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by Jez Spinks

The car that is favourite to replace the Holden Commodore in 2017 will be a visually stunning vehicle, says one of its key designers.

Opel’s next-generation Insignia medium car is due in 2016, almost perfectly timed to step in for the current model that will stop being produced when Holden shuts its manufacturing plants in 2017.

Opel design director Malcolm Ward says that while every designer would talk up their future products, he’s adamant the new Insignia will be something very special.

“I can assure you it’s one of the most beautiful cars you will have seen in years. It’s absolutely gorgeous,” said Ward, who was the chief exterior designer on the current Insignia that was sold for only a year in Australia before Opel prematurely exited the market.

The 2016 Opel Insignia has been heavily influenced by the striking Opel Monza concept shown at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show. Look to the design language, though, rather than the Monza’s huge, gullwing-style lift-up doors.

Opel-Monza-Concept-doors up

Ward said the new Insignia will change little from its current size – about 4.8m long – meaning Australians would have to get accustomed to a smaller ‘Commodore’ than they are currently used to if this is indeed the replacement.

“It will be similar [in size to the current Insignia],” said Ward (pictured below). “There is a certain point where you become too big for the segment they’re in.

“To meet the CO2 requirements… you know it’s not such a big deal in Australia and New Zealand as it is in Europe, but we’re staring at 95 grams for the portfolio and they’re seriously talking about it going down to 75 grams – and you can’t do that just through the powertrain. Cars have got to get smaller, they’ve got to get lower, a lot lighter.”

Malcolm Ward 2

“Lots of work being done on packaging and space efficiency, optimising sections everywhere.”

The lead designer on the 2016 Insignia is actually an Australian – Neils Loeb.

Opel and Holden have been exchanging design ideas more fervently since the Australian brand announced it would import a number of the German brand’s models in 2015, and Holden’s design team is understood to have been involved on a consultative basis with the new Insignia.

The two brands also made a joint announcement at the 2014 Paris motor show that more than one in three future Holdens would be sourced from Opel in Europe.

The Commodore name isn’t guaranteed to be retained for the car that replaces it, though Holden is insisting it has the final call on the nameplate.