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Opel Insignia: The Once and Future-ish Saturn

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Opel Insignia

Opel Insignia

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Last week when GM vice chairman Bob Lutz spoke with TheCarConnection.com about the Saturn Aura, he explained that the plan had been to "short-cycle" the current Aura and bring this new Opel Insignia to the States as a Saturn. Now with Saturn being re-evaluated--could it be all small cars once again?--and with big changes in the dollar/Euro value in just a year, the plan to replace the Aura is kaput, and the current car will soldier on through a normal life cycle.

So while it's not coming to the U.S. now, there's no definitive say on whether the new Opel Insignia will ever show up on American soil. It seems too bad; the car's visual themes are what GM calls "sculptured artistry"--from its BMW-like taillamps, to a front end that smacks of the Volkswagen Jetta and its "coupe-like" profile, the two-word curse that's beginning to afflict even SUVs. The body sports a low, low coefficient of drag of 0.26, and inside, there's a "premium" interior treatment that's much nicer than the current generation of Opel sedans.

The Aura's also missing out on all-wheel drive, which is engineering in the new Insignia, as well as a "FlexRide" chassis that adjusts suspension settings automatically or by driver choice. The Insignia also gets adaptive lighting and a lane-departure warning system on its options list.

As for mechanicals, the Insignia has seven available powertrains: three gas four-cylinders of 2.0 liters or less; a 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6; and three diesels of 2.0 liters. Six-speed automatic and manual transmissions are offered.

The new Insignia goes on sale in December 2008 across the Continent. Hold your breath if you'd like it to appear at a Saturn showroom; our bets are on Saturn shrinking to a three-vehicle brand (Astra, Vue, and Sky) before too long.
 
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