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Competes With: Dodge Magnum, Subaru Outback, Volkswagen Passat Wagon
2008 Paris Auto Show: 2010 Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer
Should we care about Vauxhall? Yes. It's part of GM's European Opel family and thus an engineering and styling dynamo, contributing lots of both to GM's resurgence. The sleek Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer wagon could end up in America in 2011 with a Saturn badge, but Europeans will see it first in 2009 with both front- and all-wheel drive. Power comes from a pair of new engines -- a turbodiesel (which gets almost 60 mpg on the highway!) and a turbocharged gasoline unit -- and a super-green ecoFLEX variant will follow hot on their heels. Full of technological features, such as a front camera system that can read road signs and alert drivers, the Sports Tourer's specs give it plenty of appeal beyond its good looks.
Why it Matters
With the current distrust of gasoline prices being enough to turn people away from trucks, SUVs are losing much of their popularity as well. May that means it's time for a wagon renaissance. And if the new generation of wagons looks anything like the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, there may be a whole new generation of renaissance men and women in America ready to meet it as the 2010 or 2011 Saturn AURA Wagon.
What it Looks Like
As the Saturn ASTRA so bravely shows, European styling can look good on U.S. roads. The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer is a handsome Euro-wagon, attractive from every angle. And at the unveiling in Paris, every tongue in the exhibition hall was wagging with praise for the wagon's looks.
What's Under the Skin
European cars always get a raft of engine choices that never seem to make it to the states. In Paris, Vauxhall premiered two new engines that will be included in the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer -- a 180-horsepower gasoline-powered 4-cylinder, and a cleaner-burning 2.0-liter biturbo diesel 4-cylinder making 190 horsepower. That brings the total number of engines offered in the European Vauxhall Insignia line to nine.
What We Think
A few years before you were born, wagons were all the rage for families in the United States, and General Motors was the king of the station wagon hill. Now GM is coming to market with the tres-stylish 2010 Cadillac CTS Sportwagon. And if the CTS Sportwagon is a hit, we see no reason that the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer can't come over to play as the Saturn Aura Wagon -- it's got sporty, European style to spare.
By Richard Homan and Greg Brown
Photo credit: General Motors
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