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Opel Designer Mark Adams walks us around the Insignia Grand Sport at the Geneva Motor Show
Opel knows all too well the importance globally of its incoming Insignia, especially in Australasia where the vehicle will be badged the Holden Commodore and arrives Downunder next year.
At the Geneva motor show, Opel's vice-president of design, Mark Adams, walked Australian motoring media journalists and Driven around the Insignia grand sport and explained the concept behind the car.
Adams: One of the key things was how do we replace a car that's done extremely well for us [the Insignia] and replace an iconic car in Australia and New Zealand [the Commodore]? It's been a huge challenge.
So creating a vehicle that is elegant and sophisticated, and premium, but sporty at the same time is a fine tightrope to walk.
It's finding what are the visual characteristics that convey those elements, and making sure that we have a fantastic interior package at the same time.
So when you look at this car, it looks coupe-ish and sleek, but inside we've actually got great interior space with better head room than the outgoing Insignia.
One of the key things we did was elongate the wheel base to liberate the interior space.
We moved the front wheel forward a lot more. We didn't have to do that for the package, but we wanted to do that for the proportions. Because, to make a vehicle in this segment look more upscale and premium, it needs to feel more like a rear-wheel drive proportion.
Opel designer, Mark Adams, right, shows a group of journalists around the Insignia grand sport at the Geneva motor show
We've put a much longer nose on it, a lot of sculpture and power in the hood. That nose comes back on itself and it gives a little bit more confidence -- just like when you have your shoulders back and you feel more confident, that's what we wanted to generate within this car.
The aerodynamics are superb as well - not only does it look sleek but, really, [it has] the performance, too. When you see this car on the road it comes to life even more.
Traditionally we've always had a hood crease that is a bit like a bent sheet of metal. It's a bit like the crease in your trousers, prominent and precise.
And the fact that the hood is an aluminum hood - we can still get this crisp precision in aluminum -- is also an engineering feat. It took a lot of work but we think this is going to a great fit in the Australasian market.
When you drive this, the wheel base increase and the balance shift of the car gives it a much more comfortable ride than the outgoing car.
This has all-new architecture so the first thing you have to do is work on the proportions and get all those things right.
We knew in 2012 that this was a possibility [that it would be a global car].
New Zealand will also get the Opel Insignia station wagon, badged as Holden Commodore.
Until you sign off a programme ... you never know what things are going to be committed.
We have a point in a programme, which is when you sign in blood, and the money's committed, then that's real.
I can't tell you when we made the final call on Holden but we had to plan that in from the beginning.
There's no way we could deliver a rear-wheel-drive car [like the Australian-built Commodore].
We needed to create a great-value car, which the Commodore clearly needs to be a great-value proposition. We wanted to really get that high-quality feeling integrated into the car, and certainly having the sporty characteristic of the Commodore as much as we could convey.
[When designing the Insignia] we didn't have the Commodore in the studio, but we knew what the base attributes were like.
The world is a really close place, in terms of the interaction of communication.
We're having weekly calls with our global partners around the world.
Did the V6 engine change the front end or the proportions? How did you package that?
Yes, you have what's called a composite package. So whenever you're doing the architecture of the car, you have to design it with all of the engines in mind and some shift forward, some shift up and some shift sideways.
You have to take that concept package.
I'll give you one more technical thing we did - that I was very passionate about from the beginning - pushing the cowl down, the area where wipers is. That sounds like it's easy to do, but with the latest safety standards, you need to leave air space between hardware and the outside skin.
This is our first car that has an active hood.
Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann talks about the New Opel Insignia grand Sport during the press day at Geneva
That enabled us to actually push the car down, much closer to the hardware, and still make safety parameters because the hood is active.
That makes the whole front look much leaner.
We had both the sedan and the hatch Insignia but while the sedan was on sale, the sportback [or hatchback] became the dominant body star and you've got so much more space; and that's a win-win.
Where the market is going, and where customers are going is that everyone's looking for more flexibility, as long as it offers the same look [as the sedan] and the essence of what they like about a liftback.
You can offer them more functionality, that's a good thing.