The Opel Insignia OPC Line will be appreciated for its good sense of balance in comfort, style and handling. This German has an inspiring drive, though you might not want to call it exhilarating. The 2.8 L OPC Insignia might claim that one for a chunky 30 grand more.
UPSIDE: Delightful steering, Smooth and sure brakes, Refined cabin comfort, Optimal space and power
FLIPSIDE: Performance falls short of OPC line nametag, Driver assistance options are few, Rivals are quicker
The Price: 2.0 L Turbo OPC Line AED 139,000. Prices start at AED 119,000.
For a few years now, Volkswagen has been having it easy in this market when it comes to those skirting the borders of German driving pleasure. But now, Opel is back to challenge the thinking, when thinking itself has been undergoing a sort of transformation, and claim for itself a chunk of what has belonged to the Germans ever since Karl Benz invented the automobile – only 14 years prior to Opel’s first ‘opus automotif’.
Cabin and Controls
Opel Insignia charms with the elegant refinement that fills its cabin space, upholding the German standards you’ve come to expect. The way the wooden strips circumnavigate the doorsills and the windscreen, the front deck gives the impression that you are at the helm of a yacht, especially with their tapering feel towards the front.
Not surprising for a company that started off making sewing machines, Opel has stitched together an uncompromising cabin. The delectably classy dark wood trims, the beige and deep brown leather across the dashboard and the doorsills, even hard plastics – everything is tastefully chosen and fetches brownie points over its rivals.
Strangely, the cabin frills are oriented towards ride comfort rather than driver assistance in this ‘OPC line’ version. The comfortably bolstered front seats offer air-conditioned massage option with lumbar and knee support for the driver but deny the backing of blind spot monitors, rear view camera and navigation. As I settled down, I felt a gap towards the tail of the seatback. But this is something you soon get used to like a new pillow – once you work out your comfortable driving position.
The Insignia looks like a long and big car, so if the rear seats are sensibly rather than opulently spaced, where did all the space go? Well, it has been stowed away in the boot, which gives it one of the most spacious rear storage among midsized sedans.
The Bluetooth may be controlled through voice commands. Given that there isn’t much else to control, those neatly stacked buttons on the console are to do with the AC or the music. The audio system isn’t the most advanced, but does a decent job nevertheless!
With its Opel Performance Centre connection, the car looks muscular. For the exteriors, the German acquires a few traits from its American guardian, General Motors. It looks hefty and beefed up with the suggestion of a haunch. The surfboard-like character lines remind you of the Dodge Charger; while the front grille and the stance somehow brings to mind the Chevrolet Caprice that was recently withdrawn from our market.
The back of the Insignia isn’t much more than a hatch to look at – which is why it beats me why Opel has introduced a ‘notchback’ and a ‘hatchback’ separately in the first place! Those subtle rear lamp petals reminiscent of a Bentley are a nice sign-off.
Six distinct gearshifts in short throws get this Opel quickly to a pleasant and settled drive. The Insignia carves the curves as if along grooves on the ground. But in sharp corners, the body lean slightly slows down the exit, while the availability of the torque, strictly to the mid range, kind of restricts longer maneuvers at higher speeds.
It’s hard to believe it is a 2.0 L engine as you pull out of signals. With a maximum torque of 350 Nm, it gives the feeling of being more powerful than it actually is. But then, this feeling doesn’t reflect in the 0-100 timing, which is close to 9 sec. So, I suggest you stop looking at it as an OPC line car and as a mid size family sedan instead, and you’ll be delighted by what the Insignia offers you!
The Opel Insignia OPC Line turns around one of the best-sized steering wheels with a remarkable handling feel even for a German – neither too tight nor too easy. If there is anything more impressive than the steering skills of the car, it is the braking response and the very grace with which it comes to a halt.
The Opel Insignia is a car that likes the classic driving principles. Despite its sporty leaning, it comes with neither sports buttons nor paddle shifts. Again, it calls for the good old shoulder check straight out of your learning days, because there are no take-it-easy blind spot blips. And while the dog-eared design of the side view mirror somewhat adds to the design, it actually shaves away a bit of the view, especially on the right side. No worries! The blind spot marker on the driver side mirror and the clever design of the greenhouse and the windscreen compliment the visibility in the Opel Insignia. Night vision is well supported by photo-chromatic mirrors and self-adjusting cornering lamps with the widest throw you’ve ever seen.
The Opel Insignia has a large cabin for a mid size sedan and a refinement level that rivals the drive. Good for the family. My passengers loved its comfortably poised seats with knee support and its ride quality – something pleasant between taut and soft. With a silent cabin and gently acting brakes, it’s a place for babies to sleep tight in their ISOFIX seats. Storage in the Insignia cabin is moderate, but a surprising lot of stuff can go under its short tail. Oh, I almost forgot the moon roof – but that’s got to do with its size perhaps!
The Essential Opel Insignia OPC Line
Competing against overzealous Koreans and the settled Japanese who are pushed to frill-mongering by the former, the expected extras are missing in the Insignia. Its Bavarian counterparts too, offer varying levels of techno sophistication. But here is a German making a comeback to claim its rightful position, with a distinctive drive, but no rear view camera or navigation, even at AED 139,000, which can’t be termed cheap really. If Opel pays attention to these in this market, this could mark a fourth reich in refined motoring!
Emulating the spirit of the OPC is all very well but what about the real performance? I asked myself, as I walked back after handing over my test car, when something caught my attention in the showroom – Recaro seats, and in pure black, inviting me from within a frame that looked sporty and promising enough to elegantly wear the tag of German performance. The Opel Insignia OPC itself has arrived after all. But, that is another story!