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The Warsaw Voice » Society » July 2, 2010
Opel Insignia EcoFlex
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The Art of Technology
July 2, 2010   
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The Opel Insignia encapsulates two of the most sought-after attributes a car can have—a sexy body and state-of-the-art engineering. Add to that an economical and environmentally friendly engine for the ecoFlex version.

The Insignia has replaced Opel’s Vectra model. The vehicle, which was officially unveiled in London in July 2008, is available as a four-door sedan, five-door liftback, and station wagon. There are nine gasoline and diesel engines to choose from.

The Opel Insignia is easy on the eye. The car’s slender shape is full of grace and elegance, and its sloping roof makes the vehicle a little coupé-like. The body has a harmony and vigor that belies its generous external dimensions (4.83 cm long). The air drag coefficient barely reaches 0.28. The ecoFlex version we test-drove got this down to 0.26 with some technical and stylistic tweaking, like changing the shape of the bumper, grille and side mirrors, lowering the body, covering the chassis, and using lower rolling-resistance tires.

The spacious interior comfortably seats five adult passengers, although the sloping roof can make life difficult for rear seat and/or tall passengers. The sedan has a 500-liter trunk, which can be increased to 1,010 liters if need be by folding down the back seats. The dashboard is worth more than a passing glance. The design is modern and all the dials, indicators and switches are easy to read and ergonomically laid out.

The test-drive unit was fitted with a modern 2.01/160 hp Common Rail turbodiesel engine. This sort of grunt guarantees impressive power and performance for a 1.5-ton vehicle—100 kph in 9.5 seconds and a top speed of 221 kph. Opel also made a few modifications to the transmission and engine software in the ecoFlex version in order to reduce fuel consumption, and thereby hazardous emissions, as much as possible. The engine’s exhaust fumes are 136g/km, which meets the most stringent European emission standards.

The change to the engine software has increased the maximum torque from 350 Nm to 380 Nm at 1,750 rpm. The transmission ratio of the six-speed manual gearbox was set to maximize acceleration in the two lowest gears while sixth gear has been extended to serve as an overdrive for economical road driving. In practical terms, this means that if the car is traveling at 100 kph, the engine is doing 1,500 rpm and burning around 3l/100 km. The lack of engine flexibility may be a drawback but this is more than compensated for by economy. The average fuel consumption for city driving is 5.2l/100 km, according to the manufacturer. Given that the fuel tank has a 70l capacity, this translates to being able to travel over 1,300 km on a single tank. This impressive result has been achieved by lowering the air drag coefficient, in addition to any engine and gearbox modifications.

The Opel Insignia ecoFlex is an elegant, technically refined, and environmentally friendly vehicle. It can also be deemed safe, having achieved the top rating of five stars in the Euro New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP), and is well equipped. Little wonder that it is attracting so many buyers.
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