Opel Insignia: 2010 Opel Insignia review

Details are emerging on the Opel Insignia, which is essentially the next-generation 2010 Saturn Aura for North America. The Insignia replaces the Vectra in the Opel lineup and will be the first model from GMs new Global Midsize Vehicle Architecture (formerly known as Epsilon), giving us a clear look at GMs future mid-size car lineup.

In an unusual move, Opel and Vauxhall (the badge-engineered British sister brand) are touting the Insignia with official pictures and information in advance of the official unveiling scheduled to take place at the London auto show on July 22.

Opel needs to create some buzz, what with the stylish new Ford Mondeo grabbing customers from the current Vectra which has seen its sales plummet. In North America, GM has been tight-lipped about the pending Insignia, as the current Aura is still relatively fresh, sales are decent, and the Saturn has a more modern look than the more-dated Vectra upon which it was based.

The Insignia is a global vehicle, styled and engineered in Rüsselsheim, Germany, with the Aura and the U.S. market in mindand as such is more portly than its predecessor. Besides the sedan pictured in our gallery, there will be an Insignia hatchbackas that is a popular body style in Europe and it is growing on North Americansbut the hatch may not make it stateside. In early 2009, an Insignia station wagon will be added, but we do not expect an Aura wagon. GM is trying to jump-start the dormant U.S. wagon market with its cool, upcoming Cadillac CTS wagon. The Signum, Opels Vectra-based and Malibu Maxxlike attempt at a roomier family and executive car, wont get a successor.

We are pleased to see virtually no trace of the old Vectra in the sporty and rakish styling of the new Insignia, with a blade line that runs from the front doors to the rear and wraps around the rear bumper. The V-shaped hood recalls the upscale Opel Senator and Monza models from the late 1970s.

European pedestrian protection regulation requires more space between the sheetmetal and engine, and thus the Insignia/Aura is nine inches longer than the Vectra it replaces, at 190 inches, but the wheelbase grew less than two inches. Judging from mildly disguised prototypes spotted negotiating Swiss mountain passes this spring, the design team around Mark Adams, GM Europe's design chief, has successfully concealed those protruding overhangs.

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