European-sourced Holden’s on their way

November 21st, 2014 by Richard Edwards

While the debate rages as to what will replace the Commodore as Holden’s large car come 2018 – there are new lion-badged options coming far sooner that deserve a look – and may provide clues in themselves.

The company announced earlier this year the return of European sourced models to its line up – the Cascada cabriolet, Astra GTC hatch/coupe and the large sedan Insignia VXR. Continue reading “European-sourced Holden’s on their way” »

Opel Insignia – driving

December 17th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Driving footage

Dropping a Vauxhall Insignia from a great height

December 17th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham
The Vauxhall Insignia made its first public appearance when the vehicle, which emerged from the bottom of a container, aka as the “orb” suspended above Potters Fields Park, quickly lowered 45 meters in six seconds (7.6 metres per second) in front of a crowd of over 300 spectators.

The Vauxhall Insignia made its first public appearance when the vehicle, which emerged from the bottom of a container, aka as the “orb” suspended above Potters Fields Park, quickly lowered 45 meters in six seconds (7.6 metres per second) in front of a crowd of over 300 spectators.

First pics of new Saab 9-5 leaked online

July 29th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Saab 9-5 2010 fq

The Saab 9-5 has been long overdue for an overhaul, with the current model first rolling around way back in 1997. A fully redesigned model was apparently going to be revealed last year but its release was postponed because of limited resources at Saab and the introduction of the facelifted 9-3, not to mention the company’s uncertain future.

This week it was confirmed that the new model will show up at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show and yesterday images of the new sedan were leaked online. The images show a continuation of Saab’s past design traits married to a more modern, sleek profile.

Underneath the new sheet metal will be a heavily revised version of GM’s FWD Epsilon II platform, which is also used by Opel on its new Insignia range. To mark Saab as a more premium product the 9-5 will receive a stiffer suspension set-up, a new steering rack and upgraded electronics.

Engine options will include a range of four-cylinder petrol and turbodiesel mills and possibly a biofuel model. There will also likely by an AWD top range model with a turbocharged petrol V6 displacing 3.6L and developing upwards of 350hp (261kW). Other engines options should include a 210hp (157kW) 2.0L unit and mid-level 2.8L V6. A petrol-electric hybrid model is also expected.

Production of the new 9-5 is predicted to start shortly.

2010 Opel Astra revealed before Frankfurt debut

May 14th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Opel Astra fq

Financially troubled carmaker Opel has just released details of its upcoming next-generation 2010 Astra before its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September.

The 2010 Astra’s design is inspired by the larger Opel Insignia, it shows off all-new sheet metal that takes cues from its big brother and packages it into a smaller, more fluid shape. The fascia, headlamps and back-end reflect Opel’s new design direction, along with the sculpted sides and raked-back windscreen.

The new Astra has a wheelbase that stretches 2.8 inches longer than the outgoing model. The “wing and blade” design language employed on the exterior carries through to the interior, and joins ergonomic seats and the new Opel Eye front camera system, which can apparently recognise road signs and warns drivers if they veer out of their lane.

There will be a total of eight different engines available, including four CDTI common-rail diesels with displacements ranging from 1.3- to 2.0-litres and outputs of between 95 and 160 hp. Another four gas-powered units, with displacements between 1.4- and 1.6-litres, dish out between 100 and 180 hp along with a new turbocharged 1.4-litre that replaces the outgoing naturally aspirated 1.8-litre and puts out 140 hp and 14% more torque, while lowering fuel consumption.

The wraps officially come off the five-door Astra later this year, while a four-door sedan, three-door hatch and a two-mode hybrid variant are expected to debut in 2010. Global sales should begin towards the end of 2009, and hopefully we will see the new 2010 Astra down here in NZ next year with a Holden badge whacked on the front.

Vauxhall Insignia wins European Car of the Year Award

November 18th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Vauxhall Insignia

The Insignia, the all-new family car from Vauxhall/Opel, has been voted 2009 Car of the Year — by the narrowest possible margin. The Insignia polled an impressive 321 votes to beat this year’s other favoured contender, the Ford Fiesta, by a solitary point. The Volkwsagen Golf, on 223 points, was third.

“This is the closest COTY competition for years,” comments Ray Hutton, president of the 59-strong jury of senior motoring journalists drawn from 23 European countries. “Car of the Year has often been decided narrowly, but it is eight years since another Ford, the Mondeo, was beaten by a single point by Alfa Romeo’s 147.” To underscore the closeness of the 46-year-old competition, the Vauxhall/Opel Insignia received most votes from 20 of the international jurors, while the Fiesta was placed first by 19 of them.

“We are delighted to be able to deliver good news at such a tough time,” says Steve Cropley, editor-in-chief of Autocar, COTY’s British-based sponsoring magazine, “The market’s the toughest we’ve seen for 20 years, but nothing alters the fact that the Insignia is a great car. However, this result is undoubtedly something of an upset. The Ford Fiesta seemed to many a winning contender. But in the end, the Insignia deserved to triumph and it did.”

Points allotted to the other COTY finalists were VW Golf 223, Citroen C5 198, Alfa Romeo MiTo 148, Skoda Superb 144 and Renault Megane 121. The competition’s first stage was in October, when jurors chose seven finalists from a field of 37 contenders. To be eligible for COTY, a car must be launched within the past 12 months and must be available in at least five European countries.

The COTY jury is made up of 59 senior motoring journalists from 23 countries. Their objective is to choose the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the past 12 months. Jurors vote twice:  first to select a short-list of seven from the new cars launched in Europe, then again to choose the winner.

COTY PREVIOUS WINNERS

2008                        FIAT 500
2007                        FORD S-MAX
2006                        RENAULT CLIO
2005                        TOYOTA PRIUS
2004                        FIAT PANDA
2003                        RENAULT MEGANE
2002                        PEUGEOT 307
2001                        ALFA ROMEO 147
2000                        TOYOTA YARIS
1999                        FORD FOCUS
1998                        ALFA ROMEO 156
1997                        RENAULT MEGANE SCENIC
1996                        FIAT BRAVO / BRAVA
1995                        FIAT PUNTO

Vauxhall to debut Insignia Estate at Paris Motorshow

August 15th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

vauxhall-insignia-wagon-fq

These are the first official shots of Vauxhall’s new Insignia estate, which will debut at the Paris Salon in October.

Known as the Sports Tourer, it will be available to UK buyers in the second quarter of 2009 and will feature two new engines — a more powerful turbodiesel and a smaller capacity turbocharged petrol unit — in addition to the five powerplants available from launch in the saloon and hatchback models. An ecoFLEX Sports Tourer with competitively low emissions and fuel consumption will also be available in the near future.

New Zealand will not be receiving the Insignia any time soon as plans to put a Holden badge on the car have yet to be finalised.

Designers gave the rear of the Sports Tourer a unique, yet cohesive appearance by pulling the wraparound tailgate deep in to its flanks and accentuating it with large, fully integrated tail lights.

Inside, as with the Insignia saloon and hatch, the Sports Tourer has ample room for five adults and one of the best loadspace volumes in its class. Despite this, Vauxhall has retained the hatch and saloon’s wheelbase (2,737mm) and added around 80mm to its length.

The new petrol and diesel engines available in the Sports Tourer will complement the Insignia’s existing line up of three petrol and two diesel units, including the 130 and 160PS 2.0 CDTi which achieve 4.8L/100km on the extra urban cycle, the 220PS 2.0i Turbo, and the 260PS 2.8i V6 range-topper, capable of powering the Insignia from 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds.

Like the Insignia hatch and saloon, the Sports Tourer will also be available with front- and all-wheel drive, as well as Vauxhall’s FlexRide system with its Adaptive Stability Technology.

The new estate model will also benefit from the high levels of technology showcased at Insignia’s launch, such as Vauxhall’s latest generation Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL), with its nine light beam settings, and the Front Camera System, which can read and memorise road signs and alert drivers if they unintentionally veer off the road.

Vauxhall introduces new technology for mid-price cars

June 23rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

vauxhall-insignia-fq

Vauxhall has introduced a dual-function camera that not only reads speed limit and no-overtaking signs and displays them on the instrument panel, but also alerts drivers when they unintentionally veer out of their lane. Known as Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Departure Warning, the two systems improve driving safety, reduce stress and can even prevent costly speeding tickets.

“These new features follow Vauxhall’s philosophy of enhancing driving excitement by assisting drivers without reducing their level of control,” explains Hans Demant, Managing Director of GME Engineering. “That means the system gives drivers information, but it doesn’t intervene.”

Known as the Front Camera System, the wide-angled, high-resolution camera and processors were jointly developed by Vauxhall/Opel engineers and specialists from supplier Hella. The camera, located between the windscreen and the rear-view mirror, detects road signs and lane markings. It’s not much bigger than a mobile phone, yet can take 30 pictures per second. Two signal processors filter and read the photos.

Depending on light conditions, the Traffic Sign Recognition function begins to repeatedly read signs at 100 metres. It starts by focusing on circular patterns then identifies the numbers inside them via contour comparison. When a match is found in the car’s software, the sign is displayed in the instrument panel; it will even prioritise a no-overtaking sign over a speed limit warning sign.

When the Lane Departure Warning function is turned on, it uses a second signal processor and software to read traffic lanes and record a driver’s normal lane-changing behaviour, taking into account steering input and indicator usage. If any deviation is detected, an audible and visual warning is sent from the instrument panel, preventing hazardous situations, such as a driver falling asleep at the wheel.

The Front Camera System, featuring Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Departure Warning will be available as an option on the new Insignia, with other Vauxhall models benefiting from the system in future.

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