Tron D. Foster
Phone: (337) 692-9608
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Tron D. Foster
Phone: (337) 692-9608
Drive down the Autobahn and there's any number of vehicles likely to pass you, and most of them are produced locally. But if you're wondering how that Opel left you in its dust, look closely (and quickly) enough and you might make out the letters OPC on the back.
They stand for Opel Performance Center (the German counterpart to Vauxhall's VXR line) and they adorn performance versions of the Corsa, Astra and Insignia. The latter is undergoing a bit of a refresh and is expected to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in a couple of weeks, but you don't have to wait that long as our intrepid spy photographers have caught it in the flesh outside an Opel facility in Germany.
Spied here completely undisguised in Sports Tourer (read: wagon) form, the Insignia has had a few nips and tucks performed, but we'll be more intrigued to see what it's got under the hood. The current model packs a 2.8-liter twin-turbo V6 driving 325 horsepower to all four wheels, but rumors suggest that the OPC (yeah you know me!) could have as much as 400 hp up its sleeve. That would make this one heck of a sleeper - especially in wagon form - and only make us pine for a more potent version of its twin Buick Regal to roam our highways, too.
The Future Buick Verano Convertible?
I wasn't wearing a pedometer while in Germany covering the Frankfurt Motor Show this year, but it's safe to say I walked more than a few miles between press conferences, shooting cars and trekking back to the media center on the first day alone. For this reason, it didn't take much convincing from General Motors for me to duck out of the Messe a day early and drive some of its latest Opel models. No, this didn't include the all-new Country Tourer, but I was able to drive the Opel Mokka (our Buick Encore), the Opel Adam and the Opel Cascada.
I focused most of my driving time behind the wheel of the Cascada, which went on sale in Europe earlier this year, since rumors are swirling that a Buick version of this convertible "could happen soon." Buick hasn't had a convertible since the Reatta, and GM has been lacking a non-performance, budget-minded convertible since the Pontiac brand - and its G6 - was dropped, so adding the Cascada to Buick showrooms could further help the reemerging brand compete in the near-luxury segment. Although the weather was too chilly (and occasionally rainy) to enjoy the Cascada with its top down for very long, I was able to clock a fair bit of drive time behind the wheel on roads ranging from the autobahn to tight roads in small, quaint villages.
For the first time since 1998, J.D. Power and Associates says its data shows that the average number of problems per 100 cars has increased. The finding is the result of the firm's much-touted annual Vehicle Dependability Study, which charts incidents of problems in new vehicle purchases over three years from 41,000 respondents.
Looking at first-owner cars from the 2011 model year, the study found an average of 133 problems per 100 cars (PP100, for short), up 6 percent from 126 PP100 in last year's study, which covered 2010 model-year vehicles. Disturbingly, the bulk of the increase is being attributed to engine and transmission problems, with a 6 PP100 boost.
Interestingly, JDP notes that "the decline in quality is particularly acute for vehicles with four-cylinder engines, where problem levels increase by nearly 10 PP100." Its findings also noticed that large diesel engines also tended to be more problematic than most five- and six-cylinder engines.