Opel Insignia Grand Sport


Debut: 2017
Maker: Opel
Predecessor: Insignia (2008)



 Published on 3 Apr 2017
All rights reserved. 


Insignia Grand Sport is the last Opel developed fully under the ownership of GM.


The launch of the second generation Opel Insignia, or officially Insignia Grand Sport, could not come at a worse timing. Just before it went on sale, parent company GM announced the sale of its European operation to PSA group, ending an ownership that dates back to 1929. In the past 5 years or so, Opel has been working hard to turn around itself. It has renewed all its model lines, added the niche Adam and is replacing its old-fashioned MPVs with crossovers. It tried to build a green image by badge-engineering Chevrolet Volt to Ampera. It supplied the old Insignia to Buick and is offering the new car to replace Holden Commodore. In short, it tried everything it can but, somehow, failed to turn black. In fact, it has been losing money in each of the past 16 years. So frustrated that the American opted to quit Europe altogether. Consequently, Insignia Grand Sport becomes the last Opel developed fully under the ownership of GM.

Coincidence or not, the Insignia GS is also the most American-like big car. For starter, it is a lot larger than the old car, being 4.9m long, 1.86m wide and runs a 2829mm wheelbase – the latter is 92mm up from the last generation. Its sleek, handsome shape returns a Cd of only 0.26, while the expressive design owes more to American than German school. Rebadge it as a Buick and no one would feel strange. Its low roof line – some 29mm lower than before – and steeply raked C-pillar may earn it equal status to Audi A5 Sportback or Volkswagen Arteon (new CC), yet the Opel is as affordable as ever. Like American saloons, it offers more space and kits for the money.



Steeply raked C-pillar may earn it equal status to Audi A5 Sportback, yet the Opel is as affordable as ever.


Inside, it is remarkably close to Buick, too. The interior design is quite stylish. Infotainment system is up to date, if not outstanding. Materials are generally high quality, although the lower half of the dashboard is made of hard plastics to save cost. Switchgears, fit and finish are not quite premium grade, but it is probably higher than Ford Mondeo/Fusion’s. The seats are supportive and comfortable. Driving position is good and ergonomics is sounded. The cabin feels easily more spacious than before. There is vast of rear legroom thanks to the wheelbase extension. Predictably, rear headroom is not as good due to the swoopy roofline, but by mounting the rear seat 30mm lower it is still good enough to fit 6-footers, just. The only real drawback is the boot, which shrinks by 40 liters to 490 liters, smaller than the class norm.

The new large car is built on GM’s E2XX platform which also underpins Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse in the USA. Its chief progress is weight reduction. The monocoque chassis is made 60 kg lighter, thanks to using high-strength steel and aluminum bonnet. As before the suspension is struts up front and multi-link at the rear (4WD models have 5 links instead of 4 links). There won’t be torque-steer-reducing HiPer strut anymore because Opel has dropped the poor selling OPC version this time around. This means, the most powerful engine will be the 260 hp 2.0 Turbo, which is coupled to the new Aisin 8-speed automatic transmission and GKN Twinster 4WD system with torque vectoring (like Ford Focus RS). Another new engine is the mass-selling 1.5-liter direct injection turbo with 165 hp. It can be equipped with either 6-speed manual or 8-speed auto. If these are familiar, it is because you have already seen them on Chevy Malibu. Exclusive to the European car is diesel engines, of course. These include a 1.6-liter with 110hp, 136hp or 160hp, or 2-liter with 180hp. At the lower end of the range, the 1.5T petrol is available in 140hp tune.



The cabin feels easily more spacious than before, thanks to the wheelbase boost.


On the road, the Insignia GS also goes quite like a Buick. It is neither sporty nor fun to steer, but it is smooth and comfortable to cruise along. With very long high gears, the 165hp 1.5T engine cruises at motorway speed with only 2500 rpm on the rev counter, no wonder it is remarkably hushed. When you want to overtake, engage the light clutch and sweet gearbox, you will find the small turbocharged motor offers plenty of useful torque, and then the car gathers speed willingly, if never dramatically. In corners, the new car’s lighter weight is evident, as it threads through corners willingly despite the growth in dimensions. However, there is little feel from the electric power steering. The chassis tuning is not as hardcore as Ford or Mazda either, so it lacks the sharp turn-in or composed body control of its rivals. On the flipside, the car cruises with superb ride comfort as well as high-speed stability.

On the 2.0 Turbo 4x4 fitted with 18-inch wheels (instead of 17-inch of lesser models), the ride comfort suffers some losses, especially on pot holes or rough surfaces, while tire noise is more evident on cruising. Opt for the largest 20-inch wheels and it becomes nearly unbearable, so it is best to save money. This car has electronic adaptive dampers fitted as standard, so you can alter the suspension stiffness between Comfort and Sport mode. However, the former lacks body control to inspire driving thrills, while the latter returns a ride too harsh to be enjoyable on back roads. It proves that Opel has yet to master the art of ride and handling like Ford, Mazda or even Volkswagen. In fact, the 2.0 Turbo 4x4 may disappoint customers who expect a lot from its name. It is simply not fast enough (0-60 mph takes just under 7 seconds). Its Aisin automatic has long gearing to promote fuel economy, and it does not downshift quick enough when you call for action. The result is a lukewarm performance. Even the Twinster 4WD here is not as remarkable as on Ford Focus RS, because all it does is to maintain the neutral handling without permitting the slightest drift on throttle. The result is a secured driving manner like Audi’s Quattro.



The result is less than the sum of its components...


Sadly, the last Opel developed under the GM umbrella fails to break away from the usual mold of Opel. It has the necessary ingredients in place, such as Twinster, adaptive dampers, multilink suspension, new turbo motors and even a good look, but the result is less than the sum of its components. Given more development time and budget and I think it could have a good chance to succeed. Unfortunately, for a subsidiary losing money in the last 16 years, GM ran out of patience.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Insignia Grand Sport 1.6D
2017
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4897 / 1863 / 1455 mm
2829 mm
Inline-4 diesel
1598 cc
DOHC 16 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
136 hp
236 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
225/55R17
1428 kg
131 mph (c)
9.9 (c)
-
Insignia Grand Sport 1.5T
2017
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4897 / 1863 / 1455 mm
2829 mm
Inline-4
1490 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI
165 hp
184 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
225/55R17
1365 kg
138 mph (c)
8.4 (c)
-
Insignia Grand Sport 2.0T AWD
2017
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4897 / 1863 / 1455 mm
2829 mm
Inline-4
1998 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI
260 hp
295 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
245/45R18
1574 kg
155 mph (limited)
6.9 (c)
-




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