Fleet News

Curtain raised on the new Vauxhall Insignia

Vauxhall has finally revealed the successor to one of its heartland fleet cars – the Vectra.

The Insignia newcomer is the latest in a long line of business-oriented Vauxhalls stretching back to the Cavalier and beyond – and the new name reflects the extent of the change afoot.

The UK is the world’s biggest market for today’s Vectra, gobbling up 45% of all production.

It’s consistently in the fleet top-seller ranks, making the Insignia one of the most important launches of 2008.

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  • To see a video of the Insignia click on the following link:

Insignia video
 

Fleet News asks the six key questions every fleet manager and driver wants to know about the Vectra’s successor.

1) What’s the Insignia model range?

Vauxhall will strip down the multitude of choice facing fleets.

Just two Insignia bodystyles will be available at launch: the four-door saloon (pictured) and five-door hatchback both arrive in November, while a new, sleeker estate will be shown later this year, hitting showrooms in early 2009.

There is no Signum version this time, though.

But GM’s European design chief Mark Adams hinted that a coupe based on the GTC concept could be on the cards, too.

Vauxhall’s fleet brand manager Paul Adler talks of ‘streamlined’ model and trim levels to strip out unnecessary complication.

But you can still expect familiar standalone models aimed directly at fleet buyers, such as today’s Exclusiv trim.

“It’s a P11D special with a lower list price – it’s gone down well with our retailers.

And our SRi models have real brand equity – it’s always been our most desirable model for fleets.”

Both badges live on.

2) Can we afford it?

It’s still too early for prices to be confirmed, but we’ll learn more in the coming months as the Insignia makes its world debut at July’s London Motor Show.

Marketing types Fleet News contacted are confident that the new model will carry ‘very similar’ list prices to today’s model.

Expect the cheapest 1.8 petrol model to retail at around £16,000.

3) What will Insignia residual values be like?

Mr Adler points out that RVs on the Vectra have actually risen compared with the class average.

“The Vectra’s residual performance in its segment has been impressive – they’ve gone up since the car was facelifted in 2005.”

Vauxhall has been working hard in the background to make sure that the Insignia will continue to improve.

It took CAP and Glass’s out to Germany to see the car back in October, as well as key fleet customers, rental buyers and key account holders.

“Some customers don’t want alloy wheels to control their costs – we need to take that sort of thing into account in our specifactions,” adds Mr Adler.

4) Is the Insignia bristling with new technology?

Underneath that slick bodywork lies the underpinnings of a whole new generation of global GM products.

The engineering architecture is called Epsilon 2 and is destined for future Vauxhalls, Opels, Saabs, Buicks and Saturns.

It will power a surprising 13 separate model lines by 2018.

What does this mean?

Most Insignias will be front-wheel drive, but the new platform has four-wheel drive capability – badged Adaptive 4x4 – on more powerful sports and premium models.

Five engines will be available at launch: three petrols and a brace of diesel units.

The petrol engines range from a 138bhp four-cylinder to a 256bhp V6.

Vauxhall hasn’t released further detail at this stage.

The diesel choice is a 2.0-litre turbo with direct injection and available in 128bhp or 158bhp state of tune.

There will also be a slew of new technology, including nine-phase headlamps that peer around corners, radar-based cruise control and electronically controlled dampers.

Needless to say, you’ll have to delve deep into the options list, or pick a top-spec car, to qualify.

5) Will it be tax efficient?

Those diesel engines will be the obvious choice for many business users with an eye on benefit-in-kind taxation, fuel costs and decent driving characteristics.

“We will have good availability of high-power diesel engines from early on,” vows Mr Adler.

“We know the market demands it.”

Although the new car is bigger and wider than today’s Vectra, it will peg improved CO2 emissions and fuel economy figures.

An economy-special EcoFLEX model is under development that will offer ultra-low CO2 emissions.

How low is low?

Vauxhall will announce official emissions figures nearer launch this autumn, but sources claim the new engines all meet Euro-V emissions standards and will be competitive in the class.

6) Will business drivers want an Insignia?

Emphatically yes, at first glance.

Fleet News was granted a sneak preview of the Insignia at GM’s European headquarters near Frankfurt and the car looks even better in the metal than in these first official publicity photographs, with overtones of the Jaguar XF.

Paul Adler hopes to launch an “I-want-one vehicle” and he’s not far from the truth.

It’s fitting that the Vectra name has been dropped – so has the entire styling vocabulary of today’s dowdy and sober upper-medium sector car.

Where the current Vectra is sharp-suited and conservative, the Insignia looks instantly more modern, more daring, more coupé-like. 

It’s no mistake; the designers have deliberately styled in a ‘fastback’ rear end, to the detriment of rear headroom.

That delta-wing blade on the car’s flanks is the most noticeable design flourish on the car, and it’s repeated on the grab handle design inside.

But this car doesn’t just look slick – it has the best in class aerodynamics, cleaving the air with a drag coefficient of just 0.269.

And that will help reduce fuel consumption and noise at a motorway cruise.

  • Tim Pollard is associate editor of Car magazine.

 

 

 

 

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