Vauxhall Insignia (2008): first pictures

Published: 17 April 2008

You’ve seen the leaked images and the scoops, but now the wait is finally over. These are the first officially sanctioned photographs of the new Vauxhall Insignia – marking the end of two decade of the Vectra, which replaced the Cavalier back in 1988.

It’s immediately apparent that the Insignia is way more stylish than today’s dowdy Vectra. Where that car is achingly sober and sensible, the Insignia actually lets its hair down and has a bit of fun. Check out that delta-wing detail on the flank (a design touch due on most future Vauxhalls and Opels). The Insignia is the latest in a long line of debutants to take the wedge to a new height (think Jag XF, Ford Mondeo et al), but it looks impressively slick with it.

In fact, if you want the Insignia design distilled to an uncomplicated metaphor, try this: it looks like a shrunken Jag XF, with a better resolved front end. Not bad considering it will cost from just £16k when sales start in November 2008.

Woah there. How can you be so sure the Insignia’s a looker?

We’re not just heaping praise based on these first pictures. We’ve spent a morning poring over the car with its designers – and it really does look promising in the metal. Sharp enough, in fact, to make it the best looking car in its class by some margin. I have no particular fascination with any current Vauxhall/Opel product, but I was impressed by this newcomer.

Okay, so design standards haven’t exactly been high in the D-sector of late, but recent arrivals such as the Citroen C5 (Gallic flair!), Ford Mondeo (grown-up!) and Honda Accord (Audi wannabe!) suggest that there’s life outside the straight-laced Passat approach. But the Insignia beats them all, to these eyes at least.

Click ‘Next’ to read the full lowdown on the Insignia

For a full preview of the new Vauxhall Insignia, buy the new June 2008 issue of CAR Magazine, out 30 April 2008Vauxhall Insignia: the lowdown

The car you see pictured here is the four-door saloon, which will be joined at launch in November by a trad five-door hatch. A less upright, more swoopy estate will join the range in 2009 while a coupe inspired by the GTC concept that sired the Insignia (excuse the mouthful) is very much on the cards, we hear.

Vauxhall marketing boffins admit they’ve rather over-complicated their brochures of late, so you can expect a streamlined line-up. Brand staples like Exclusive and SRI will remain, however. Oh, and there won’t be a Signum this time round either. It’s being killed off on account of disappointingly low sales.

Insignia – the engine room

We don’t have the full breakdown at this stage, but Vauxhall has confirmed there will be five engines at launch – three petrols and a brace of diesels.

The petrol engines range from a 138bhp four-cylinder to a 256bhp V6 – but a VXR nearing 300bhp is rumoured for those backward of baseball cap and fond of burnt rubber. The diesel choice is a 2.0-litre turbo with direct injection and available in 128bhp or 158bhp state of tune. All are Euro5 compliant, and there will be a low-CO2 Ecoflex model too.

Drive is through the front wheels on the majority of Insignia models, but Vauxhall will eventually offer its Adaptive 4x4 on higher-powered and premium models. It uses the trick diff already seen in the Saab Turbo X we tested recently. Should make for some fun corner carving, in our experience.

And the next car stopping at platform 2 is….

The Insignia is the first GM product to be based on the group’s new Epsilon 2 architecture. It’s a development of today’s Vectra and is destined to underpin a surprising 13 separate model lines of future Vauxhalls, Opels, Saabs, Buicks and Saturns by 2018. It had better be good, then…

Click ‘Next’ to see what the Insignia is like insideIt’s a fleet special – it must have gadgets galore?

Every new launch these days heralds an ever more baffling slew of gadgets and gizmos. So you’ll be able to specify – at extra cost, naturally – nine-phase headlamps that peer around corners, radar-based cruise control so you can chatter into your mobile, and electronically controlled dampers to impress your mates on all those track days you’ll never attend.

And what’s the Insignia like inside?

Strangely, there aren’t yet any official photos inside – just this leaked image from the internet. But it is the real deal, identical to the car we sat in.

It’s way better than today’s Vectra inside. Where that car presents you with shiny plastics and more buttons than you can shake a sewing kit at, the Insignia is light years ahead. There’s a real wraparound effect, as the dash envelops both front-seat occupants, and the exterior delta-wing design flourish is repeated on the door grabs.

Space: the final frontier

Okay, so perhaps the interior doesn’t quite match the wow factor of the exterior (to these eyes), but it’s a big improvement on today’s effort. The biggest problem is the lack of rear headroom caused by that swooping coupe-like roofline. Actual headroom isn’t too bad, but the impression is of quite a cramped package, as the D-pillar swoops downwards blocking off rear passenger’s vision sideways.

Click ‘Next’ for some weird Insignia curiosSome weird Insignia stats

• The new shape doesn’t just look slick, it is slick. The drag coefficient is just 0.269 (doubtless on the skinny tyred economy special)
• 45 percent of all Vectras are sold in the UK
• 38 percent go to Germany
• The rest of Europe takes the remaining 17 percent
• Insignia world debut: 22 July 2008
• Developed in Germany and UK (Millbrook Proving Ground, Bedfordshire)
• Insignia chief platform designer Malcolm Ward went to school with Volvo’s head stylist Steve Mattin
• The Insignia’s wheelbase has been stretched by 35mm
• This winning design beat 12 scale models, and three full-size models to win the commission
• Top models will wear wheels of up to 20in
• The centre console couldn’t be angled beyond 30deg as otherwise CDs wouldn’t eject

Love it? Loathe it? Sound off on the new Insignia by clicking ‘Add your comment’Some weird Insignia stats

• The new shape doesn’t just look slick, it is slick. The drag coefficient is just 0.269 (doubtless on the skinny tyred economy special)
• 45 percent of all Vectras are sold in the UK
• 38 percent go to Germany
• The rest of Europe takes the remaining 17 percent
• Insignia world debut: 22 July 2008
• Developed in Germany and UK (Millbrook Proving Ground, Bedfordshire)
• Insignia chief platform designer Malcolm Ward went to school with Volvo’s head stylist Steve Mattin
• The Insignia’s wheelbase has been stretched by 35mm
• This winning design beat 12 scale models, and three full-size models to win the commission
• Top models will wear wheels of up to 20in
• The centre console couldn’t be angled beyond 30deg as otherwise CDs wouldn’t eject

Love it? Loathe it? Sound off on the new Insignia by clicking ‘Add your comment’

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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