Opel Insignia and Buick Invicta Revealed in Quick Succession

It’s almost as if they planned it that way….

By David Surace


GM’s global juggernaut threw a one-two punch last week, unveiling the production Opel Insignia sedan on one side of the world, and then a fetching Buick Invicta concept on the other. Both cars showcase GM’s new Epsilon II chassis, which will carry a litany of different bodies and nameplates, more cars than you have fingers to count.

The production Insignia, which bowed first, should soon spawn identical siblings at UK’s Vauxhall and Australia’s Holden, and possibly Daewoo as well. It is also a direct harbinger of good things to come from Saturn, as the next-generation Aura. You’ll be able to see the Insignia in the metal on July 22nd at the London Motor Show.

Aside from the normal press-release stuff, a couple of things seem to stick out:

Opel is using this opportunity to debut its “Adaptive 4X4” all-wheel-drive system”, which promises active torque distribution among other goodies. If you want a sneak peek of this system, you might want to have a look at SAAB’s XWD system on the Turbo X. Anyway, given the prevalence of AWD in the northern US, this option is most likely imminent Stateside.

Also of note is Opel’s new Adaptive Forward Lighting system, or AFL. There are nine different programs for the lighting equipment up front to provide active lighting for different driving situations, and an innovative use of LED’s and light-tubes for daytime (and nighttime) running lights. AFL is similar to the “eyebrow” systems already in use with Cadillac and SAAB, but far more complex and dramatic. The innovative lighting continues inside the car as well, with ambient light-tubes running the length of the dash, as well as LED floodlights to set the mood.

Another rib from Insignia’s side will become a Buick, and the proof is in the Invicta concept, word of which came from Beijing late last week. That should not sound strange to you; Buick is a white-hot brand in China, and there’s a strong cultural undercurrent of respect for the tri-shield.

And it shows—the car is an absolute knockout, even after you see past the concept-ish bits (like most modern concepts, if you squint you can see the production version). The Invicta’s luscious sheetmetal and interior were jointly designed in Michigan and China, so if anyone was looking for proof that GM is actually leveraging its corporate resources instead of just paying them lip service, here you go.

The Invicta features many of the same active lighting bits that grace the Opel Insignia, but the lighting is expressed a little differently, probably more akin to last year’s Riviera concept, which was also designed by GM’s Chinese design center expressly for the Chinese market. The side profile is creased by a “sweepspear” which recalls Buick’s bodyside treatment from the 1950’s. One of the more welcome design cues is the chrome surrounds for the headlamp and tail-lamp assemblies, very similar to the tail-lamp treatment on the Buick Enclave. The interior is French-stitched in places where interiors didn’t used to have places.

Ed Welburn, GM’s VP of Global Design, probably states it more plainly than I could: “Buick’s global appeal created an opportunity for GM Design Centers to elevate our collaboration to new levels. Using our virtual reality centers in Warren and Shanghai, designers fused the best ideas from both cultures during the development of the Invicta.”

The Invicta, whose name is latin for “invincible,” can be seen walking on water (literally, the show stand is a pool of shallow water) at Auto Show China this week.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Given that Holden in Australia is now sourcing its mid size cars like this one from Korea (ie Daewoo) rather than Europe (we haven’t had the Vectra on offer since 2006) AND that Holden’s Korean cheapie is selling better than Ford’s Euro Mondeo then I can’t see how the Oz market will find an Insignia variant in the showroom any time soon.

    GoAuto feels the same too http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf/story2/D140EECCF3473278CA2574310083497E

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