Opel says Holden’s involvement in the Insignia has been integral to the project since day one, with both design and engineering input from Australia shaping the next-generation Commodore from as far back as 2012.
The Insignia, which will become the new 2018 Holden Commodore, has been engineered and designed by Opel in Europe, but the team in Australia had been actively involved with the project from the get-go.
Speaking to Australian media at the Geneva motor show this week, the designer of the Opel Insignia, Mark Adams, admitted that certain styling elements of the car were a result of input from Holden.
“[Holden was involved] all the way from the beginning.” Adams said.
“I think when you’re doing a vehicle like this and trying to understand the market and the customer, having the input right at the beginning is really important. Because you have to look at what are the key attributes and work that balance accordingly.”
Asked why Holden was involved from such an early stage, considering in 2012 the future of the locally produced Commodore was not yet confirmed, Adams said it was all about keeping General Motors' options open.
“Because we were thinking about how this vehicle is going to evolve and be used around the world. That it was a possibility [for Australia], because we have to look at the options here, none of these things are known before you sign-off a program, you never know what things are going to be fixed and committed to the program," he said.
"We have a point in the program where you basically sign in blood and the money is committed, then that’s real, but before that you integrate and make sure to keep your options open and enable a great vehicle.”
According to Adams, Holden’s input into the car’s design involved the V6 requirement, which is unique just to Australia (in Opel form), that changed some front elements of the car. Likewise, the front wheels were pushed as far forward as possible to give it the sporty Commodore appearance.
“[We took the] sporty characteristic of the Commodore as much as we could convey, doing things like moving the front wheels, was all to shift the proportional balance of the car and create the aura, but other than slightly improving ride it didn’t improve cabin space.”
Adams also points out the other requirements of the Commodore buyer that Opel took on board.
“Clearly coming from [where the Commodore is now], there’s no way we could deliver a rear-wheel drive car, so that was out. But, having said that, a vehicle that had great interior packaging and great value, because at the end of the day we keep talking premium about this car but that’s about visuals and aura not the price point.
"So we needed to create a great value car, which the Commodore needed to be, a great value proposition, so we needed to find that balance all the way through.”
The head engineer for the Insignia, Andreas Zipser, also confirmed the red lion's involvement from the very beginning.
“From an engineering point of view, the Holden team was part of the development of the car from the very beginning. An integral part of the team,” Zipser said.
Holden sent engineers that helped validate the Insignia's dynamic capability and provided feedback that not only affected the Commodore model for Australia, but also the Insignia as a global car.
“For example, we had a lot of discussion [with Holden engineers] about the driving performance of the car, meaning we talked about how a car should feel like, is it fast enough? Good enough in terms of ride and handling?”
There will still be differences between the Opel insignia and the Holden Commodore, such as throttle mapping, powertrain response and suspension tuning.
The Opel Insignia will inherently be a front-wheel drive four-cylinder turbocharged sedan and wagon, however it will be available with a six-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive in Australia's top-spec Commodore variant, capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in the very low seven seconds realm.