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Opel Insignia Offers Strong Hint of Next Buick Regal

Plans could be complicated by sale of Opel to PSA.

by on Mar.08, 2017

Opel designer Mark Adams rehearses his line before the Geneva debut of the Opel Insignia.

Opel could definitely use a lift. The once-grand European automaker has been struggling for years, and it didn’t help when General Motors announced last month that it was likely to sell the German-based brand to France’s PSA.

That deal was announced just a day before the opening of the annual Geneva Motor Show, but as far as Opel was concerned, the big news was the launch of two critical new products, the Crossland X crossover, and the newly redesigned Insignia.

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The latter sedan is, in itself, particularly important because it not only lands a new family sedan in product-hungry Opel showrooms, but it also offers a strong hint of what’s to come when GM’s Buick brand unveils its own Regal sedan at the New York International Auto Show next month.

Despite the sale of Opel – which will be completed later this year – Buick could become increasingly dependent upon the German sibling, at least for a few more years. But while that may complicate matters from a business perspective, those viewing the new Insignia have reason to be pleased.

(For more details on the Opel sale, Click Here.)

The Opel sedan adds 92 mm to its wheelbase, or about 3.6 inches. That said, the overall length will be roughly the same, thanks to shortened overhangs. But the new geometry translates into a roomier passenger compartment and improved cargo capacity. And with the new Insignia shedding nearly 400 pounds of mass, fuel economy should rise while handling is expected to improve.

Another look at the Insignia.

The new Opel Insignia adopts a lower roof line, and the car also appears to sits lower, with what comes across as a wider, more sporty stance. There are new, more catseye-like headlamps, and a more upright grille. The sheet metal is distinguished by what Opel designers have dubbed a “sweepspear,” a deep crease that rises from near the base of the front door, and the way through the rear wheel arch.

(Wrapping up the Opel sale could take years, create challenges for Buick. Click Here for more.)

Opel will eventually add a wagon version of the new Insignia to its line-up, a body style many expect also will reach the U.S. market. If so, it would mark the first Buick wagon since the brand phased out its Century and Roadmaster versions two decades ago.

For Europe, the Opel Insignia will get an array of gasoline and diesel engines, all the way up to a 256-horsepower 2.0-liter gas turbo and 306-hp V-6. Gearboxes include an eight-speed automatic It will also be offered with a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system designed to not only improve traction but also to help steer through turns.

We could see the turbo and V-6 powertrains land in the Buick Regal, as well. Currently, the model offers both a 2.0-liter turbo and a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated inline-four.

The American model is expected to share some of the strong design cues of the Insignia, albeit with Buick’s badge, grille and a few other design details.

The new Opel sedan will add a variety of high-tech features, including forward collision warning, lane keeping assistant, a 360-degree surround view camera and a more advanced OnStar system. Don’t be surprised to see most of those included with the next Buick Regal, as well.

In Europe, the price tag is expected to start as low as $25,500. In the U.S., the current Buick Regal carries a base MSRP of $27,065.

Plans call for Regal to be produced in Europe, by Opel, and then shipped to the States. That strategy now appears to be under review, and some sources report GM could switch that to one of its plants in China – the same strategy used for the Buick Envision. But that likely wouldn’t happen for several years.

How close will the Buick Regal be to the new Opel Insignia? We’ll find out at the New York show next month.

(Live from Geneva! For complete coverage of the 2017 auto show, Click Here.)

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