1956
Gearbox: 6 manual
Pollution norm: EURO 5
Traction: 4x4
Price: 28,595 Euro including VAT



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