The 2013 Opel Insignia OPC is the quintessential sleeper — minus those blinging 20in aluminium wheels. You wouldn’t bat an eyelid if one drove past, and with 325bhp at its disposal, you probably wouldn’t even get to see it charging towards the horizon. This is a quick car that can hit 0-100kph in 6.3 seconds, but it’d be even faster if it wasn’t for the dreaded turbo lag.
This was a common ailment on blown engines back in the day, but the technology has improved over the years. However, someone must have forgotten to give Opel the memo, as this feels docile even lethargic at low revs. But once it’s taken a deep breath, it really gets going; when the rev needle is at 5,250rpm, it’ll be delivering 435Nm of torque — enough to glue you to the Recaros. It’s at higher revs that the Insignia OPC comes into its own; its 2.8-litre V6 turbo is Opel’s most powerful production engine. And it’s efficient too, sipping a claimed 11 litres-per-100km.
It’s been mated to a slick-shifting six-speed automatic with an adaptive all-wheel drive that sends the torque back and forth if it detects the rubbers are losing traction. Compared to the regular Insignia saloon, the OPC gets a beefed-up chassis and suspension; the HiPerStrut front and Mulitlink rear set-up soaks up the road imperfections and it boasts Opel’s FlexRide electronic system, which gives you a range of driving experiences to choose from.
There are three settings; Normal, Sport and OPC. The latter is the one you want to keep it in if you like your saloon to mimic a racecar. In this mode the throttle response sharpens up, the hydraulic rack-and-pinion flat-bottom power steering feels more direct and the body hunkers down, eliminating almost all body-roll to provide a real adrenaline rush. I also like the visual cues telling you the button has been pressed such as the instrument dials turning from white to red. But you’ll more than likely drive it in Sport — the happy medium between the malleable Normal and mad OPC modes. Here the transmission swaps the cogs pretty eagerly, but you’ll be spared a beating. If you want a kick in the gut every time the gears change, you need the wildest setting.
It feels nimble and changes direction eagerly for what is a large car, measuring 4,830mm long, 2,084mm wide and 1,498mm high. It weighs a hefty 1,809kg — not that you’d be able to tell even in the corners. The four wheels wrapped in huge 255/35 rubbers ensure grip is aplenty, while the steering offers good feedback. Stopping power comes courtesy of large Brembos in all four corners.
You just know this is going to be fun to drive from the moment you get in. The attractive cabin is finished in matte charcoal with piano black trim, while the OPC logos feature prominently throughout, and why not? Opel Performance Centre has every reason to be proud of this car, which also gets paddle shifters, a 7.0in colour information display with sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity and two huge electrically adjustable Recaro seats for the driver and passenger. They obstruct the view for passengers in the back, but other than that, there is very little else to criticise about the high-end interior.
It’s practical, easy to park, doesn’t get hot under the collar in traffic and has a decently-sized 500-litre boot, which grows to 1,015 litres with the seats folded. What’s more, it has six airbags, active headrests and a pedal-release system.
It has some presence about it; I like the sizeable Opel badge on the chrome-trimmed grille, the gaping air dams and the headlights, which feature Adaptive Forward Lighting and can illuminate the sides of the road, making driving at night that much easier. Around the back, the dual satin chrome-tipped trapezoidal exhausts and the integrated spoiler are both nice touches.
Three innocuous-looking letters are all it has taken to transform the handsome Insignia from a good car to an absolute blast. A turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive will do that. And to think Opel disappeared from the face of the earth, well, from the UAE at least, several years ago before making a strong comeback this year. It’s fair to say Opel is wide awake once again in our region, and it’s all thanks to this superb sleeper.