Vauxhall at the London motor show 2008

Published: 22 July 2008

London motor show video

Vauxhall today showed its sleek new Insignia for the first time in public – and announced that the Vectra replacement would cost from £15,935. But it also reinforced its reputation for environmental research with the hugely significant Flextreme concept car, which will arrive wearing a Vauxhall badge early in the next decade, according to senior officials on the stand.

Elsewhere on the Vauxhall stand

Based at the far end of the main hall – and facing arch rival Ford – the GM area was dominated by the Vauxhall stand. There’s also the latest VXR8 LS3 for lovers of big 6.2-litre V8s and big outputs. Check out also the Astra VXR Nurburgring, a loony edition of the Astra hot hatch we recently drove and loved.

CAR’s Vauxhall highlight

The Insignia has gone down well and serves up a dose more style than the unloved Vectra it replaces. It’s a smooth shape with a drag figure of just 0.27 and points to a generation of new Vauxhall/Opel models; we hear the 2009 Astra will repeat the styling ‘blade’ but ahead of the front wheelarch next time. The Insignia went down well, but we some show-goers reckoned it wasn’t the silver bullet GM needs.

A VXR version of the Insignia has now been confirmed, with four-wheel drive and hefty power output nudging 300bhp. But before we see that, expect the estate version at the Paris motor show in October 2008.

Of more interest to us is the Flextreme concept on the London motor show stand. It’s an indication of the plug-in hybrids under development at Opel and Vauxhall and Vauxhall chairman and managing director Bill Parfitt is confident the production bound technology will give the brand a head start in the eco battle.

The Flextreme, which will make its debut on an Astra-sized car some time after 2010, can travel around 40 miles with zero emissions, thanks to a 1.3-litre turbodiesel driving the generator to charge a battery. It never drives on diesel power – the combustion engine only ever charges the battery, allowing 50mpg potential.

What were they thinking?

The new Corsa VXR Arctic Edition, a souped-up version of the baby hot hatch with Glacier White paintwork and contrasting black details, shows that the special edition is indeed alive and well. Still, Vauxhall flogs 5000 VXR models a year and is confident its performance brand is alive and well in this CO2-obsessed age.  

In a nutshell

Bravo Vauxhall for bringing a crucial world debut to London – we just hope the new Insignia drives as well as it looks…

Click here to go to CAR’s London motor show A-Z homepage

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And now time to unveil the new Insignia…

First came ten minutes of re-iterating Rik Wagner’s claims of last week that the GM fiscals were back on track. Then more time on European sales and market share including the bizarre stat of Russian sales up 390 percent between 2004 and 2007, from what? Well investors and bankers comforted onto the car

So what’s it like?

First there is no excuse for not sitting in one. There are an incredible 17 on display. The inside is as pleasing as the exterior though the seats appear a little Rover 75. That’s all I can share because I can’t get past the slightly mad staring face that is the steering wheel. The back-lit dials create illuminated eyes and the centre part of the wheels stretches into a nose and mouth that I can’t decide if it is friendly or fierce. Look at the press photographs if you don’t believe me.

No really what’s it like?

It’s well built and well proportioned. Slightly smaller feel than the Mondeo that will appeal to many. Speaking with Glasses Guide Head of market Intelligence revealed a forecasted residual value position 3% higher than the equivalent Ford. All good news then. Well no as this gives GM a bigger problem than Vectra ever did. This is a proper car and GM must sort out its brand strategy or else the confusion between Cadillac, Chevrolet, Saab and Vauxhall will drag this car down.

Click here to go to CAR’s London motor show A-Z homepage