Car reviews - Opel - Insignia - OPC
Design, smoothness, AWD balance and grip, V6 performance, refinement, value, features, safety, comfort, space, relative ride quality
Room for improvement
Lacks alacrity, doesn’t interact with driver, confusing centre console, not really a fun sports sedan despite the extra oomph and chassis mods
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13 Feb 2013
SOMEONE handsome has been to the gym!
The regular Insignia has already left its mark on us in $50K Select 2.0T guise as a rapid, rewarding, and luxurious family car alternative brimming with style, value, and kit.
Sure, there are more dynamic rivals – namely the Ford Mondeo and VW Passat that it goes head-to-head with in Europe – but the Opel remains a bit of a secret gem among the mainstream-to-aspirational mid-sizer set.
Euro prestige buyers can do a lot worse here.
But does the OPC version take the Insignia to a whole new level?
With its beefier body, turbo V6 muscle, all-wheel drive and uprated chassis, Opel ought to have the performance sedan market all sewn up.
But in reality, the fastest and most expensive Insignia is a bit of an enigma.
Despite possessing a whole lot more power and torque than the normal mid-range Select (239kW/435Nm 2.8 turbo V6 versus a still none-too-shabby 162kW/350Nm 2.0 turbo four-pot), the newcomer feels neither sportier nor more dynamic.
Yes, step-off acceleration starts off strongly and then just keeps rocketing ahead with unseemly haste, with a suitably fruity exhaust note to boot.
But the auto transmission could be a bit more reactive to driver inputs and the driver never really feel connected with the whole moving or driving experience.
Maybe the extra mass of the V6 up front and all-wheel drive gear in the rear have something to do with it, but the eager sprightliness of the smaller-engined Insignias is gone, replaced by a weightier and altogether heftier sedan of somehow more cumbersome proportions.
Furthermore, while the steering feels eager and planted, tactile and communicative it is not., The ride is firm, but not uncomfortably so – even in the stiffer adjustable damper setting – and the cabin transmitted some road noise in over several of the rural NSW bitumen varieties we tested it on.
That’s no surprise – this is a German car after all.
Sporadic rain periods over some fun terrain did not diminish the OPC’s grip or civilised behaviour, while on the dry straights the Insignia felt absolutely glued to the blacktop.
A stint around the Eastern Creek racetrack underlined the punchy V6’s big-time power delivery and steadfast chassis neutrality when clumsily pushed wide into a corner, but there does not seem to be the athletic interactivity that, say, a fast BMW or Mercedes offers.
Tellingly, the brilliant little Astra OPC also on the launch drive (and track) quickly eclipsed this as the preferred driver’s device – come rain or shine.
However, against the double-the-price Audi S4, or far exxier Volvo S80, the Insignia OPC stands seriously tall as a sensible yet sexy value alternative.
We do need to drive it far more, and on more representative urban roads, before a definitive judgement can be made, but right now we think the underrated Insignia Select 2.0T in either of its body styles might be the more prudent and enjoyable mid-sized Opel.
Our advice is to flex your brain by bypassing the brawniest Insignia for the best value version.
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