August 2, 2008 One of the biggest debuts at the 2008 British International Motor Show - and certainly the most floorspace - was claimed by the Opel Insignia, a new mid-size sedan that will offer seven different engine configurations and a number of technical innovations when it hits the showroom floor in Germany late this year and other markets from January 2009.
The technology packed into the Insignia includes a new Eye camera system that reads speed and no-passing signs and displays them on the instrument panel to provide an extra level of awareness to the driver.The camera is a high-resolution, 30fps wide-angle camera mounted on the windshield which is also used for a Lane Departure Warning system that lets you know if you veer offline.
Safety is also boosted by the latest generation of Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL) - a self-adjusting system that configures the light beam distribution of the headlamps according to road profile and visibility. There are nine light beam settings - town, traffic-restricted road, country, highway, adverse weather, static cornering, dynamic curve, high beam and energy efficient LED daytime running light.
Also notable is the "Hot Shot" heated washer fluid which helps visibility on the dead of winter.
Under the bonnet a choice of four gasoline or three direct-injection turbo-diesel engines will be offered, all with six-speed transmissions (either manual or automatic) and meeting Euro 5 emissions standards. The gasoline options range a four-cylinder 115 hp unit to a V6 with 260 hp and the 2.0 liter diesels from 110 to 160 hp. A 70-liter tank in the diesel models deliver an impressive driving range of over 1200 km according to GM.
Designed and to be built at the European Design Center in Rüsselsheim, Germany, which opened two years ago, the Insignia will appear in both notch and hatchback models which seek to bring a "sporty coupé shape to the mid-size sedan class without making any concessions in interior space".
More than 650 hours of wind tunnel tests have resulted in a streamlined body with a drag coefficient of 0.27. The fine details of this design include subtly curved front bumper corners and trunk lid spoiler edge plus the chiseled wing form used on the exterior mirror.
Inside there's three centimeters more knee room than the Vectra and the front seats, which boast active head restraints as standard, have a height adjustment range of 65 mm. The sport seat variant include four-way lumbar support, the ability to extend the length of the seat base via a pull-out front cushion section (which can also be tilted by three degrees) and optional power adjustment and fan ventilation are optional. Rear seating includes the option of side airbags in the outer seat backs. Infotainment consists of a seven-inch color monitor with 3-D mapping and digital travel guide. USB ports for PMPs are standard with directories listed on-screen and the turn/push controller on the center console is new to the Insignia - saving you the trouble of reaching for the duplicate control button on the audio unit in the dash.
The other key feature of the Insignia is its all new "Adaptive Chassis" which integrates GM's FlexRide system. This is a standard package for the Sport variant and can be oredered as an add-on for all but the entry level models. It is designed to give the driver a push-button choice between a stiffer, sporty ride (called Sport) or a softer setup (called Tour) in addition to the self-adapting standard mode. FlexRide works by controlling the characteristics of the dampers, gas pedal, ESP and steering as well as the all-wheel drive set up, the adaptive curve light function and automatic transmission. In Sport mode, FlexRide also raises the shift-points of the automatic transmission to a higher rpm and adjusts the Adaptive 4X4 system for more rear-wheel drive. The gas pedal also reacts faster, as does the adaptive lighting system and just in case you haven't noticed the change - the lighting on the instrument panel changes from white to red .
There's also additional levels of variation within the Sport mode - the electronically controlled dampers or all-wheel drive can be added or switched off for example.
FlexRide is also available in the front-wheel drive version.
Handling on the turbocharged gasoline variants is also boosted by an Adaptive 4X4 all-wheel drive system (this will be available on future diesel versions) which is made up of a Power Take-off Unit (PTU) in the front final-drive that transmits engine torque through a prop-shaft to the Rear Drive Module (RDM), which includes a Torque Transfer Device (TTD) and the optional rear Limited Slip Differential (eLSD).
Taking into account factors like the steering angle sensor and accelerator pedal position, the system adapt power distribution to particular driving situations.
Chassis control is taken a step further with the optional rear eLSD - this uses pressurized clutch plates to act on input from the rear wheel speed sensors and can transfer up to 50% of torque between the drive shafts, to whichever wheel has more grip.