OPEL will launch its flagship Insignia range in Australia with a pair of four-cylinder turbocharged engines and prices starting at $38,490 – a tick cheaper than the most affordable Volkswagen Passat.
The newest car brand in Australia is keeping its powder dry on the local launch of hotter variants, including the Insignia OPC with its stonking Holden-made 239kW 2.8-litre turbo V6 and grunty 143kW 2.0-litre CDTI BiTurbo diesel.
Instead, initial offerings will be a 2.0-litre direct-injected petrol four-cylinder delivering a handy 162kW of power and 350Nm of torque, and a 2.0-litre CDTI diesel loaded with 118kW and 350Nm.
Like the Passat, the mid-size Insignia – the 2009 European Car of the Year – will come in sedan and wagon body styles, but there is no sign of the five-door liftback available in Europe to match its other most logical European-built rival in this market, the Ford Mondeo.
The initial offerings here also skip the alternative 4x4 drivetrain on offer on premium models in Europe.
Both Euro 5 engines in the Australian Insignia range will be mated with a six-speed automatic transmission as standard and offered across the sedan and wagon ranges in two specification levels – Insignia and Insignia Select.
The German-built mid-sizer – the successor to the Vectra once sold under Holden badges in Australia – is built on GM’s Epsilon II architecture that also underpins the upcoming Holden Malibu and a raft of other models across the GM universe.
With Opel coming out from under the Holden shadow in Australia, General Motors’ European marque is hoping higher equipment levels on its Insignia will warm buyer interest in the relatively unknown brand as it tries to carve a niche in this country.
The entry Insignia – the base petrol sedan – is $7000 dearer than the base Ford Mondeo 2.3-litre LX hatch, but the Opel offers considerably more performance, with an extra 44kW of power, as well as more standard equipment.
A more logical Ford competitor for the base Insignia is the $37,770 Mondeo hatch, which is powered by a 149kW 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo engine.
The Passat’s base engines are the 118kW 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol – with a dual-clutch DSG transmission – and 125kW 2.0-litre diesel, while the range-topping 3.6-litre V6 packs 220kW.
With a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.8 seconds, the petrol Insignia can outpace all Mondeos and Passats except the punchy Passat V6, which does the dash in a brisk 5.5 seconds.
The Insignia diesel is not as sharp as the equivalent Passat, however, reaching 100km/h in 9.6 seconds compared with the Passat’s 8.6 seconds.
The Insignia’s petrol engine also loses out on fuel consumption compared to the less powerful Passat 1.8-litre engine, with the Insignia sedan using 8.8 litres per 100km to the Passat sedan’s 7.2L/100km, while the Insignia petrol Sports Tourer uses 9.0L/100km compared with the VW wagon’s 7.5L/100km.
The diesel Insignia is more of a match for the Passat, with the sedan recording an official combined fuel figure of 5.7L/100km – the same as the VW sedan – and 6.0L/100km for the Insignia diesel wagon (5.7L/100km for the Passat).
At 4830mm long, the five-seat Insignia sedan is only 60mm shorter than a Holden Commodore, and because of its compact front-wheel-drive packaging, gives the big Holden a run for its money in cabin spaciousness.
Compared with the Passat, it is 61mm longer and 36mm wider.
The Insignia Sports Tourer is 70mm longer than the Insignia sedan, but both vehicles have 500 litres of cargo space up to the glass line – four litres more than the Commodore sedan but 65 litres less than the cavernous Passat boot.
In Insignia, this expands to 1015L with the seats folded in the sedan and 1030L in the wagon (or 1530L loaded to the roof).
The wagon carries a $2000 price premium over the sedan at all levels, but is identically equipped, give or take a power outlet.
The premium for diesel models is $1500.
Pricing starts at $38,490 (plus on-road costs) for the petrol sedan and $40,490 for the wagon. The diesel-equipped base model is priced at $39,990 for the sedan and $41,990 for the wagon.
Standard equipment in the base model includes leather-trimmed seats (with heaters in the front), dual-zone climate-control with humidity sensor, auto halogen headlights, alarm, seven-speaker audio system, USB and Bluetooth connectivity and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Stepping up to the Select specification – with prices ranging from $45,490 for the petrol sedan to $48,990 for the diesel Sports Tourer – adds sat-nav with seven-inch screen (a $1500 option on the base model), 19-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime-running lamps, bi-Xenon headlights with adaptive forward lighting (AFL) system, front and rear fog lamps, rear lip spoiler on the sedan, premium seats with perforated leather and heating in the front, sports steering wheel and a premium sound system.
The advanced AFL lighting system can vary the light beam distribution width, direction and range for driving in the city, pedestrian areas, on country roads and highways, or to suit prevailing weather conditions.
As well, the system can adjust the lights for cornering and high beam adjustment.
A palette of seven colours will be offered, six of which cop a $695 charge for metallic paint.
The Insignia has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.