Opel turns the Insignia into a slick SUV fighter
Just a week after BMW unveiled a new 5 Series Touring, Opel has turned the Insignia Grand Sport into a slick four-wheel drive fighter. The Insignia Sports Tourer might be blessed with the same good looks and luxurious interior as the sedan launched last year, but there's even more space for kids, pets and luggage down back. Could it convince you to join the wagon club?
As is the case with the sedan, Opel has trimmed back the fat for a fitter, more engaging Sports Tourer. Depending on trim, the new car is up to 200 kg (441 lb) lighter than its predecessor, which will benefit everything from handling to efficiency. In spite of the impressive weight reduction, the wagon has actually grown in every direction, and now has an extra 100 liters (3.5 cubic feet) of luggage space with the rear seats folded.
Luggage isn't the only thing with more space, as passengers have also been treated to a more capacious rear seat. There's an extra 25 mm (0.98 in) of shoulder room, 27 mm (1.06 in) more hip room and 31 mm (1.22 in) more headroom back there, and the optional panoramic sunroof should help make it feel lighter and more spacious as well. Up front, the driver benefits from a new cockpit design that ditches the outgoing button-heavy center console for a clean new layout. The console is tilted towards the hot seat too, just like it is in an old BMW.
Also featured is the GKN Twinster all-wheel drive system from the Ford Focus RS, which is fitted as standard to all Sport Tourers. Although it's able to send all of the torque to one individual wheel, just like it can in the Focus RS, Opel hasn't mentioned whether a Drift Mode will be available on the faster VXR Insignia – but the setup's bag of torque-vectoring, power-shuffling tricks bode well nonetheless.
Drivers will also be pleased to know all cars come standard with a set of adaptive Flex Ride dampers, just like the sedan. When you're done fiddling around with the dampers, there are plenty of other toys in the cabin to learn about. The central touchscreen comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there's wireless phone charging in the glovebox as well. A heads-up display is optional as well, perfect for making the morning commute feel like a low-level strafe in a fighter jet.
As you'd expect of a modern family car, the full range of active safety features are available on the Sports Tourer. Along with the requisite active cruise control, there's lane-keeping assist and rear cross-traffic alerts. These systems aren't quite as sophisticated as the setups on the Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5 Series, but the fact you can now buy an Opel family wagon with similar technology to the (much more expensive) class leaders is impressive, and proves GM is serious about trying to push its European brands upmarket.
Although all of this looks good on paper, there are still a few questions that need answering about the Insignia. In Australia, this car will be sold as the new Holden Commodore. Like the (recently deceased) Ford Falcon, the Commodore is an iconic nameplate, and buyers are likely to be skeptical of this now overseas imposter. Sure, the Insignia could be the car to kickstart a new era for GM Australia, but it could also undermine a brand already reeling from the loss of local manufacturing.
It's a similar story in the US, where the car will be sold as a Buick. A good Insignia could breathe life back into a brand largely viewed as a maker of cars for retirees, but a bad one will make it tough to shift the also-ran tag. And, finally, the car will be badged as a Vauxhall in the UK, where it goes head-to-head with the immensely popular Ford Mondeo. To say this is an important car is an understatement of huge proportions.
Opel hasn't released details about pricing yet, but you can expect to see the Sports Tourer on the floor of the Geneva Motor Show next month, where New Atlas will be covering all the action.