The long tour or the short tour? “All or nothing.”
12:57 p.m.: The sky is cloudy, and it’s drizzling on the hot dog stand. Standing next to it are two men wearing black T-shirts under their jackets with “#WERKannderkann” embroidered across their chests. A third man is running towards them: “Sorry, I just came from the early shift. Where is it?” “Renzel, MPK,” “Nikolaus, Final Assembly,” “Levite, Body Shop” – eight words. That is all that is needed for the introductions. And where is it? It’s around the corner. Because at noon this Wednesday, the hot dog stand on the grounds of the Rüsselsheim plant serves as the meeting site for a special Opel Post tour. Three colleagues, who have been manufacturing the new Insignia Grand Sport in series production since this morning, are taking part in the media launch – including a test drive. Which route, long or short? “All or nothing.”
And what is the best way to get ready for the tour? Exactly how the journalist groups from all over Europe have been doing it every day up until March 31. In K48 with short presentations given by high-profile Opel experts about the sporty design, the reduction in weight of up to 200kg, the “Make Your Insignia The Way You Want It” Exclusive program, about the insane driving dynamics thanks to torque vectoring, or to the 400m range of the LED matrix light. And last but not least with an Opel burger.
“Otherwise, no one would believe me.”
A look in the production hall? Forget it! Everyone gathers together. The test drive can start. Well, not quite. The welcome light is turned on again. The Insignia in the Exclusive color, dynamic red, is photographed from every angle. “Otherwise, no one would believe me.” The group is studying a chart with the available motorization variants. “It doesn’t matter, as long as it has a manual transmission.”
It Impressed the Colleagues
“That is just my thing. If you need a test driver on the Nürburgring – I would be willing to volunteer.”
– Oliver Renzel –
on Torque Vectoring
“Aren’t those colors great? Only I can’t tell my wife. Otherwise she’ll come to me with her nail polish.”
– Andreas Levite –
on Opel Exclusive
“I like that. Can I see the welcome light again? Front and back… and one more time?”
– Jakob Nikolaus –
on the LED Matrix Light
2:20 p.m.: The vehicle that is selected is the Grand Sport with a two-liter diesel engine and manual transmission. No walks around the vehicle, no in-depth studies. Get in, close the door, press the ignition button – everyone is fired up and just wants to DRIVE! Jakob Nikolaus is first up. “Man, these seats are nice. Really comfortable.” He merges on the autobahn and stays in the right lane. The colleagues chat. It is simply amazing how much cutting-edge technology is in cars these days. Born in Siberia, Jakob Niklaus began working in the factory in 1990 installing door seals in the Calibra. Today, he is the group spokesperson in the MB 6 division, an early station in the final assembly.
“You do feel a little proud.”
– Jakob Nikolaus –
After the sound absorption mats and cables, Nikolaus installs the A pillar paneling, the roof liner in the cabin, and the air conditioning lines in the engine compartment together with his five colleagues. Always in sync. They switch about every hour. That even holds true for the Opel Post tour. They take a pit stop at the old mill in Hofen. “You do feel a little proud when you see what a great car we created,” he says pensively as he runs his hand over the paneling on the A-pillar.
It’s 3:30 p.m. and we are on kilometer 102. A question from the back seat: “Where are we actually?” Levite: “Somewhere near Runkel.” After a little fumbling around on the smartphone, the voice in the back informs us: “My cell phone says we’re in Croatia.” The driver responds: “We’re going fast, but even the Insignia can’t go that fast.” Laughter erupts. The three colleagues didn’t know each other before, but have quickly warmed up to each other. That is what Andreas Levite appreciates so much about Opel. “I came here in 1990. I didn’t intend to stay long. It’s been 27 years now. Opel – it’s like a big family.
As the quality assurance group manager in the Body Shop, he assists in the construction of the body shell. “The sedan is 175kg lighter; the station wagon is 200kg lighter. We play a significant role in that in the Body Shop. Among other things, we use a lot of high-strength steel.”
“Opel – it’s like a big family.”
– Andreas Levite –
Describing himself, the 47-year-old says: “I’m a fanatic when it comes to lights. What the colleagues were able to do with the matrix lights – simply amazing!” It’s also clear that for the family man, there’s no such thing as too many features, including the heated seats in the back – brilliant! Levite: “That’s what sets Opel apart: Premium features that you’ll otherwise only get with premium manufacturers. And at a fair price.”
4:10 p.m.: A rolling country road. The head-up display on the windshield goes back and forth between “95km/h” and “91km/h” – and is constantly showing a stylized green car. Levite: “Does anybody know what the car is doing there?” Everyone shrugs their shoulders. The drivers switch turns at Hessenpark: Buzzzz. Oliver Renzel lowers the seat. Buzzzz. A lot. Even before he turned back on the country road from the gravel parking lot, the projection on the windshield turns orange. “Well colleagues, I figured it out,” he says with a smile. “The car shows us whether you are driving economically.” The colleagues hold on to the handles. The display tends to remain orange over the next 75km, while the colleagues’ knuckles are white around the handles. The bushes on the left and right transform into a continuous strip of green.
“Colleagues, we built it well!”
– Oliver Renzel –
Oliver Renzel not only knows what the green car means, he also knows the part number of the head-up display. “It’s 271 for Opel and 272 for Vauxhall.” Whether Kanban or large parts – in the warehouse in K130, he takes delivery of the parts to be put together, which are delivered nonstop by truck and distributes them to the warehouse shelves. “What can the sound system do? Mind if I give it a try?” Of course. After the basses and low frequencies have been adjusted a little, it’s clear that the sound system can do quite a bit.
Pedestrians are pointing and heads are turning when the Insignia drives through Rüsselsheim – is it the car or the booming bass tones? Probably both. K48: The hot dog stand is closed. The tour is over. “Gentlemen, it was an honor to drive with you. And I would say: We did a pretty good job, don’t you think?” “You can say that again!”