The best Opel no one has ever bought: is it worth buying an Opel Insignia

Strange as it may seem, the Insignia, despite all its technical frills and advantages, did not sell well. While competitors like the Passat, Mondeo, Mazda 6, and Superb were selling 5,000 to 15,000 copies, Opel did not sell even 15,000 cars in Russia before the 2013 restyling. It’s not the price: yes, the OPC version was sold for 1.6 million rubles, and the Country Tourer, which appeared after the restyling, was sold for 1.3 million, but price lists for the standard versions started at about 750-800 thousand rubles. Part of the reason for low demand was attributed to the lack of automatic transmissions in inexpensive versions with base engines – automatic at first was only available with powerful turbocharged engines. After the restyling, this mistake was corrected, but it was too late: the update was in 2013, and in early 2015 Opel has already announced its withdrawal from our market. In this case, many owners of Insignia, especially all-wheel drive, still regret this loss, considering that it was one of the best models on the market, equivalent replacement of which is simply not available. What will the search for such a “better car” turn out to be in used form?

Considering that the Insignia came to us in 2010, and left in 2015, the cars are not yet called very old, and serious body problems are almost uncommon. Mostly with defects are successfully dealt with early on, and galvanizing gives a chance to have time to do it even not the most cautious owners. But there is a possibility to encounter defects. Fenders, for example, are very willingly rusted and peeled in sandblasted area behind the front wheels, and there is a hole for fender support, so it is better not to start this area to prevent its rotting. And without front mudguards, not only the sill, but also the lower edge of the front fender suffers. The edges of arches are almost always chipped and start to rust rather quickly, so it is usual to have arches repainted because of them, and even whole fenders. The main thing is that the color should be qualitative. Fenders, by the way, are repainted also because of chips on the joints with bumpers, which are also not rare. Also it is worth to check the car for corrosion from below: subframe anchorage points, subframes and underbody shall not be damaged by rust and exploitation, especially at all-wheel drive cars.

The front part of the car traditionally collects chips and scuffs. The hood here is aluminum, which doesn’t rule out the possibility of corrosion. And by the way, it is possible to identify the car after frontal accident by a non-original steel hood. From examining the windshield frame, where there might be chips, you can move on to the roof, where the Insignia has an unexpected congenital disease. The gutters here have no plastic moldings, and rust can be found in them, ranging from isolated pockets to a reddish streak along the length of the roof. At the rear of sedans and hatchbacks, a wide chrome strip on the trunk lid and the area around it are at risk, and on station wagons, where the license plate area is placed on the trunk door, another area around it.

Opel Insignia Country Tourer 2008–16

Considering the mass of the model, it is not difficult to find body parts, but this does not mean that the restoration of the car after an accident will be frankly cheap. For example, the headlights cost from 10-15 thousand for which you can buy a non-original halogen optics, to 40-60 thousand for the original adaptive xenon AFL+, for which no replacement can be found. You can buy a front bumper for 10 thousand, but grills, moldings and overlays can cost another 20-30 thousand. A front fender is available for 2.5 thousand, but the hood for 10 thousand will be steel – aluminum will cost 25-30 thousand. And while choosing a windshield pay attention to details like a set of sensors: non-original glass costs from 5-7 thousand versus 30-50 for the original, but it is important to choose the right one.

Suspension in Insignia is presented by Maferson in front and multilever in back, and the design of rear suspension depends on the type of drive. There are not many complications with the suspension, although the Germans in pursuit of the best have introduced something expensive and modern: the adaptive FlexRide suspension. If you want a car with it, carefully inspect shock absorbers and check the work of suspension control electronics on the run. The price for a mistake here is rather high: 25-35 thousand for original shock absorber without alternatives, while the “usual” original will cost twice as cheap, and a quality non-original can be bought for 5 thousand. However, adaptive suspension was an option, and there is always a possibility to refuse it during ownership. As for the rest, maintenance and repair of running gear is not too expensive. For example, front ball bearing supports are standard changed together with a lever, but a lever can be bought for 3-5 thousand. Rear levers cost 3 to 5 thousand, although prices for all-wheel drive cars can be much less humane. Part of the help here is that silentblocks are available. By the way, when selecting parts, especially for the rear suspension, you should be careful: structurally the running gear has not changed since the restyling, but the parts have been changed. Hub bearings start from 3 thousand, and consumables like stabilizer bars are traditionally copied.

Opel Insignia 2008–16

The brake system in the Insignia is quite usual, and there are no expensive solutions. The exception can be called only the brakes of the OPC version: here only the front perforated brake disks with diameter of 355 mm will cost more than 20 thousand per piece even in non-original version from Brembo or Magneti Marelli. Otherwise, everything is quite usual, though the brakes, despite of the mechanism with a floating bracket in all civilian variants, still differ depending on the engine: it can be discs 296, 321, or 337 mm. Behind, ventilated disks are used on powerful turbocharged cars instead of solid ones. But the prices for all consumables remain acceptable in any case: 2-5 thousand rubles for a disk and a thousand and a half for a set of pads.

Opel Insignia OPC Sport Tourer 2008–16

The power steering even on the restyled Insignia in Russia remains hydraulic – this is due to the absence of active assistants to the driver. In service and repair, however, it promises only pluses: instead of expensive rack and electric motor, which are available in versions with electric booster, here you can buy a restored rack for 20-30 thousand or repair your own for the same money. The pump costs 15 thousand for original version and 5 thousand for replacement. So it is worth to check up the level and cleanliness of oil in the system, but the revealed problems are the reason to bargain, but not to refuse from purchase.

One of the Insignia’s highlights was all-wheel drive, and now it too can be one of the important buying factors. Especially since here, unlike other models like the Mokka, it’s not the usual electromagnetic clutch, but the fourth-generation Haldex. The system works quickly and is quite reliable – of course, on condition of regular oil changes at least once in 50-60 thousand kilometers. It is necessary to check it and optionally electronically controlled blocking of rear differential at purchase. Taking into account such kit, one should not be surprised that many owners were delighted with their cars. True, now we will have to find out if everyone was as delighted with their service.

Opel Insignia Country Tourer 2008–16

As we remember, the basic transmission option was a manual transmission, which many did not want, and the secondary market clearly reflects this dislike: cars with manual transmission on sale only about 30%. Gasoline versions were equipped with a six-speed gearbox with the index F40, which can be considered a good option. Of course, to listen to it on an elevator is worthwhile, having checked condition of glands and cleanliness of oil, but as a whole it has no problems with bearings, as, for example, in M32. But the economy of owning a car with mechanics is not so great, as it would be desirable. The dual-mass flywheel here costs 30 thousand, which is comparatively cheap, but a set of clutch will cost another 20 thousand, so one-time investment of 50 thousand without taking into account work can seem great to someone. The above-mentioned gearbox M32 works with diesel engines, more problematic and exacting to maintenance, but here the combination “diesel and mechanics” almost never occurs, so once again you will not have to remember its inborn peculiarities.

Opel Insignia 2008–16

The desired alternative to the manual was an automatic: it is either AF40-6, aka TF-80SC from Aisin, or 6T45 jointly developed by GM and Ford. The first can be considered the more preferable option. Even though it belongs to the modern automatic transmission with complex control, aggressive work of torque converter lockup, high operating temperatures and high sensitivity to oil purity, but good maintenance and moderate driving can prolong its life up to 200-250 thousand kilometers. The second is potentially more capricious – we wrote about its features in detail, for example, in the review of used Opel Astra J. Here to the lack of cooling, high temperature and quick oil pollution are added mechanical defects, problems with solenoids and so on. In general, you should not save on diagnostics when buying a car with any of the automatic transmissions, but in the case of the second one it is better to start saving up for repairs beforehand.

Opel Insignia 2008–16

The Insignia has received a whole range of engines, and with the restyling has undergone changes and the engine range. At first there were two atmospheric variants: A16XER and A18XER for 1,6 and 1,8 liters respectively. Both belong to “old guard” of Opel engines, simple and reliable, and their only disadvantage could be considered unremarkable dynamics: 140 and especially 115 atm-power and 155-175 Nm was not enough for a car with weight in 1.5 tons. Also the automatic transmission was out of the question. The supercharged 1.6-liter engine is A16LET, which is also an old school model, but it is equipped with a supercharger and lost a bit in reliability. On the Corsa OPC its more forced version A16LER suffers from problems with insufficient lubrication of liners of the fourth cylinder and its overheating, which usually ends with scuffing and overhauling. As for the rest the engine is not bad and inexpensive to maintain, but it is picky about quality of lubrication and fuel – experienced owners feed it only with 98-m gasoline. Even more powerful variant is 2-liter A20NHT with 220 hp: here there is already twinscroll turbine with two “volutes” and direct injection, so despite of the general good luck of the engine, costs for potential repair are higher. Well, the 2.8-liter V6 with indexes A28NET/A28NER crowned the engine range with two variants of forcing: 260 forces on usual cars and 325 in OPC version. These engines are also quite reliable, and the only weak points are timing life and high operating temperature. But now, after 7-10 years of service, a lot will depend on how they were serviced and exploited. If you’re willing to pay the 50k vehicle tax and have enough money for maintenance, the Insignia OPC can be considered a very good option for a fast car for the long term. The key is to find a well-maintained car.

Opel Insignia 2008–16

After the restyling the 1.6-liter atmospheric engine is out of the range, and it was replaced by the 1.4-liter supercharged A14NET. It belongs to the low-volume Family 0 family and has retained the cast-iron block and simple distributed injection, and the timing is chain, not belt. It can be considered as a good choice: it pulls better than the atmospheric, and in the content is more expensive only by the cost of the turbine. The main innovation is the 1.6-liter engine A16XHT with the marketing name SIDI, pointing to a direct injection. It also has not shown itself as a problem, and in the newest trends did not strike: for example, the lightening to the detriment of durability was not engaged here and even saved the cast-iron block. However, keep in mind that with the age the potential investments could be bigger: fuel injection system, injectors and supercharger will need money sooner or later. But the dynamics of a car with such motor is already quite decent, and the fuel consumption is moderate.

A few words can be said about diesels, which are not very popular here, occupying about 20% of the aftermarket. The bulk of the proposals is a variant A20DTH on 160 hp, and in general all the motors have a volume of 2 liters and belong to the family Multijet designed by Fiat-Chrysler. Diesels can also be considered a good choice for the Insignia: they have no inherent serious problems, and the main issue with the age is the condition and remaining life of the fuel system and supercharger.

Opel Insignia Country Tourer 2008–16

And now, having briefly understood the peculiarities of the choice of a used Insignia, you can try to form a portrait of a good copy. Given that there is no frankly unsuccessful engines here, it is quite possible to choose the car, based on your own wishes to the dynamics and the cost of maintenance. Those who are looking for a car for a long term can pay attention to the atmospheric engines, sacrificing dynamics. Those, who want to get decent dynamics, will prefer a car with a turbo engine for 1,6 or 2 liters. Having a million, it is possible to choose a well-groomed copy from the first owner – approximately such.

Those who are ready to add a little bit of money, can search that same all-wheel drive Country Tourer, so hotly loved by owners. Here also there are chances to find a good car – here is one of variants.

Well, those who are ready to pay well for a combination of outstanding dynamics and practicality will pay attention to the cars of the OPC lineup, especially since it included not only sedans, but also station wagons. And here also there are chances to find the car from the first owner – for example, such. Telling the truth, the price of an error here is much higher, so you need to check the car thoroughly before buying. A good help in this would be special services such as AutoTeka, where you can check the accident history, and registered mileage, and the presence of restrictions, and much more. And if in addition to that you’re a little lucky, you may also not be able to find an equivalent alternative to a fast and beautiful station wagon or sedan.

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