The Opel Insignia is one of Ireland’s most practical, comfortable and popular family saloons so what happens when you drop a 2.8 litre V6 turbo powered petrol engine into it and turn it over to Opel’s Performance Centre?
The first thing that alludes to its transformation is its bright ‘Power Red’ paint job and optional 20 inch 5 spoke alloy wheels (19” as standard) that instantly set it apart from the standard Insignia. Additional clues to its pedigree are the extra gills to the front on either side of its large attractive matt chrome front grille that ensure its V6 can breathe with ease. Turning to the rear, the real give away is the single large inset exhaust pipes to each side, a subtle boot spoiler and little electric blue outlined ‘OPC’ badge that sits just below. In profile, you could be forgiven for not noticing too much different about it, with the exception to the stated exterior flairs, the overall subtlety and stealthiness of this car is half of its appeal.
Inside, the sporty theme continues blending seamlessly with the usual Opel Insignia refinements. The most obvious sporty addition is the figure hugging Recaro leather sports seats (€1976 option – Recaro cloth as standard) and these really make you feel like you are sitting in something a bit special. Overall there is a quality feel to the interior that you would expect from the Opel Insignia. At the centre of the dash sits the 8 inch touch screen with IntelliLink infotainment system surrounded by a plethora of buttons, two of which are of particular importance to the driver. These are ‘Sport’ and ‘OPC’. This is where the reworking of the underpinnings separate this latest OPC from its predecessor. The 2.8 litre turbo powered V6 packs 325bhp and 435Nm so Opel’s performance boffins have gone to extended efforts to make the most of this power output by fitting ‘Hiperstrut’ front suspension and a limited slip differential. This technology ensures that the Insignia OPC makes the most of all that torque when these buttons are engaged.
Opel packs some real street cred when it comes to fast cars with the Super mini Corsa OPC and middle sibling Astra OPC consistently holding their own in the hot hatch battle. The Insignia, being a larger family saloon, is naturally quite different in nature and feels more like a muscle car than all round performance car. 0-100kmh is achieved in just 5.6 seconds, but while its adaptive 4x4 system supplies endless amounts of grip, it does not feel quite as engaging as its smaller siblings. In a straight line, it is blisteringly fast while in the bends, there’s not quite as much feel as you might hope for. That’s not to say that it’s incapable of putting a smile on your face, it is. It makes all of the right noises at the right times and heads turn to see what’s coming down the road behind them.
As a daily car, as you would expect from a performance orientated car like the Insignia OPC, the ride is a little stiffer than the standard 2.0 CDTi diesel. It’s not a big fan of Ireland’s less than excellent roads and this is where I might be perfectly happy with the standard 19 inch wheels for as much comfort as possible. As a father of two, its real trump card for me, in addition to being a power house is that it is also an effective family car. It still has the same rear space and large boot as the standard Opel Insignia and while these cars tend to be a bit thirsty, if you’re careful enough, Opel claim you can achieve a combined fuel economy of 10.6l/100km.
Its biggest enemy however may be its price tag. While you can drive away in a brand new Opel insignia for €24,995, the Insignia OPC starts at €53,495. Putting that in context however, its rivals in the shape of the Audi S4 and BMW M3 (4 door) come in at €65,190 and €99,930 respectively, which begins to make the Insignia look like somewhat of a bargain.
If you, like me are the kind of person that enjoys fast cars but does not enjoy much attention while doing so, the Insignia OPC offers the perfect blend of potency and ‘under the radar’ appeal to keep the keenest of petrolheads happy.